Flying from SFO, Oakland and San Jose is becoming more expensive

Patrick De Haan has a bird’s eye view of sky-high prices around the country. He is head of oil analysis at GasBuddy, a company that crowdsources gas price data. But lately, he feels the pain of emptying his purse for one of the latest trends of rising costs – air travel.

“My wife and I booked two trips to Rio last year,” De Haan said. “Now I spend 20% more on getting to Atlanta than we spent on going to Brazil.”

But that’s bad news beyond De Haan’s household budget. Many travelers accustomed to obtaining pandemic flight deals get an unpleasant surprise as the flow of cheap flights has changed.

According to Hopper, a flybook app, the price of domestic flights has risen by 40% since the beginning of the year with the average return flight of $ 330. The company expects prices to rise by 10% in May.

Several air travel experts say the worst is yet to come. After two years of COVID crushing our travel plans, consumer demand is now high despite rising prices, just as the price of jet fuel has risen due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And it’s a double plaster on the ticket prices.

“People see an opportunity where they can book summer travel when (COVID) cases seem down. So it really drives this desire to travel,” says Vivek Pandya, a lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, which compiles flight data.

The era of low-cost prices officially ended in February, when domestic air fares finally peaked on pre-pandemic costs, Pandya said.

Airlines are also experiencing problems keeping planes flying away from the tarmac due to pilot shortages and weather delays, which are contributing to cost increases. Earlier this month, Alaska Airlines and other airlines canceled more than 3,500 U.S. flights over a weekend, affecting tens of thousands of travelers. This week, Jet Blue said it is expected to reduce aircraft capacity by up to 10% through the summer, CNBC reported.

For California’s most popular route, San Francisco to Los Angeles, a weekend return flight is around $ 200 in May, almost double the average fare over the past two months, according to pricing data on Google Flights. But everyday travelers are lucky as they can still land a flight under $ 100. It’s cheaper than driving the same route, with a car getting 40 miles per gallon or less, by up to $ 10.

Kathleen Bangs, a former airline pilot and spokeswoman for FlightAware, said there is a small window to fly in May where travelers chasing deals could get cheaper airfare. “Especially the earlier part (of May), as it’s a post-spring break, but still not Memorial Day weekend,” Bangs said. “But the demand is huge right now for the summer season; even Europe is back despite the ongoing war in Ukraine. “

Travelers are photographed at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in San Jose, California, on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. Many travelers accustomed to obtaining pandemic flight deals get an unpleasant surprise as the waves of cheap flights have shifted. (Nhat V. Meyer / Bay Area News Group)

Michele Godwin, who lives in San Francisco, is going to Austin, Texas, later this month to see country musician George Strait. She has just booked the return match this week. “When I booked that flight yesterday, it was like ‘ahh’ – I felt like I was being fooled,” Godwin said. Finally, she booked a return trip at. 5 in the morning for $ 200 to avoid the other options, all of which were over $ 600.

“When I traveled before, I accepted that it was expensive, but now it is so expensive that I can not do it,” she added. “It will definitely keep me from going places this summer.”

At Mineta San Jose International Airport on Tuesday, travelers waiting for their luggage shared stories of sticker shock and regret as they saw prices sometimes double on days.

“I saw my plane go from $ 139 to $ 300,” said a 72-year-old who would only give his first name as Tom. He bought his single ticket from Boston three weeks ahead of time. “I thought I had a pretty cheap ticket to start with, but I waited a little too long.”

But not all travel booking needs to be an unbearable process of emptying your wallet. Some travelers who were looking for great deals or were lucky were pleasantly surprised by the price of their tickets.

Michael Petrelis, a longtime LGBTQ advocate in San Francisco, got a $ 300 business-class flight at United from Newark to San Francisco. “After sleeping for two hours, I watched a Polish favorite movie, ‘Ida,’ while enjoying a snack from the airline,” Petrelis said. “All my flights should be like this!”

PHOTO PHOTO – MILLBRAE, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 24: Flight observers at Bayfront Park in Burlingame, California, enjoy increased activity at San Francisco International Airport, Thursday, June 24, 2021. Many travelers accustomed to obtaining pandemic flight deals are waiting an unpleasant surprise as the tide of cheap flights has shifted. (Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group)

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