Why is $383 a summer traveler's magic number? It's the average cost of a round-trip domestic ticket. If your wanderlust calls for international travel this summer, $880 is the number to keep in mind.
Shopping for summer airfare is no small expense, especially when there are multiple travelers in your party. A family of four is looking at spending over $1,500 on airfare alone this summer – and that's assuming their destination is stateside.
According to online travel agent Travelocity, summer domestic airfare is expected to be 3 percent higher than la year ago. But while higher airfares been the trend every year since 2009, there are specific routes that buck the trend, some nearly 30 percent cheaper than last summer.
"The tide on pricing is rising but there are still pockets of deals around, those pockets are just getting smaller," Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare, told ABCNews.com.
|Origin||Destination||2012 Avg. Ticket Price||20122 Avg. Ticket Price||Fare Change||Change in Popularity|
|New York City||Bahamas||$ 404.27||$ 451.73||-10.5%||69%|
|Columbus||Las Vegas||$ 316.02||$ 353.17||-10.5%||75%|
|Phoenix||New York City||$ 340.17||$ 387.96||-12.3%||57%|
|Portland||Los Angeles||$ 231.43||$ 269.82||-14.2%||61%|
|San Francisco Bay||Las Vegas||$ 202.42||$ 238.33||-15.1%||48%|
|Los Angeles||Philadelphia||$ 289.79||$ 347.79||-16.7%||80%6|
|Boston||Chicago||$ 220.29||$ 271.74||-18.9%||62%|
|Philadelphia||Los Angeles||$ 300.86||$ 387.32||-22.3%||89%|
|Denver||New York City||$ 272.09||$ 351.03||-22.5%||43%|
|Chicago||Boston||$ 204.90||$ 290.38||-29.4%||33%|
Take Portland, for example. Seaney says it's "perennially been a high-priced airport and we have seen some recent relief from those highs lately."
Or, a destination may be falling out of favor with travelers, leading to less demand and lower prices. This is likely the case on the New York City to Bahamas route. Seaney said the Bahamas are likely seeing demand drop as Costa Rica's popularity surges.
And to be fair, a specific route may be showing a decline because it was unnaturally inflated last year, say for a specific event in the destination.
Travelocity cites low-cost carriers as the reason these destinations are experiencing lower prices. Spokesman Joel Frey said the website's data showed low-cost carriers were primarily responsible for the declines on these specific routes.
Seaney cited the low-cost carrier everyone loves to hate as the reason behind the low fares between Boston and Chicago. He said Spirit Airlines has a $99 one-way fare between the two cities that isn't matched by the other carriers. Just know you'll pay extra for the carry-on bag.
In addition to these routes having lower airfare this summer than last, they've also gained in popularity, suggesting that people are traveling, but they're traveling smart. A recent survey by TripAdvisor supports the notion that more people are flying this year: 91 percent of respondents said they plan to fly domestically in 2012, compared with 84 percent that did last year. International flight plans are also on the rise, with 65 percent planning a flight out of the country, up from 55 percent in 2011.
Four Tips for Beating Higher Airfare, No Matter What Route You Fly
1. Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. These are the least-traveled days of the week and, in turn, the cheapest to fly.
2. Consider alternate airports. Flying to West Palm Beach and only finding sky-high fares? Don't forget Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports just a short drive away. For New York City, don't forget Newark and White Plains. For Boston, don't forget Providence. For Los Angeles, check out Long Beach. For Philadelphia, try Atlantic City. You get the idea.
3. Connections are almost always cheaper. If you have the time and the patience, it's almost a guaranteed money saver to book a flight with a layover.
4. Early-morning flights are often cheaper than mid-morning and evening flights. Bonus: They're also the most likely to be on-time.