Average U.S. Airfare Highest in Seven Years

Just like so many other things in the U.S., the price of travel is increasing.

The average U.S. round-trip air ticket price for March 2022 was $540, a 41% increase from $382 in March 2021 and an 11% increase from March 2019 when the average ticket was $487. That’s according to new data released from the Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) this week.

According to ARC, the $540 price tag is the highest average ticket price since June 2015, when the average ticket price was $548. And even with the increases, consumers are still more than willing to spend in order to travel.

The total ticket sales by accredited travel agencies for March 2022 was $7.8 billion, a 180% increase from March 2021 and the first time sales have eclipsed $7 billion since February 2020.

That number was also up 45% just from February. ARC, in its release, said that the growth was fueled by almost every single segment, including domestic trips (up 25% month-over-month) and international trips (up 26% month-over-month).

“March’s sales were fueled by strong growth in corporate travel, which improved from 60% of pre-pandemic levels in the first week of March to 70% of pre-pandemic levels in the last week,” said Steve Solomon, vice president of global customers and data products at ARC. 

“Despite rising airfares, the number of passenger trips continued to accelerate as international travel bookings neared pre-pandemic levels.” 

Still, according to ARC, there is room to go for the industry—March was still behind 2019 levels, a year that saw $9.3 billion in total sales in that same month. March 2022 did close the gap from pre-pandemic levels from around $5 billion in January, to about $2.84 billion in February, to under $1.5 billion in March. 

That progress has been made even as the U.S. remains one of the only major countries worldwide to retain a 24-hour testing mandate for inbound travel regardless of vaccination status.