Generally, flights are so expensive because airlines have to pay high costs for operating flights.

Airlines pay for jet fuel, their flight crew, government taxes, and other expenses to operate flights, which costs are then passed onto customers by increasing ticket prices.

This event resulted in surging global oil prices and the closure of multiple routes over Russian airspace.

But it is expected that global air travel prices will decrease in the near future.

Why Flights Are So Expensive

Flights are expensive because of fuel and maintenance costs, employee wages, and government taxes, among other reasons.

1. Airport Costs 

Larger airports, especially international ones, charge airlines more, which increases ticket prices. 

2. Fuel Costs

The longer the flight, the more fuel it requires, which increases ticket prices. 

3. Demand

The higher the demand for a route, the more a ticket to that destination costs. 

4. Stopovers

Airports charge airlines extra for stopovers, which means airlines inevitably charge passengers more.

5. Government Taxes

Governments impose air passenger duty taxes on international flights, which significantly increases the cost of international air travel. 

Why Flights Are So Expensive Right Now

Flights are especially expensive right now for the following reasons:

1. Higher Demand Leads to Fewer Cheap Flights

Higher demand for a particular route or location leads to flight tickets for that location being more expensive.

Demand for flights rises at its highest during the summer and the month of December due to the holidays. 

So airlines charge people more because they know people will pay higher prices.

2. Demand Fell During the Pandemic

Air travel declined sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that the lockdowns and restrictions on international travel have mostly been lifted. Many people who would’ve flown during the pandemic are flying now. 

The result is an even higher demand for airplane tickets than usual. 

3. The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine caused global oil prices to surge.

The result has been increased operating costs for global airlines, who have inevitably passed much of the burden of increased fuel costs onto consumers, increasing ticket prices. 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine also resulted in closed routes, with most major western airlines completely avoiding Russian and Ukrainian airspace.

Airlines have been forced to either shut down certain flights or find longer and more expensive alternative routes. 

When Domestic Flight Prices Go Up, Do International Flight Prices Also Increase?

It’s not inevitable that international flight prices also increase once domestic flight prices increase.

For example, during the holiday season, most Americans travel domestically, so the result is that domestic flights have become more expensive in the U.S., but international flights do not necessarily increase in price.

When Will Flight Prices Drop?

Flight prices are expected to drop in the United States in the first quarter of 2023.

Flight prices have already declined in Europe. 

How to Book a Cheaper Flight

1. Have Flexible Travel Dates and Times

Ticket prices vary depending on the time of the week, month, or year you want to travel.

Being flexible with your dates will let you purchase cheaper tickets.

If possible, it’s best to try to fly during non-holiday times.

2. Be flexible With your Destinations 

As an example, instead of flying directly to Paris, which is more expensive, you could fly to nearby Amsterdam, which is cheaper, and drive from there to Paris instead.

As the more popular a destination is, the more it costs to fly there, being flexible with your destination can help reduce costs. 

3. Fly on Local or Budget Airlines

Local and budget airlines don’t offer the same comfort as large, established airlines, but you can often save a lot of money.

4. Lookout for Special Deals

Join the mailing list of major airlines to be informed of special deals.

Most airlines advertise their best deals only through their mailing lists, so it’s a good idea to join as many mailing lists as possible to maximize your chances of receiving a good deal. 

5. Use Points and Miles

Airlines reward passengers if they choose to fly with them multiple times.

You can reduce flight ticket costs by flying with the same airline again and again and redeeming points with them. Most airlines also offer other rewards that can reduce the cost of your journey, such as Uber or Lyft credit to reduce your cost to the airport. 

Being part of a good airline rewards program is one of the most effective ways to reduce your air travel expenses long term. 

6. Book in Advance

Flight tickets are cheapest when booked between 4 months and 3 weeks before the departure date, so last minute flights are not cheaper as some people seem to think.

7. Fly During a Weekday

Tuesday and Wednesday are likely to be the cheapest days of the week to fly, since most people prefer flying on the weekends.

In conclusion:

  • Flights are so expensive because it costs a lot for airlines to operate them.
  • Airlines have to pay airports, pay for fuel, maintenance, employees, and even government taxes for international flights.
  • And they shift much of the burden for these expenses to their customers by increasing ticket prices.
  • Ticket prices are also particularly high right now because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • This event resulted in skyrocketing global oil prices and the closing of many routes over Russian airspace.
  • Fortunately, airplane ticket prices are expected to decline in the first quarter of 2023. 

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).