Airfare surged 20% over pre-pandemic levels in March as inflation hit vacations

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Travelers wait in line at the Delta Air Lines check-in area at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021.
Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Airfare is surging as higher fuel prices and strong travel demand drive up the cost of flights.

Consumers spent $8.8 billion on domestic U.S. airline tickets last month, up 28% compared with March 2019, before the pandemic, while fares surged 20%, according to data from the Adobe Digital Economy Index that was published Tuesday. Bookings only rose 12%.

Higher fares are one of the latest examples of inflation, which is hitting consumers at gas stations, supermarkets and in the housing market.

Airline executives have been confident that they could pass along the bulk in the surge in jet fuel to travelers, who so far appear willing to shell out more for travel after two years of Covid lockdowns.

Delta Air Lines executives will kick off airline reporting season before the market opens on Wednesday and provide an outlook on travel demand and fares.

For travel from June through August, online spending is up 8% compared with 2019, and bookings are up 3%, according to the Adobe data.

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