If there's anything I've learned over the last nine years of tracking and analyzing airfare, it's that you can expect the unexpected. With airlines going kaput overnight, out of the blue route announcements, and the creation of new cabins out of thin air (e.g., basic economy and economy plus) the industry is always up to something.
Expect Lower Average Airfares to these Locations in 2019
When 2018 started, pundits said to anticipate airfare increases alongside oil prices and industry consolidation. So much for that! Twenty-eighteen had some of the best-unadvertised and flash sale deals in years. Tickets to Western Europe, China, and on U.S. transcontinental flights were routinely the lowest we’ve seen on average throughout the last few years.
More fuel-efficient planes, healthier market competition, and demand are driving factors as to why airfares fall in price, but that isn’t always the contributor. Global economics, industry agreements, and network expansion also play pivotal roles in fare fluctuation. Taking all those factors into account, alongside my daily tracking and data on current trends in the industry, here’s a list of destinations that should see cheaper overall fares for 2019.
Over this past year, we've seen loads of both advertised and unadvertised sales to the 50th state, and we expect that trend to continue. Many of these sales are the result of carriers taking shots at competitor's hub airports by undercutting rivals with deeply discounted deals to the islands, occasionally dropping down to the $300-$350 range from East Coast and Midwest cities—some of the cheapest we’ve ever seen posted!
And 2019 should be no different as Southwest is set to finally make its much talked about entry into the market (pending ETOPS approval). We expect the "Southwest Effect" to bring even more advertised sales to Hawaiian airports. With fiercer competition among the carriers that serve the archipelago, customers will benefit with lower airfares year round.
In 2018, the Brazilian Government introduced a new eVisa program to make it easier for U.S., Canadian, Japanese, and Australian nationals to visit the South American giant. By streamlining the visa process, the Brazilian tourism council has set its hope on enticing more visitors to the country after a drastic drop following the Olympics and World Cup. But that's not the only reason we expect to see lower fares in 2019. The long-awaited approval of an Open Skies Agreement between the U.S. and Brazil was finally implemented halfway through last year. Paving the way for U.S. based airlines to create joint ventures and foreign investments in the Brazilian market.
Following the regulatory change, Brazilian low-cost carriers GOL and Azul jumped at the chance to expand their route map into the United States. Providing a budget alternative in a market that was devoid of those types of carriers previously. Further investments from American, Delta, and United in Brazilian carriers should also bring competitive prices to routes that were once monopolized by South American airlines, which in turn should also drive down airfares in 2019.
Airfares to destinations all over Europe have been on a steady shift downward over the last year or so with the introduction of basic economy and the elbowing in of low-cost carriers across the Atlantic. So why does Portugal stick out as a destination to see more price drops? Simple. Increased service.
Flag-carrier TAP Portugal has big expansion plans in the summer of 2019. The announcement of nonstop flights from Washington DC (IAD), Chicago (ORD), and San Francisco (SFO) will double the airline’s presence in the United States. Delta will follow along by introducing nonstops from Boston (BOS) to the not-so-under-the radar-anymore Portuguese capital. Beyond the added convenience for flyers visiting the budget-friendly European gem, travelers will probably see price drops as well. TAP’s new service to StarAlliance member hubs airports should catch the eye of competitors. So, expect to see Oneworld and SkyTeam airlines retaliate by undercutting prices to Lisbon once these new routes take flight.
Next year is shaping up to be the year for you to book your bucket list break Down Under! The end of 2018 has seen a steady stream of fare sales to Australia from many major markets across America. Tickets that were routinely over $1100 - $1300 roundtrip are now being sold for two-thirds of that price. And it's not only West Coast travelers that can take advantage of these deals. New York (JFK), Dallas (DFW), and Chicago (ORD) airports are often in the mix too, some as low as $675 roundtrip from East Coast airports.
Increased competition and the introduction of more fuel-efficient aircraft have made the journey easier for travelers to stomach on these epic long-haul routes, and that should only continue in 2019. While Australia isn’t considered a budget destination in anyone’s books, the US Dollar is currently the strongest it has been in nearly four years against the AUD. Pair the strong USD with one of our airfare deals and that dream of cuddling koalas could become a reality in 2019, mate!
With all the Brexit buzz coming to a head, travel regulations to the United Kingdom are still up in the air for many of the country's top tourism draws like France and Germany. But for travelers across the pond in the States, a post-Brexit agreement has already been ironed out to allow travel between the two countries to continue as business as usual. To keep that steady influx of visitors, the UK plans to make it even easier for U.S. and citizens of six other nations to visit. Starting in the summer of 2019 ePassport gates will be expanded to allow for a smooth entry on arrivals for the following countries listed here.
So what does this all have to do with airfare to the British Isles? While Europe and Britain have yet to reach an aviation agreement, UK tourism and business will need to attract interest from other parts of the globe, and one way of doing that is by offering better flight deals. Tickets to Britain have been slowly creeping down with competition from low-cost carriers and the introduction of Basic Economy fares, so the model is already in motion. Unfortunately, with some of the highest departure taxes (APD) around, there's only so low airfares to the UK can technically go. But the days of seeing $700-800 average roundtrip prices from most major U.S. airports to London seem to be in the mini-cooper rearview mirror. The British aviation market is one to watch in 2019, with the ongoing cloud of uncertainty and unknowns we may see a major shakeup that could lead to a drop in deals.
America’s Midwestern airports used to get the raw deal on fares before the proliferation of low-cost carriers and major mergers. American, United, and now defunct Northwest and Continental claimed monopolies at many Midwestern airports and jacked up ticket prices. Luckily, those days are gone for many Midwest-based travelers. The increase in service from Frontier, Southwest, Sun Country, and Alaska has forced the big three to price match or else in these formerly one-horse/airline towns.
Southwest’s presence in the region is growing with a heavy focus on St. Louis (STL) and Nashville (BNA) departures being beefed up over the last few years. The same goes with Frontier, as it continues to roll out new routes from Cincinnati (CVG) and Chicago (ORD). Sun Country’s expansion has drastically dropped the average price down in Delta dominated Minneapolis (MSP) and Alaska’s routes to destinations in the Midwest is limited but does bring flash sales to overlooked destinations like Omaha (OMA) and Kansas City (MCI). Instead of airlines going head-to-head in the oversaturated coastal markets expect more expansion to drive down airfares at Midwest airports in 2019.
See all of our best fares to St. Louis (STL), Kansas City (MCI), Minneapolis (MSP), Nashville (BNA), Milwaukee (MKE), Indianapolis (IND), and Chicago (ORD) & (MDW) departing from airports across the U.S. and Canada.
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