Flying to Europe This Summer Is Expensive: Here’s Why

  • Tickets to Europe are averaging just under $1,200, a 37% increase compared to both 2019 and 2022.
  • There’s high demand for international summer travel, but capacity is not at pre-pandemic levels yet. 
  • The costs are likely to cool next summer as travel goes back to normal. 

Americans have their eyes set on international travel — and Europe especially.

Searches for international flights are 42% higher than they were this time last year, with destinations in Europe topping the list, according to travel websites Kayak and Hopper

Prices have also surged. Airfare to Europe is averaging just under $1,200 per round trip ticket, Hopper’s lead economist Hayley Berg told Insider, a 37% increase compared to both 2019 and 2022. If you want to fly to Europe this summer, you’re likely going to spend $300 more than you would have before the pandemic. 

“Most travelers were looking at domestic trips last year,” Berg said. “This year they’ve had the time to really plan European vacations, so we’re seeing outsized demand for travel to Europe, but as of May there’s still only about 84% of the capacity that was available pre-pandemic.”

A lot of demand and not enough seats puts immediate upward pressure on prices, she said. 

Airlines like United and Delta have been ramping up their US to Europe flights, increasing capacity by 31% and 13% respectively compared to 2019, according to data by the flight database OAG seen by Insider. 

But others still haven’t caught up to pre-pandemic levels. German giant Lufthansa, for example, has a planned summer 2023 capacity that is 19% less than what it had in 2019. 

Additionally, while jet fuel is cheaper than last year’s record highs, it’s still pretty expensive at around $90 per barrel. 

“Long haul flights are high cost to operate,” Berg explained. “So the airline really needs a full plane to realize a lot of revenue on those routes, and you have to charge more to keep the margin.” 

Trending destinations in Europe include the usual suspects — London, Paris, Rome — but also less popular places, like Milan, Italy; Montenegro; and the Canary Islands in Spain, according to Berg. 

Asia is right behind Europe in terms of searches, with ticket prices averaging at over $1,800, a 62% increase compared to pre-pandemic times. 

The price increases are dizzying, but fortunately, they’re probably not here to stay. Last year, it was flights within the US that had their most expensive summer in years, averaging $376 round trip. That was mostly due to jet fuel prices and lack of capacity, but prices for 2023 have normalized. 

“Next summer for international will be less expensive than this summer and probably start returning to some level of normalcy similar to what happened with domestic,” Berg said. 

In the meantime, if you really can’t give up on Europe in 2023 and don’t want to spend too much, she suggests waiting until September to go. 

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