Why Are Flights So Expensive? 6 Reasons Why And Tips On Saving More

Have you been searching for plane tickets lately? Save more money on plane tickets by understanding the reasons why are flights so expensive. There are different factors that can affect airfares, from the time of your booking to where you are heading to. Seasoned travellers know how and where to look for decent flights ahead of time.

According to the Consumer Travel Index Q2 2023 published by Hopper, it is true that air travel is more expensive as compared to pre-pandemic prices. Airfares are expected to continue to rise in summer, which is one of the busiest times of the year for air travel. Long-haul international routes are expected to be the most expensive, as compared to domestic flights.

Are you looking to travel abroad or fly domestically? By understanding the main factors that influence airfares, you can plan ahead. With our tips, save more on flight tickets and spend more on your travel experiences.

Factors That Influence Airfares

Why Are Flights So Expensive? - CabinZero

Airfares vary greatly depending on your booking times, flying routes, final destinations and airlines. Photo by triocean on stock.adobe.com

Airfares are influenced by the laws of supply and demand. Think popular routes, busy seasons, urgent bookings and expensive flight tickets. Travel demand fluctuates depending on the season as there are more travellers flying during summer, Christmas and on holidays than shoulder time. 

If you plan to travel to a particular destination during a busy time, such as Japan during its cherry blossom season or Brazil during its famous Rio Carnival, expect to pay more for flights. Despite the growing demand for travel post-pandemic, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA)'s 2023 Annual Review, it is expected to not fully return to pre-pandemic levels at least until 2024.

Fuel Prices

Jet fuel accounts for nearly 30 per cent of airlines' operating costs; according to an economic report from IATA, ticket prices will be higher as jet fuel prices continue to rise. Fuel prices are driven by various reasons, such as capacity and supply chain.

For example, refining capacity post-pandemic is lower than pre-pandemic, and Russia's war on Ukraine is affecting jet fuel prices, as reported by McKinsey & Company. To stay competitive, airlines are working to grow more strategically and manage jet fuel prices' effects on their pricing strategy.

One of the most frequently used ways for airlines to manage their operating costs against fluctuating fuel prices is to buy current oil contracts. This method is to buy a large amount of fuel at current prices if airlines foresee that fuel prices are expected to rise in the near future.

Type Of Flights

Why Are Flights So Expensive? - CabinZero

Non-stop flights tend to be more expensive but faster and less stressful. Photo by Kiattisak on stock.adobe.com

When booking flights, you might have seen terms such as connecting, direct, and non-stop flights.

  • With connecting flights, expect to fly with one or different airlines, change aircraft and have multiple stops before arriving at your final destination.
  • Direct flights might have one or more stops before reaching your destination but there is no plane changing.
  • Non-stop flights are less stressful and more time-saving. 

Time and convenience are two major factors that influence how travellers choose their modes of transportation. Air travel tends to be more expensive than driving, but it can get you to your final destination faster.

Same for air travel, different types of flights take different flying and waiting time and require different steps. You can get to your destination faster with less hustle. Because of this, non-stop flights tend to be more expensive.

Low Supply

According to Hopper's Consumer Airfare Index 2023, airlines are putting in efforts to hire more pilots and improve staffing in both ground and air sectors to surpass pre-pandemic levels.

New aircraft are waiting to be delivered to catch up with the increased flying needs. All of this will take time for the air travel industry to have a strong supply and efficient growth. Aside from flight capacity, destinations with fewer flight routes or fewer flight carriers tend to have a less competitive price for travellers.

According to a 2022 report from OAG - a global travel data provider, Saudi Arabian Airlines accounted for over 50% of the total traffic on the exclusive route between Cairo International and Jeddah (CAI-JED) in 2022. This exclusivity enables airlines to charge more due to the lack of competition in the market.

Soaring Demands

Travel demand has increased significantly after the extended lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily the phenomenon of "revenge travel". In 2022, there was chaos in airports, with major delays and flight cancellations due to airlines' staff shortages and passengers' increased travel needs. 

Staff shortage is a result of layoffs and career changes during the pandemic. Moreover, the hiring process of new talents and the lack of experienced staff in the aviation industry post-pandemic are worsening the shortage problem. With high demand for travel and a low supply of seating capacity, flight ticket prices are higher than in pre-pandemic times.

Avoiding Russian Airspace

International airspace is undoubtedly affected by the war between Russia and Ukraine. Airlines have avoided flying across Russian airspace for safety reasons by rerouting around Russia and cancelling specific flight routes between Europe and Asia. As a result, flights can take up to three hours longer to make their way back. Both rerouting routes and cancelling flights result in higher ticket prices due to the extra fuel needed as well as the shortage of seats available.


According to the latest report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), jet prices skyrocketed to almost 150 per cent in 2022. With jet fuel prices increasing and instability in fuel prices worldwide due to various macroeconomic reasons, high operating costs pressure airlines to increase flight prices. The rise of inflation on a global scale contributes to a more long-term rise in prices for air travel as well.

There is no secret that everything in our lives is influenced by the inflation rate. From airline tickets, accommodation prices to groceries and rent, everything seems to be more expensive than before. There is no clear answer on whether inflation will go down or not, as there are many factors involved. For the time being, let's all try our best to find good travel deals and allocate our travel budget wisely.

Dynamic Pricing Strategies

Why Are Flights So Expensive? - CabinZero

The law of supply and demand. Photo by kwanchaift on stock.adobe.com

It is good for travellers to know that airlines usually use dynamic pricing strategies, in which airfares are adjusted in real-time based on various factors. Be sure to keep these variable factors that can affect airfares in mind when booking flights for your next vacation to capture better deals at better timings. 

These factors include supply versus demand, booking time, competition, conditions in the market and seasonality. Why do airfares fluctuate so often? This is because algorithms will continuously analyse these factors to set ticket prices that can both maximise airlines' revenue while staying competitive. 

Tips To Save More On Airfares

Why Are Flights So Expensive? - CabinZero

Be flexible and consider combining different modes of transportation to save more. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Given the current situation, it seems hard to travel the world without breaking the bank. But that’s not true at all! With the right strategies, you can still make that dream holiday a reality, all the while not dropping a couple of grands.

Budget Airlines Are Your Best Friends

If you are on a tight travel budget, opting for low-cost airlines is better than flying with full-service carriers. For example, if you travel somewhere in Europe, flying with the top low-cost carriers such as Jet2 or EasyJet will be more economical than flying with Lufthansa or Air France.

Compare For The Best Deals

Use a number of flight comparison tools to compare airfares on different days and between airlines. Don’t limit yourself to just one. Check multiple platforms to find the best deals yourself.

For example, flight search engines such as Google Flight and Skyscanner are a useful tool to find inexpensive plane tickets. Going (Formerly Scott's Cheap Flights) is a great way to stay up to date with the latest price when you are still researching.

CabinZero tips: Some carriers, such as Southwest, don’t even show up on search engines or Google Flights. Thus, you should sign-up for their newsletters via email for the latest pricing information.

Considering An Alternative Airport

Some airports have more deals than others, especially those with fierce competition and/or less busy. Similarly, driving to your final destination is a great way to save on airfares, especially if there is a significant difference in prices. Depending on where you are heading, consider incorporating flying, driving or taking a train into your journey.

Make Use Of Those Hard-Earned Credits

Using rewards and airlines' credits when booking flights are among the best air travel tips used by seasoned travellers. With frequent flyer miles and other special benefits offered by airlines, you can lower ticket prices and book more conveniently.


Why Are Flights So Expensive? - CabinZero

There are various airlines to fly with, from low-cost carriers to full-service airlines. Photo by Friends Stock on stock.adobe.com

1. When Will Flight Prices Drop?

As the demand for air travel tends to be lower outside of busy travel times such as summertime and holidays, flight prices are more likely to drop. If you plan to save more on airfares, choose to fly midweek flights to fly at a more unconventional departure time, such as midnight, as airfares tend to be cheaper.

2. Are Last-Minute Flights More Expensive?

Last-minute flights tend to be more expensive due to fewer seats available. Travellers with more urgent needs to fly last minute can be more willing to pay higher airfares. Thus, airlines can increase ticket prices. This is a good example of how supply and demand affect airfares. Keep in mind that good offers for last-minute flights can still be found; however, it is not as likely. 

3. When Are Flights The Most Expensive?

Ticket prices are higher when there is a strong demand for air travel. Summertime, Christmas and other holidays are among the busiest times for the travel industry. Not only flights but accommodations also tend to shoot up in price. Last-minute flights are more likely to be pricier than pre-booked flights.

4. How To Save Money On Airfares?

Flexibility allows you to choose travel dates and travel routes with a more reasonable price range. Flight comparison allows you to compare different flying options and their prices to find the best offers. Tracking airfares over a period of time allows you to choose ideal booking windows and be alerted with good offers. Optimising loyalty programs, frequent flyer miles and travel credits are great ways to save more.

Why Are Flights So Expensive - Reasons And Tips On Saving More

Air travel is surely a convenient and time-saving way to travel to different destinations across the globe in the shortest amount of time. Why are flights so expensive? There is no one good reason. Airfares fluctuate often and can get budget travellers overwhelmed at times, especially during peak seasons. 

By understanding the factors that influence flight prices and using the above flight booking tips, you can be a more experienced traveller and find better flight deals with less stress involved. Find this article helpful? Be sure to share this with your travel companions, and follow CabinZero for more travel tips.

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