Summer 2022 Travel Guide

Driven by higher jet fuel prices, surging travel demand and lower overall seat capacity as we enter the busy summer months, consumers can expect record highs for summer airfare - but there are still deals to be found.

Hayley Berg - May. 3, 2022

Summary

  • Domestic airfare for summer 2022 is averaging $383 up +34% compared to the same time in 2019. International airfare is averaging $912, +2.5% compared to 2019. Price will continue to rise seasonally through June, peaking between $410 - $420 round trip. 

  • Rising airfares are driven by higher jet fuel prices (+95% vs 2019), surging travel demand, and lower overall seat capacity as we enter the busy summer months. Airlines are scheduled to fly ~2.4MM travelers per day this summer.

  • Demand for summer 2022 travel is primarily for domestic destinations, with 65% of bookings to destinations in the US, up 16% compared to 2019.  Topping the list for most booked domestic destinations are major cities offering sun and fun, like Las Vegas, Miami, and Los Angeles. International destinations seeing the most demand are primarily short-haul flights from the US, including Cancun, Mexico, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Mexico City, Mexico.

  • Hotel stays for summer 2022 will cost travelers an average of $154/ night, up +36% compared to this time in 2021. Top destinations include major cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York City. 

  • Average rental car rates for summer 2022 will cost travelers ~$60/day, up about 20% compared to January of this year.

  • How to get a deal: Be flexible! Save an average of $75 off domestic airfare by traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday this summer, compared to peak weekend prices. Consider regional destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean instead of long haul trips to Europe to cut your international airfare cost in half, or more! If you see a great deal but aren’t ready to book yet, freeze it! Hopper’s Price Freeze product allows you to lock in the price of a flight for up to 7 days, allowing you to take more time to finalize plans before you book without missing out on a great deal.


Summer 2022 Travel Outlook

Americans are ready to get back to traveling, with more than half of Americans planning to travel for leisure this summer. Most travelers are headed on vacation or to visit family and friends, and 24% will be traveling for the first time since the pandemic. With surging airfare and rising gas prices, more than half of Americans traveling for leisure this summer expect to pay $1,000 or more for their trip. Despite rising prices, great deals will be available for savvy travelers throughout this summer season. 

Airfare 

Americans who haven’t booked travel since summer 2019 are in for a shock this summer, with domestic airfare for summer travel averaging $383 round trip, up over 34% compared to this time in 2019. Rising jet fuel prices, surging demand, and lower overall capacity compared to 2019 are together driving the highest airfare for summer travel on record for at least the past 5+ years.

AverageDomestic

Round-trip good deal airfare for flights departing from the US from June 1st, 2022 through September 1st, 2022

Travelers heading to an international destination this summer won’t have as much sticker shock, with international airfare averaging just over $912 round trip, up only +2.5% compared to 2019 prices. Airfare to bucket-list destinations in Europe will cost travelers $868 on average, and remains in line with 2019 levels, while airfare to closer destinations in Mexico & Central America, and the Caribbean has risen 8% and 10% respectively.

Average
Round-trip good deal airfare for flights departing from the US from June 1st, 2022 through September 1st, 2022

Round-trip good deal airfare for flights departing from the US from June 1st, 2022 through September 1st, 2022

What is driving airfare?

Airfares continue to surge into summer 2022, driven by three key factors:

[1] Rising jet fuel prices

The average price of jet fuel according to the EIA is currently ~$3.91 per gallon, the highest prices seen since the summer/fall of 2008. Jet fuel prices have risen 74% since January of 2022, and over 95% compared to the same time in April of 2019. Jet fuel has historically accounted for anywhere from 15% - 30% of an airline’s operating expenses. A significant and sustained increase in jet fuel price like the market is experiencing today will drive increases in airfare paid by travelers.

Jet

Average weekly jet fuel price per gallon from the EIA since January of 2004. [2] Surging demand for travel & seasonal effects

Demand for summer travel has continued to grow significantly faster than in previous years, putting additional upward pressure on airfare.  Search demand for domestic travel this summer has grown 50% faster than in the first four months of 2019, with the greatest acceleration since the end of the Omicron wave of COVID-19 in February. We expect demand to continue to grow through mid-summer, before beginning to fall off seasonally toward the end of August and September. 

Search

Search demand for domestic destinations with departure dates between June and August, indexed to search demand in the first week of January in the same year.  [3] Lower seat capacity

Despite making significant gains in rebuilding seat capacity post-COVID, overall planned capacity for this summer remains between 75% - 95% of 2019 levels. As airlines work to balance surging demand with rising fuel costs, we expect gradual increases in capacity through the summer months. Airlines are scheduled to fly ~2.4MM travelers per day this summer, compared to an average of 2.9MM passengers per day over the summer months of 2019. With high demand for travel this summer but fewer seats flying, travelers can expect high prices to continue and for planes to book up earlier than in previous summers. 

3 Tips for Scoring a deal on Summer ‘22 Airfare: 

With rising airfare and surging demand for summer travel, many Americans are anxious to find great deals for their travel before time runs out. Here are Hopper’s top three tips for getting a great deal this summer: 

[1] Be Flexible: 

  • Save up to 18% or ~$75 per ticket off-peak prices by traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday this summer. For international trips, depart on a Thursday to save as much as 6%, or $60, per round trip ticket. 

  • For even more savings, book your vacation for late summer. Airfare in September and October typically drops compared to peak summer months, as demand falls off at the end of the summer when vacations end and students head back to school.

  • Check out Hopper’s list of destination swaps in the Go Here, not there report, that can save travelers over 70% on airfare, without compromising on amazing experiences!

[2] Book at the right time:  

  • Start monitoring prices now using a price monitoring tool like Hopper to ensure you’re notified in real-time if there’s an amazing deal, or if prices begin to rise. 

  • Hopper is hosting a Cinco de Mayo sale starting on 5/5. The 4-day event will feature new discounts each day, with savings ranging from $55 to $275. These deals are exclusively available on the Hopper app and destinations include Miami, Los Angeles, Los Cabos, Cancun, and Bali. 

  • Plan to book your summer travel by the first week of May to get the best deals. Though there may be some deals available after the first week of May, prices on average will rise by 6% - 12% on average before peaking in late June. 

[3] Lock in deals with Price Freeze: If you see a great deal but aren’t ready to book yet, freeze it! Hopper’s Price Freeze product allows you to lock in the price of a flight for up to 7 days, allowing you to take more time to finalize plans before you book without missing out on a great deal.

Where are travelers going?

Travelers are trading in the longer haul trips for domestic and short-haul international travel this summer. 65% of travelers are flying domestically this summer, +9% points or 16% compared to 2019.  Topping the list for most booked domestic destinations are major cities offering sun and fun, like Las Vegas, Miami and Los Angeles. 

share

Share of all bookings made for June - August by April of the same year. Summer is typically the time where bookings shift towards longer haul trips, as Americans plan for bucket list trips to major European cities. However, this summer demand has shifted towards shorter haul destinations within North and Central America. Demand for travel to Mexico and Central America has doubled compared to 2019, along with significant growth in demand to Canada and islands in the Antilles (Caribbean). Cities topping the ranking of most-booked summer 2022 destinations include Cancun, Mexico, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Mexico City, Mexico.

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Share of all international bookings made for June - August by April of the same year. 

Most Booked Destinations

Using Hopper’s own bookings data, we track the most booked destinations for summer airfare. 

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Trending Destinations

We use our search traffic data to track the rate of increase in searches for a destination in recent weeks. We rank cities by their rate of increase in search volume relative to regular seasonality, and relative to other destinations. This does not necessarily represent what’s most popular with travelers, but rather what’s becoming more popular the quickest.

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Traveler Confidence 

After two years of COVID-19 travel uncertainty, Americans are confident and ready to book their leisure travel for this summer. In a survey conducted by Hopper, 65% of Americans that plan to travel this summer claimed COVID-19 was no longer a concern as they planned their summer travel. This is also clear in how customers’ booking habits have changed as they look to summer 2022 travel. 

Throughout the pandemic and recovery period travelers had been booking flights at the very last minute. This made sense in an environment where there was uncertainty about how travel regulations and the pandemic itself could interrupt travel plans. Today, Americans are booking their summer 2022 travel at the same advance as they did in 2019. 

Domestic | 39 Days (5-6 weeks)

Travelers are booking domestic flights 39 days in advance on average, in line with the average booking advance of 40 days for summer travel dates at this time in April 2019. 

International | 57 Days (8 weeks)

Travelers are booking international flights 57 days in advance on average, in line with the average booking advance of 60 days for summer travel dates at this time in April 2019. 

During the peak of the Delta and Omicron variants last fall and winter, Hopper also saw a 50% increase in customers purchasing flexibility products alongside their bookings. These products included Cancel for Any Reason and Change for Any Reason plans which allow customers to change or cancel their flights for any reason up until the time of scheduled departure. Today, the purchase rate for these products has returned to normal levels, further signaling American’s readiness for and confidence in summer 2022 travel. 

Airline capacity to peak over holiday weekends

With summer travel right around the corner, airlines continue to rebuild capacity to capture the coming surge of demand for domestic and international travel. Domestically, airlines are currently scheduled to operate at between 75% - 95% of their 2019 summer capacity from May through August.  

Airports are scheduled to fly ~2.3MM travelers domestically per day in June, rising to ~2.37MM in July and peaking in August at ~2.4MM travelers per day.  Holiday weekends like 4th of July and Labor Day will see capacity recovering to above 2019 levels on key travel dates.  

domestic

Estimated seat capacity for May through October 2022, based on schedules filed as of April 20th, 2022.

International capacity will also recover slowly through the end of the summer, surpassing 90% of 2019 capacity by September. With some routes still closed due to COVID restrictions in Japan and China, we don’t expect >100% capacity recovery until restrictions are lifted.

international

In addition to raising airfare to offset the rising cost of fuel (+>80% vs 2019), airlines will often suspend or reduce service on more fuel/cost inefficient routes and reorganize schedules to fly more fuel/cost efficient aircrafts on more routes. If jet fuel prices remain elevated throughout the summer airlines will likely maintain lower overall seat capacity vs 2019 as they work to mitigate the rising cost of fuel through schedule optimization. 

Hotels

With high demand for travel this summer, Americans can expect to pay an average of $154 per night when booking their summer hotel stays, up 36% compared to this time in 2019. On average most travelers are booking short getaways, staying an average of 2 nights in their destination city. As usual, stays in major US cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York are the most popular this summer overall. 

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Ranking of the most booked hotel cities on Hopper for stays in June, July and August of 2022 and the median nightly rate. 

Trending destinations for weekend getaways this summer include big cities like Seattle, Nashville, and Boston, as well as beach and mountain destinations close to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Denver, Colorado. Travelers planning longer vacations are headed to the beach, with Cancun, Hawaii, South Carolina, and Florida topping the most trending list.

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Trending destinations for hotel stays in summer 2022, broken down by 1-3 night stays (weekend getaways)  vs 5+ night stays (week-long vacations). 

Tips for getting the best hotel deals 

  • Be Flexible: If you’re planning a long weekend getaway, check-in on a Saturday and leave on Monday or Tuesday to save as much as 14% off peak Friday night prices. Save 40% (~$52/night) on a 5 night stay if you stay Sunday to Friday, instead of over the weekend from Wednesday through Sunday. 

  • Big City? Book last minute: Booking your hotel last minute might just result in the most savings if you’re heading to a big city like New York, Boston, or Chicago. We see nightly hotel prices in big cities fall 13% on average in the final two weeks leading up to check-in dates. 

  • Vacation town? Book Early: Travelers headed to more leisure destinations like Sedona, Ft. Lauderdale or Miami should plan to book closer to 3 months in advance, as prices can rise by over $150 per night in the last 3 months before your check-in date. 

Rental Cars

Despite rising prices at the pump, demand for rental cars this summer continues to build into May and June. Average rental rates will cost travelers ~$60/day, up about 20% compared to January of this year. Most travelers are looking to rent cars for ~1 week, and picking up at major airports across the country. 

If you’re planning to book a rental car this summer, book early!  With demand for summer travel surging this year and continued supply constraints facing many rental car providers, Hopper recommends booking your car rental at the same time you book your flights to ensure good deals, and availability.

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Methodology

The data utilized for this study comes from Hopper's real-time "shadow traffic" containing the results of consumer airfare searches. Hopper collects, from several Global Distribution System partners, 25 to 30 billion airfare price quotes every day from searches happening all across the web. The prices reflected in this analysis are Hopper’s “good deal price” which represents what a typical leisure traveler should expect to pay, measured using a “tenth percentile.” Booking data comes from bookings made on the Hopper app. Survey results come from a survey of America's intending to travel this summer conducted by Hopper via Google Surveys, fielded in April 2022. Estimated seat capacity is sourced from OAG and represents current expected seat capacity for airlines scheduled to fly from May through October 2022, based on schedules filed as of April 2022. 

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