These Cities Have Seen the Steepest Hikes in Airfare in 2022

For once the answer is not New York

A folded up dollar bill in the shape of a paper airplane with the sky in the background. We look at the cities that have seen the steepest hikes in airfare in 2022.
If you live near a smaller airport, you're going to pay more.

The effects of inflation are deep-rooted and far-reaching, and it feels like we’re expected to pay an arm and a leg for virtually everything…which has also, in recent days, come to include airfare.

Mercurial by nature, the cost of airfare has remained relatively consistent over the better part of the past year in that it’s not exactly cheap, but not overly expensive either. A Google Flights search to just about any destination in the world has pretty consistently populated a series of flight options, all of which are purportedly “typical” in price. That is, until now.

According to recently released data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, there was an 18.6% jump in the price of airfare from March to April 2022, making it — as Thrifty Traveler’s Gunnar Olson points out — the largest one-month increase in recorded history. Further, prices are also up 33% from last year, meaning we’re paying roughly a third more for flights than we were last spring. That said, there are some U.S. cities that are being effected more so than others.

Per a new study from, “Inflation, the airline industry’s lingering capacity issues due to staffing shortages, and increased traveler demand have created a perfect breeding ground for higher airfare in 2022,” which rings even truer where smaller cities are concerned. Dayton, Ohio, for example — which is serviced by Dayton International Airport — saw the greatest increase in domestic airfare with travelers now paying 42% more on average than they were this time last year. (Dayton was ranked #103 on a list of the country’s busiest airports in 2021, for context.) Greensboro, North Carolina and Flint, Michigan weren’t far behind with 38% increases, followed by Des Moines, Iowa with 36% and Spokane, Washington with 35%.

On the flip side, while some of the larger airports have still seen price hikes, they’ve been far less significant. Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, for example, had the smallest increase in airfare — up just 14% — followed by Houston, Texas (15%); San Juan, Puerto Rico (16%); and Newark and New York (17%).

Of course, the reason for this discrepancy is obvious: There are a limited number of flights and airlines operating out of smaller airports. “Smaller airports offered fewer flights and itineraries than other, bigger cities, but during the pandemic things really shut down,” the site notes. “And now that the country’s travelers are ramping back up, there’s still a more limited flight schedule than can support the consumers right now. When scarcity meets demand, you get inflated prices.”

Fortunately, these types of price fluctuations typically occur in two- to three-month intervals, so hopefully the back half of 2022 will yield more wallet-friendly flight options than the first. In the meantime, experts stress the importance of booking early —that and booking flights out of major airports.


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