Are you thinking about planning a trip for next year? Air travel costs are going to increase, and you should prepare for that, according to money expert Clark Howard.
This article will tell you why Clark expects airfare to go up and how you can save money on flights. Pay close attention to Clark’s 2023 travel strategy, which we’ll break down step by step.
Why Is Airfare So High Right Now?
The airline industry continues to struggle with several factors that have impacted their bottom lines since flights resumed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aircraft Safety Issues
Clark says safety issues with the Boeing 737 and reliability issues with the 787 have played a role in airline troubles this year because those things have kept more planes grounded.
Aircraft Supply Issues
According to SimpleFlying.com, an aviation-focused website, Airbus, the world's most used aircraft, has back orders of more than 7,200 planes waiting to be delivered. For the year, it's trying to meet a goal of delivering 700 aircraft despite persistent supply chain and engine issues, the site says.
Airline Worker Shortage
"Airlines are way short of personnel, principally pilots and mechanics," Clark says. "A lot of airlines are having trouble finding enough people to work the bags, to work the ticket counter to work the gates. There's a significant labor shortage so airlines are flying much smaller schedules than they have historically."
Why Is Airfare Expected To Increase?
Clark notes that all these factors translate into major turbulence for the airlines now and into the foreseeable future.
“Unless the economy goes into a much more serious recession than I expect, you’re going to see that demand is going to outrun the supply of seats for all of ‘23,” Clark says.
"So what do you do? I can't defeat the higher prices, but I can help you some with them," Clark says.
How To Save on Airfare Amid Higher Prices
Buy One-Way Fares
"One of the things I've learned with domestic travel is that you want to buy all fares one-way," Clark says. "Do not do fare searches round-trip right now. Pretty much all my tickets are being bought as one-way tickets now."
“My middle child is doing a three-flight trip,” he cites as an example. “She’s flying one flight on Southwest, one flight on Alaska and one flight on Delta because it was cheaper doing that. She had to modify her dates, and then the fares were really reasonable.”
Search on Multi-Airline Websites
Looking for a good fare? Don’t go to a carrier’s website.
“Whatever source you like that you find is a good multi-airline search site, do that.”
Clark says the only airline website he checks is Southwest.com, which doesn’t show up on airfare comparison sites.
“When I’m looking for a flight somewhere I’m being extra flexible – as much as I can be – about not just the time of day that I fly but the day that I fly,” Clark says.
That’s where a website like Google Flights can be really helpful.
For example, let's say you're searching for airfares for a destination. To see price comparisons, click on "Date Grid." This will pull up a calendar view. You'll see prices based on the days of the week for each leg of the trip.
Southwest.com's Low Fare Calendar also shows you fares based on the day of the week.
Clark says the key is to keep modifying your travel dates until you find the cheapest fares.
Because travel demand is so great right now, Clark says, the airlines are able to charge what they want for flights.
To find cheap fares, you have to comparison shop and build flexibility into your online airfare searches.
Despite the high fares, “There’s still weakness in the schedule,” Clark says. ”It could be that one airline has softness [in prices] on a day when another airline doesn’t. That’s why I’m doing these searches one way. I’m able to see that if I mix and match, it can make a difference.”
Want more ways to save on a trip? Read Clark's #1 Rule To Travel Cheap