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Holiday flight price increases are in full force

Jaclyn Kucey

Photo by Jaclyn Kucey

The holidays are right around the corner, and people are starting to make plans to fly home and visit family.  

It’s expected that during high travel seasons, flight prices tend to go up. However, flight prices this year seem to be more expensive than ever.

Due to COVID-19, air travel became quite tricky, especially with crossing borders. Not to mention the fear of catching the virus in airports that see thousands of people from all over the world. Because of this, there were not many people travelling by air.

According to an article written by CBC, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported a 60 per cent dip in the number of passengers who flew in 2020 compared to 2019 and found nearly a 75 per cent decrease in international travel demand in July 2021. 

Unfortunately, airlines and the air-travel industry struggled and were forced to lay off thousands of employees. The demand for air travel is returning, and airlines are struggling to re-employ.

What are the holidays without seeing family?

I have family in California, Ontario, and Newfoundland who planned to visit Edmonton for Christmas, but they decided to stay home due to the astronomical flight price hike. This is very unfortunate for several reasons.

  1. We won’t be able to get together for yet another Christmas.
  2. They won’t be able to visit the only living grandparent in our family, who is 89 years old.
  3. We can’t predict future flight prices, so we don’t know when we can see them next.

Flight prices depend on multiple factors. One crucial factor is the travel demand. If more people book flights, more flights are needed. If more flights are required, more jet fuel is required. Higher demand for jet fuel increases the price with supply and demand. High jet fuel prices then increase flight prices.

Now, the holidays are bringing family home, and airlines are gauging people once again.

Cheap flights could mean the longest path

In Sept. 2021, a one-way flight from Edmonton (YEG) to Toronto (YYZ) was as low as $79. Today, the same trip on Dec. 22 would set you back $307. Fortunately, this is a direct flight, so flight time and prices don’t change.

Source: Google


Source: Google

A one-way flight from San Francisco (SFO) to YEG on Dec. 22 would be $577, while ten days earlier on Dec. ninth is $186. The flight on Dec. 22 would also take you over 23 hours to get to Edmonton. This price doesn’t include the cost of a hotel or food in the 16-hour overnight layover in Palm Springs.

Source: Google

To avoid this long travel day, people filter these flight prices to only show travel days under seven hours long. Now the cost is $1,480 for a six-hour travel day. That is a near 2.6% price increase on a flight that is still much longer than the average four hours and fifty-nine minutes flight time from SFO to YEG.

Jet fuel prices

According to the IATA and S&P Global Platts, the high jet fuel price will continue to go up.

The hike in price does not make sense to me whatsoever. We are currently in a pandemic. People are trying to save money. Would you not inspire more people to travel over the holidays if the price was lower? 

CNBC wrote an article about the flight price hike and found that the price increase is correlated with the lack of staff.

This equation is unfortunate, but prices will continue to climb as long as there are low staff and high demand. 

Hopefully, by the next Holiday season, we can see more accessible prices for flights. 

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