May 6, 2021 - Travel

Airfare in Charlotte is going up. Here’s how to save money

American Airlines, Airplane, airline, airport, Charlotte Douglas

Paige Hopkins/Axios Charlotte

Folks are venturing out and into the air again, and airlines are seizing the moment to make up for lost profits.

Why it matters: It’s another case of supply and demand: Flight prices are going up as travel restrictions loosen, more people are vaccinated and looking to get away, and seats on planes become more coveted.

  • The jump in airfare is especially dramatic considering how cheap flights were last year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Everything is going to be ticking up, especially as everybody is looking to make back the money that they lost,” Cathy Reavis, the owner of World Travel Mates tells me. She added that it’ll be even more expensive in 2022.

Driving the news: Charlotte Douglas travelers are feeling the ticket price increase. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that travelers originating from CLT paid an average of $283.30 for their flights in the fourth quarter of 2020. That’s higher than RDU ($263.98) and ATL ($260.21).

WFAE reports that airports where one carrier operates the majority of flights, like Charlotte-Douglas, tend to be more expensive because there’s less competition.

Data: Bureau of Transportation Statistics 

Details: Right now leisure travel is dominating. American Airlines even added trips from Charlotte to popular destinations. [Go deeper]

Through an unscientific search using Google Flights, I compared flights to Honolulu, Miami, and Cancun out of CLT, GSP and RDU. For two of the three trips, GSP and RDU had cheaper fares, but CLT had the most direct flight options.

Be smart: Expect to increase your airfare budget for trips over the next year, but there are a few things you can try to keep costs down:

  • Book early. This is good advice anytime, but especially now as demand is way up.
  • Check smaller airlines. Try indirect routes that may be less expensive. Or smaller airlines that fly out of CLT like Frontier or Spirit.
  • Check nearby airports to compare prices. But be sure to think about the additional travel time that flying out of a different city can add. If you’re going on a long trip you may not feel like the four hour drive from Atlanta afterward, even if it does save money.
  • Keep track of flight deals. If you’re open to multiple destinations for upcoming trips, check apps and sites like Hopper, Google Flights and Scott’s Cheap Flights to get alerted to lower prices.

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