Key takeaways

  • The average cost of flying domestically in the U.S. is influenced by several factors, including when you book the flight, when you plan to fly out, what airport you’re flying out of and even the current cost of jet fuel — not to mention general travel demand and airline staffing issues.
  • For the top 10 busiest airports in the U.S., the average ticket costs range from $261.63 to $465.68, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
  • This year, travel companies expect demand growth to slow slightly, and airfare prices are expected to decrease from the levels seen in 2023.

Nearly two out of every three adults planned to take a summer vacation in 2023 — up slightly from the number who planned trips in 2022, according to Bankrate survey data. But how do last year’s travel plans compare to this year?

Instead of expecting more of the “revenge travel” plans that fueled high growth in 2023, many travel companies are expecting that growth to slow down, according to data gathered by Reuters and travel companies like Expedia. But while travel companies may not see as much growth this year as in 2023, they’re still expecting travel demand to remain strong.

What those vacations look like and how they’re paid for, however, could look different than last year. Twenty-seven percent of Americans are willing to take on debt in order to travel this year, according to a Bankrate survey on discretionary spending.

If you’re still thinking about how you’re going to pay for your own summer travel plans, you’ll have an easier time planning with access to realistic numbers. We’ll go over the average cost of domestic airfare in the U.S. and the cheapest time to fly, as well as other pricing statistics and travel tips that might help you avoid those sky-high ticket prices.

Average cost of domestic airfare in the U.S.

If you’re asking how much is a plane ticket, here’s a look at the average cost of airfare for domestic flights out of the top 10 busiest airports in the U.S. in Q4 of 2023, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

City and airport Cost of airfare
Los Angeles (LAX) $416.69
Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) $388.55
Denver (DEN) $357.58
Atlanta (ATL) $400.40
Newark (EWR) $426.74
Boston (BOS) $395.81
Seattle (SEA) $395.17
Dallas (DFW) $421.67
Orlando (MCO) $261.63
San Francisco (SFO) $465.68

Airline price statistics

Bankrate insights
  • Prices for airline tickets decreased by 7.1 percent between March 2023 and March 2024, going from an average of $286.81 to an average of $266.48. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Airline ticket prices are still up slightly compared to pre-pandemic prices but are much closer, with just a 2.6 percent increase between March 2019 and March 2024 (BLS)
  • The most expensive airport to fly out of for U.S. domestic travel is Guam (GUM) with an average cost of $1,526.51 (Bureau of Transportation Statistics)
  • The least expensive airport to fly out of for U.S. domestic travel is Fort Collins/Loveland, CO (FNL) with an average cost of $83 (Bureau of Transportation Statistics)
  • The average cost of a “good deal” U.S. domestic round-trip airline ticket for April 2024 is $290, which is up just 1.7 percent from 2023 prices (Hopper)
  •  27 percent of U.S. adults are willing to take on debt in order to travel this year (Bankrate)

Average flight cost changes in the U.S.

A number of factors determine airfare prices in the U.S., including the flight’s distance, the time of year you’ll be traveling, the cost of fuel and your time of purchase.

While the average cost of flying in the U.S. fell during the pandemic in 2020, travelers booking domestic flights are still seeing higher costs compared to historical flight prices — although that gap is much smaller now than in 2023.

Last year, travel demand, jet fuel prices and airline staffing challenges contributed to the high ticket prices. While some staffing challenges still remain, many travel companies are in a better place to meet demand this year, especially since they’re not expecting as much travel demand growth as last year. Jet fuel prices are also down 4 percent from April 2023, according to Q2 2024 data from Hopper. Prices are still 34 percent higher than they were in 2019, however.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average cost of domestic flight travel is now closer to 2019 levels, as you can see in this table:

Month 2019 airfare cost 2020 airfare cost 2021 airfare cost 2022 airfare cost 2023 airfare cost 2024 airfare cost
January $248.43 $255.20 $200.83 $210.76 $264.63 $247.61
February $259.05 $265.14 $197.20 $222.23 $281.22 $263.95
March $259.70 $232.11 $197.13 $243.69 $286.82 $266.48
April $268.77 $203.34 $222.95 $297.14 $294.55 Data unavailable
May $283.28 $201.65 $250.21 $344.85 $298.49 Data unavailable
June $283.00 $206.07 $256.68 $344.10 $279.22 Data unavailable
July $268.31 $204.79 $243.61 $311.21 $253.35 Data unavailable
August $259.85 $199.50 $212.88 $283.91 $246.19 Data unavailable
September $263.15 $197.42 $212.88 $284.31 $246.15 Data unavailable
October $269.87 $215.99 $205.99 $294.34 $255.48 Data unavailable
November $268.99 $223.36 $215.16 $292.66 $257.22 Data unavailable
December $252.41 $205.98 $215.16 $268.52 $243.35 Data unavailable

5 most (and least) expensive origin cities for domestic airfare

Plane ticket prices vary greatly across the country; discrepancies that can be chalked up to a number of factors, including the difference in the number of airlines that serve that particular airport and overall demand for flights. It will likely cost you more to fly into a smaller airport with less foot traffic than one of the nation’s major airports.

So how much does a plane ticket cost? Here’s a look at the top five most expensive airports to fly out of versus the top five most affordable airports, based on how much you can expect to pay for airfare. All data is from the Q4 2023 report of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

 Top 5 most expensive airports

City/territory and airport Average cost of airfare
Guam (GUM) $1,526.51
Unalaska, AK (DUT) $1,320.58
Pago Pago, American Samoa (PPG) $1,240.95
Adak Island, AK (ADK) $903.00
Havre, MT (HVR) $903.00

Top 5 most affordable airports

City and airport Average cost of airfare
Fort Collins/Loveland, CO (FNL) $83.00
Branson, MO (BKG) $85.52
Mobile, AL (BFM) $88.76
Concord, NC (USA) $118.72
Santa Maria, CA (SMX) $122.65

When is the cheapest time to fly?

January and February are the least expensive months of the year to fly, according to a 2024 study conducted by CheapAir. Flights in November and July, on the other hand, are the most expensive. For summer travel, planning for an August departure date could help you rake in more savings compared to flying in June or July.

As for the cheapest day of the week to fly, the middle of the week — so a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday — tends to be more affordable. In fact, according to CheapAir, choosing a Tuesday or Wednesday flight could save you an average of $99 to $102 per ticket, compared to flying on Sunday. Thursday is also considered a better choice than Friday through Sunday when it comes to flying. Departing on a Thursday can also be beneficial, saving travelers an average of $52 when compared to Sunday.

As for the weekend, flying out on a Saturday will typically be cheaper than flying out on a Sunday or Monday.

How to save on air travel

Despite high prices, there are still a few strategies you can use to trim your overall costs when booking a flight. Those strategies include to:

  • Opt for a travel card. The top travel credit cards can help you earn valuable rewards to put toward flights, hotel stays and other travel-related expenses. If you already have a travel card, see if there are any rewards you can redeem to maximize your savings. You may also be able to cut down on other costs like travel insurance since many top travel cards come with numerous travel protections.
  • Book ahead. Timing is everything and can translate to major savings when purchasing airline tickets. The best time to book a domestic flight is between 74 to 21 days before your travel date, according to the same study conducted by CheapAir. Expedia’s 2024 Air Travel Hacks Report offers similar guidance, with the recommendation of booking a domestic flight at least 28 days before departure.
  • Set price alerts. Monitoring flight prices can be a job in and of itself. Automate where you can. Sites like Skyscanner, Hopper, Kayak and Google Flights let you set price alerts and will notify you when the airline ticket you’re hoping to purchase drops below a certain price point.
  • Be flexible. Not only does the timing of your ticket purchase matter, but when you choose to fly is key to saving money as well. When you start planning your trip, see if there’s any flexibility in when you plan to venture off. If you can travel during the middle of the week or on a Saturday, you may save a considerable amount on airfare.

The bottom line

With a busy travel season ahead, it’s important to make your travel plans early and keep in mind that flexibility is key when scoring the lowest fare. Search around your area to see if flying out of a different airport could help you save. And if you have some wiggle room in your schedule, see if changing your travel dates could cut down your costs as well.

Lastly, set yourself up for success by allowing for enough time to do your research, monitoring and comparing deals and looking for ways to redeem credit card points so that you can rake in extra savings.

Bankrate’s Travel Toolkit can help you find even more ways to save as you plan for your next trip, whether you’re flying domestically to visit family or flying internationally to go on that big vacation abroad.