Adobe Digital Economy Index: Prices for domestic flights jump 20 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels

Traveler waiting for the flight in airport.

Consumer demand for air travel picks up — Palm Springs tops domestic travel destination.

The Adobe Digital Economy Index continues to track the airline recovery, with new data on U.S. domestic flight bookings online. Adobe provides the most comprehensive report of its kind, measuring direct consumer transactions from six of the top 10 U.S. airlines and over 150 billion web visits, to report on online spend, booking growth, pricing trends, and top destinations domestically.

Domestic flight bookings in March 2022 drove $8.8 billion in online spend, a significant 28 percent increase over 2019 levels (compared to March 2019 spend) before the pandemic. This represents a 32 percent increase from the month prior (Feb. 2022, $6.6 billion), where spend had been six percent above 2019 levels. In the first 3 months of 2022, consumers have spent a total of $21 billion in domestic flights online. In all of 2021 as a reference point, $56 billion was spent.

Flight prices spiking

As demand picks up, prices have spiked. In March 2022, prices were 20 percent higher compared to 2019 levels (and 15 percent higher month-over-month). Contrast this with February 2022, where prices were 5 percent higher than 2019 levels. In January 2022, prices were 3 percent lower than 2019 levels.

Inflation in ticket prices is now having a greater impact on consumer purchasing power. While online spend in March 2022 is up 28 percent versus 2019 levels, as cited previously, actual bookings are up just 12 percent — On a month-over-month (MoM) basis, online spend in March 2022 is up 32 percent, while bookings are up just 15 percent.

“Consumers have seen online prices for physical goods rise now for 22 consecutive months, per the Adobe Digital Price Index, and inflation is becoming more prominent for services as well,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights. “The unleash of pent-up demand has been a major driving factor, as the desire for air travel is coming back more aggressively than anticipated.”

Looking ahead

Based on arrival sites, the top 10 domestic destinations for those traveling from April to May 2022 include: Palm Springs, California; Orlando, Florida — Pensacola, Florida — Fort Myers, Florida — Kailua-Kona, Hawaii — Savannah, Georgia — Lihue, Hawaii — Tampa, Florida — North Charleston, South Carolina — Austin, Texas (Top 10 destinations are based on lift and not volume).

Looking farther out, domestic bookings for summer travel (June 2022 to August 2022) are picking up: Online spend is up 8 percent compared to the comparable period in 2019, while bookings are up by 3 percent. Memorial Day weekend is not seeing the same uptick: Online spend is down 6 percent over 2019, while bookings are down by 12 percent.

Methodology: The Adobe Digital Economy Index offers the most comprehensive set of insights of its kind, based on analysis through Adobe Analytics that covers over 150 billion visits to travel, leisure and hospitality sites — measuring transactions from six of the top 10 U.S. airlines (more than any other technology company).