AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the airline industry continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which grounded flights across the globe, experts are now looking ahead to what 2023 might bring.
Scott Keyes, founder of Going.com — formerly known as Scott’s Cheap Flights — says leisure travel demand rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in the spring and summer of 2022. At the same time, the number of flights was still down by about 15 to 20%.
High demand and low supply led to higher prices, Keyes said, but those prices have fallen in six of the past seven months.
“That’s one of the reasons why I’m actually pretty bullish on cheap flights going forward in 2023,” Keyes said. “I think a lot of that pent-up demand is starting to get released, and airlines are starting to, piece by piece, add more flights, more pilots to the schedule, which will take some of that pressure off of fares.”
So when is the best time to buy to make sure you’re getting the cheapest airfare? You may have heard tales about booking at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, or exactly 63 days before you want to travel.
“That doesn’t work to get cheap flights,” Keyes said. Instead, Keyes suggests booking during what he calls ‘Goldilocks windows,’ when cheap flights are most likely to pop up.
For example, if you’re traveling during the off-peak season — winter, spring and fall — you can likely find the cheapest flights about one to three months before traveling for domestic flights and two to eight months for international flights.
If you want to travel during peak times, like Christmas, New Year or the middle of summer, Keyes says to look for flights around three to seven months before for domestic flights and four to 10 months for international travel.
“Right now, out of Austin airport, there are flights available from Austin to Barcelona for $508 round trip,” Keyes said. “Those types of fares available for the spring and fall aren’t going to be available if you wait to book them until just a few weeks before departure because, at that point, prices are likely to be much higher.”
According to Going.com’s State of Travel report for 2023, travelers are far less concerned about COVID-19. Last year, 66% of people cited COVID concerns as their main barrier to travel. That number is now down to 15%.
The most common barrier now is a lack of money. Despite that, 60% of respondents to the website’s survey said they expect to travel more internationally this year, and 46% said they plan to take more domestic trips.
Here are some other interesting stats from this year’s State of Travel report:
- 55% of people prefer a window seat, with 44% prefer an aisle seat
- Believe it or not, 1% of respondents said they prefer a middle seat
- Early morning flights are most preferred, followed by mid-day flights
- 33% of people said they always recline their seat, while 8% said it’s never OK to recline
- 44% of people said it’s never OK to go barefoot on a plane, while 42% said only wearing socks is fine
- 1% said going barefoot is perfectly fine, even in the bathroom
- 37% of people said the COVID pandemic has made them more likely to buy travel insurance
- 35% are now more likely to pay extra for a nonstop flight