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What to know about booking summer 2024 flights

After a volatile few years for airfare, prices this summer should be a bit more steady thanks to stabilizing supply and demand, experts say.

In fact, whether you’re planning to fly within the U.S. or internationally, you may have better luck finding a good deal than you did a year or two ago.

At the same time, those hoping for smaller crowds at airports and tourist hot spots may be waiting awhile, as all signs point to another busy summer travel season — both at U.S. airports and overseas.

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‘Roller coaster’ may be subsiding

Domestic airfare has been on something of a roller coaster ever since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than four years ago.

In 2020 and early 2021, fares dropped as airports emptied out, with travelers staying home. Then, prices surged as demand, fuel costs and overall inflation did the same in 2022. At the same time, demand from travelers exceeded the supply — of flights and seats — airlines could offer.

But if you found yourself booking a trip late last year to North America’s most popular leisure destinations like Orlando, Las Vegas or Cancun, Mexico, you may have found a bargain.

Landing at sunset at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

In fact, airlines added so many flights to those cities and some others — too many, in the eyes of some industry analysts — that competition drove fares down, prompting some carriers (like Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines) to pivot in recent months, shifting planes to other parts of the country in search of higher profits.

Will flights be cheaper this summer?

When it comes to the domestic airfare picture this summer, how does a little stability sound?

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“We expect summer 2024 to be similar to last year in terms of demand and pricing,” Hayley Berg, lead economist at booking app Hopper, told TPG.

Domestic airfare

Average domestic, round-trip airfare for June currently sits at roughly $303, Hopper noted in its most recent consumer travel index published last week. Average round-trip routes are trending lower for July ($282) and August ($267).

In keeping with recent months’ trends, you may be able to score an even cheaper deal if you’re headed to Walt Disney World or South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, or if you’re planning to take advantage of Marriott Bonvoy’s growing presence along the Las Vegas Strip.

“Current airfare as of this week to Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas and most other top domestic destinations remains lower than at this time last year, and in 2022,” Berg said.

A JetBlue aircraft taxis during peak Fourth of July 2023 travel at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Don’t expect summer 2024 fares to drop significantly, either

At the same time, ultra-cheap fares to Orlando or Las Vegas are of little help if you’re planning a trip to, say, Chicago or Seattle.

To that end, when taking the whole country into account, experts don’t expect overall fares to drop much more, either — at least not significantly. Again, the expectation is that fares will generally stay fairly consistent from last summer, although that can certainly vary from one destination to another.

Part of that stability comes from airline capacity.

Numerous airlines are growing their flight schedules, but at a much slower pace than they did in the first years after the height of the pandemic.

Collectively, airlines this June, July and August will offer a modest 6% more seats on domestic flights versus last summer, according to data from aviation analytics firm Cirium.

For perspective, domestic seats grew about 15% from 2021 to 2023.


“We shouldn’t expect a significant reduction in [fares] this summer as airlines both manage capacity and also have to work their way through issues of aircraft availability in some cases,” said John Grant, analyst at travel data firm OAG.

To his point, some airlines would love to add more flights but can’t. Aircraft delivery delays, engine problems and air traffic control shortages could limit more significant growth.

That could prevent the overall supply and demand equation from tilting too much further in customers’ favor. After all, consumers benefit when supply (flights and seats, in the case of air travel) solidly exceeds demand.

Also a factor in capping stronger growth: Hundreds of regional jets remain parked amid a still-festering pilot shortage that’s continued to limit flights at many of the nation’s smallest airports.

Broader trends encouraging for consumers

Still, bigger-picture signs do point in an encouraging direction for consumers with respect to airfare.

Adjusted for inflation, the cost of airfare is as low as it’s been in recent memory, Scott Keyes, founder and cheap flight expert at Going.com, pointed out in a post last week on the social platform X.

“By historical standards, we are living in the golden age of cheap flights,” Keyes wrote, citing March Federal Reserve data, noting that inflation-adjusted airfare is around 33% cheaper than it was a decade ago.

How expensive will summer 2024 international flights be?

There’s also promising news for travelers hoping to plan an overseas trip for this summer.

Round-trip airfare to several of the most popular European destinations has dropped since last year, according to data from FCM and Corporate Traveler, the flagship business travel divisions of Flight Centre Travel Group, shared exclusively with TPG.

The first three months of 2024 featured round-trip price drops of roughly 12% to the United Kingdom and France versus last year. Fares to Spain were also down 9%, while those to Italy were down nearly 4%. Not to mention, there was a 6.5% drop for transpacific flights to Japan.


As usual, prices over the summer will surely be more expensive than the lower-demand winter months. However, the overall trends this year point in a positive direction for consumers, Berg said — particularly after a couple of expensive summers for international flying.

“For travelers priced out of Europe in 2023, you may be in luck for a 2024 trip,” Berg said. “Prices to Europe are down [roughly] 10% compared to this time last year already.”

Collectively, seats to Europe on the “Big Three” U.S. carriers — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — this June, July and August will be up roughly 13% from 2019, Cirium data shows — though the vast majority of that growth is aboard two airlines: Delta and, most significantly, United.

Another busy summer expected

Wherever you’re flying, all signs point to another busy summer at U.S. airports.

So far in 2024, Transportation Security Administration checkpoints have seen passenger traffic up about 6% from this time last year, according to data analyzed by TPG.

On March 28, the Thursday leading into Easter weekend, the TSA recorded its 10th busiest day of all time. That follows all-time single-day passenger traffic records broken on two occasions last year.

Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection received an unprecedented crush of Global Entry applications in February, a top program official told TPG this month — far exceeding the record rate of applications witnessed in 2023.

Airlines have similarly noted the intense desire to travel witnessed since 2022 hasn’t waned in 2024.

“Everything we see from a bookings perspective is solid now,” American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said at an industry conference in March. “I do think that this is a trend that we will continue to see long into the future.”

“Consumer demand is robust and premium trends remain strong,” Delta president Glen Hauenstein echoed on the carrier’s first-quarter earnings call last week.

Finding the cheapest summer 2024 airfare


Here are some things to consider if you’re planning to book a flight this summer.

Search using Google Flights, but book directly with the airline

Unless you’re in hot pursuit of elite status on a particular airline, using Google Flights to search fares across a broad list of airlines will help you find the cheapest fares. And don’t limit yourself: search as many airlines, airports and dates as your schedule and travel preferences allow.

Then, your best bet is typically to go and book the trip directly with your airline of choice.

Tip: Don’t forget to check Southwest.

Southwest Airlines itineraries don’t populate in Google Flights, so you’ll need to check that carrier’s website separately.

Book early

Though our guide to finding the cheapest airfare gets more specific on how early you should book domestic and international flights, your best bet is, generally, to book as early as possible.

That’s especially true if you’re booking an international trip.

Tip: Cancel and rebook if you find a better deal.

Remember, the larger carriers’ main cabin fares typically allow you to cancel a flight and, at a minimum, retain the difference in airline credit. That means that if you book early and later realize the price dropped, you can often cancel your trip and rebook at the lower price point.

This is also true (even more so, in fact) for award flights booked using airline miles. Most loyalty programs will redeposit your miles and refund taxes and fees if you need to cancel, which can help you get a better redemption if the points price drops after you book.

Travel in shoulder season

If your schedule allows you to travel close to, but not in, the peak summer months, do it.

“For the best deals, plan to travel in May or September when prices will be lowest for bucket list trips,” Berg said.


Tip: Be ready to plan a fall trip, too.

Last year, we saw numerous airfare deals pop up toward the end of summer, and those prices lasted through the autumn months.

Enroll in Global Entry now (but wait for the kids)

Global Entry application fees are set to jump from $100 to $120 for a five-year membership in October.


So, if you’re an adult applicant, now is the time to apply before the price increases. Keep in mind that several travel credit cards have historically come with perks that include reimbursing the cardholder’s $100 application fee. Citi just announced two of its cards will fully reimburse the higher $120 fee as of October.

One bit of good news is that kids of Global Entry members or applicants can join for free as of Oct. 1. Because of this, it may be best to hold off on enrolling your kids who are younger than 18 until fall.

Tip: Use Mobile Passport Control for non-members.

If you’re not a frequent international traveler or are holding off on enrolling kids for Global Entry, CBP has a free time-saving option for non-Global Entry members you’ll want to consider.

The Mobile Passport Control app makes it possible to handle a good portion of your customs requirements on your smartphone before deplaning so you can head to a shorter line at passport control.


The app has been around for years but is used by far too few travelers, said Marc Calixte, CBP’s area port director for the area port of Washington, D.C.

“It’s not Global Entry,” he said, “but it’s pretty close. And it’s free.”

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