Lower airfares will be available in 2020, but they’ll be harder to find

Dec 18, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Next year is already shaping up to be a good one for air travelers in the U.S.

A strong economy means airlines are generally doing well financially, and for many airline passengers, that equates to a better experience on the ground and in the sky.

“When airlines make more money, they do tend to reinvest that in newer aircraft, in terminal upgrades, in new technologies and the onboard experience,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research, told The Points Guy.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news.

But while airlines may be riding high, most passengers shouldn’t expect any relief for their wallets.

“Airlines always try to raise fares; it’s just like in any business. You want to get more money in subsequent years than you did in past years for the same product,” Harteveldt said. “I expect that we will see airlines push through fare hikes where they can and when they can.”

But those increases will mainly affect business travelers, most likely, so vacationers should still be on the lookout for good deals in 2020.

Hopper, a farecasting app that targets the leisure market, released a forecast that said its users have been finding cheap airfare so far for the new year.

“Airfare reached a four year low in 2019, with good deal round-trip domestic airfare averaging just shy of $275 per ticket, and round-trip international airfare averaging around $800 per ticket,” the company said of the travel booked through its platform.

Hopper predicted discounted airfares will continue to fall in 2020, reaching an average price of $196 for a round-trip domestic itinerary.

Related: 12 travel predictions we’re betting will come true in 2020

But, Harteveldt said, those deals may be hard to come by.

“Travelers will have to work harder to find the airfares that meet their budgets,” he said. “That may mean leisure travelers will have to be more careful when they plan, perhaps more open to last-minute deals if there’s a last-minute fare sale that takes place, or taking airlines that offer less convenient flight times or airlines they might not be as familiar with.”

In 2019, low-cost carriers like Spirit, Allegiant and Sun Country all expanded their route networks. That means in some markets, even legacy airlines will have to increasingly compete on price.

“I think there will be options for the consumer to still get very good value in 2020,” Harteveldt said.

Featured photo by Matthias Balk/picture alliance via Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.