If you’re budgeting for a trip to Disney World, your flight budget might need to be adjusted.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen flight costs increase and other complications (like staffing shortages) hit travel. Southwest Airlines has warned that flight costs could increase soon, and we’ve seen other flight cost increases in the last few months, but things could be CHANGING. Are flight costs going down? Do you need to adjust your budget? And what should you expect for the future? We’ve got all the information you need right here.
How Have Flight Costs Changed?
Each month here at DFB we take a look at average flight costs for an upcoming month. Specifically, we calculate the average cost to fly to Disney World in any given month.
To calculate these numbers, we use a specific method. If you’ve seen our other posts, then you’re likely familiar with that method. But if you’re not, here’s a quick breakdown.
To calculate our numbers, we look at what it would cost to fly to Orlando International Airport (MCO) from various airports around the United States on a few different airlines. Generally, we look for roundtrip flights from New York (JFK or LaGuardia), Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DAL or DFW), Atlanta (ATL), and Denver (DEN) on Southwest, Delta, United, American Airlines, and Spirit.
We only look at a limited range of dates each month and try to pick dates that fall in the middle range of prices, typically avoiding major holidays when possible. We tend to look for trips that would depart on Thursday and return on Monday. We utilize Google Flights to get our flight costs for all airlines except Southwest Airlines (we just use the Southwest Airlines website for those).
All prices we list are base ticket prices and generally don’t include extra fees or tax. When it comes to our price ranges, we calculate 2 averages — a least expensive average and a most expensive average. Essentially, for the least expensive average, we look for the cheapest flight from each airport listed above to MCO on each airline listed above. We then look for the cheapest returning flight from MCO back to each designated location on each airline.
We then do the same calculation, except we look for the most expensive flights to/from the locations above and MCO on each of the airlines identified. That gives us our low and high end for the averages.
We try to limit things by sticking only to flights that arrive on the same day of their departure (a.k.a. we avoid flights that don’t get you there until the next day). We also try to stick to “Wanna Get Away” tickets from Southwest, and we only look at costs for a single individual.
So far, we’ve done these calculations for every month from November of 2021 through October of 2022. And we’ve seen some increases and decreases along the way. The chart below shows our findings of the low and high averages we’ve found.
In terms of the averages for the low end, things were moving in a pretty good direction. The low-end flight costs we calculated for September of 2022 actually had an average cost of $253.98 round trip. That was lower than the average low-end costs we saw in August, July, June, May, April, and even March of 2022. The last time we saw a number below $250 was actually back in February of 2022.
But for October 2022, things changed a bit. The average flight cost on the low end was actually $343.10 — more expensive than September 2022, but cheaper than August 2022 and several months before that.
According to AP News, the average airline ticket price actually dropped 7.8% in July after a 1.8% decline in June. But the average price of an airline ticket in July of 2022 was still up 27.7% compared to July of 2021.
On the high-end side of things, the costs are complicated. The most expensive flights to get to Orlando are still pretty pricey and though they didn’t go down in September, they DID go down for October. The September 2022 high-end average was $1,067.85. That was higher than the average we saw in August and May, and more expensive than the high-end numbers we saw from November 2021 through March 2022. But for October, the high-end average was $954.63, marking a decline!
So what does it all mean?
What Could the Future Hold?
Well, it seems when we look at the cheapest flights from these airports and airlines to/from Orlando, flight costs went down for a bit but could be going up again. Many kids are back in school from summer break, so that may have impacted earlier costs and could still impact things again. But the small increase seen for October could be an indication of where flight costs are headed this fall.
On the higher side of flight cost averages, things were holding steady, but we did see a decline for October flight costs. If that trend continues, that could be good news at least for those who happen to need those flights.
You have to also keep in mind that the dates we selected for each month could affect things, and flight costs change daily (if not hourly) so things are constantly in flux. Still, this is a peek into the averages we’ve seen.
And they seem to line up with the numbers other folks are seeing too. Hopper (the online booking platform) had data that showed that domestic airfare in the U.S. was expected to drop to around $286 in August.
They cited a reduction in demand growth for August and September, which could drive airlines to lower their prices. Interestingly, we have seen airlines offering some STEEP discounts recently, with some airfare prices dropping to as low as $19 for a limited time, or deals offering 50% off flights.
But it’s not all good news. While some gasoline prices for cars have been going down, Hopper notes that jet fuel prices are still 80% ABOVE what they were in 2019 and 90% up compared to 2021. Additionally, capacity on many domestic airlines is still being limited to about 95% of 2019 levels and even lower for international seats. That means people will be fighting for potentially fewer seats.
Plus, flights continue to be delayed or canceled, though some of those disruptions have gone down in some weeks.
Orlando International Airport doesn’t escape these problems. In fact, it is on the list of the top 10 global airports with the most summer delays, and ultimately ranked in the top 3 for delays over the summer.
Well, travel right now can be complicated. In some ways, it looks like certain prices could be going down for the fall. But capacity limits, flight delays, the cost of gas, and some increases on the lower-end cost averages, could complicate things a bit.
What does your flight budget look like? You may want to revisit it (particularly if you haven’t revisited it for a while) and see if you need to make any adjustments ahead of booking your next trip.
Trying to book the cheapest flight possible? You may want to look into what travel days are best for snagging those cheap flights, track your flight using travel apps or websites, and keep checking to see if any deals pop up that could help you get a good discount.
We’ll continue to track flight costs each month and let you know what we see. In the meantime, you can click here to see our very best tips for flying through Orlando International Airport, or click here to see the 5 BEST airport lounges in the U.S. Stay tuned for more Disney and travel news!
Are you planning to fly soon? Have you noticed a change in flight costs? Tell us in the comments.