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Why Are Airplane Tickets So Expensive?

The other day I was planning a trip to Japan with my friends because we wanted to see the awesome culture and history that the country has to offer. When we went to go look at flight tickets, we were stunned to see that the airplane tickets were going as high as $1,200. Why are airline tickets so expensive?

We were going in with the mindset that the price would be around $600 to $800 as that was around the price that I paid for to go to Japan a few years earlier.

But “Wow”, this is a dramatic change.

I knew things were going up in price gradually but I never expected it to happen so fast.

It was only a few years ago when everything was still cheap. You could travel around at rock bottom prices, buy food at rock bottom prices, get gas at rock bottom prices, and more.

But as you have probably seen yourself as well, everything lately is steadily going up in price.

Which made me ask the question of “Why?” Why are things going up in price? What exactly are we paying for that demands such an increase?

Hence the reason for this post.

In this post, I want to shed some light as to why airplane tickets are so expensive. I will also tell you that there is still a way to get cheaper tickets and how to do so.

So lets get started!

Why Are Airplane Tickets So Expensive?

Why Have Airplane Tickets Become More Expensive?

There are four main reasons as to why airplane tickets have become so expensive.


Did you ever notice that your choice of airlines have begun getting more and more smaller?

Back in the past, there was a time where there was all sorts of different airlines floating around. Nowadays most of them have either merged together or have gone bankrupt.

This led to a decrease in the amount of airlines out there for people to choose from. And because there are less airlines to choose from, it also means less competition.

No longer will different airlines have to lower their cost any longer as they don’t have anybody to compete with. Instead, they can pick whatever price they want since competition is so limited.

Price Of Oil

Another major reason as to why your airplane tickets have become so expensive is the fact that oil has also gotten more expensive.

It was only a few years ago when airlines were paying anywhere from $0.80 cents to a dollar for a gallon of oil. These days they are paying upwards of $3.20 and up which means the price of oil has basically quadrupled in price.

This is one of the biggest reasons as to why your airplane tickets are so expensive.

And you can expect oil prices to steadily increase in time which will mean your ticket prices will only keep going up.

Capacity Control

Back in the past, there was a lot more supplies for the average traveler. However these days, airlines have reduced the supply relative to constant demand.

The reason for this is because airlines are able to push up the average cost since they are not carrying the most price-sensitive things any more.

For example, your plane might have fewer and fewer economy seats left as most of the seats have been transformed to accompany higher class travelers.

This is why your ticket prices have gone up.

Extra Fees

Aside from the first three reasons, another big reason is the cost of added fees. These fees are also one of the main reasons as to why the cost of your airplane ticket is so expensive.

Currently, the fees for your airplane ticket are as followed:

  • September 11th Security Fee of $2.50 (up to a maximum of $10 per round trip)
  • Passenger Facility Charge of $4.50 per segment (up to a maximum of $18 per round trip)
  • US Federal Domestic Segment Fee of $3.70 per segment
  • US Travel Facilities Tax of $8.20 per direction (only applicable to flights to/from Alaska and Hawaii and the 48 contiguous US states or between Alaska and Hawaii)
  • US Immigration User Fee of $7
  • US Customs User Fee of $5.50
  • US APHIS User Fee of $5
  • US International Transportation Tax of $16.30 per arrival or departure
  • Foreign government security/tourism/airport/international transportation taxes and fees of up to $290 (varies widely by destination and fluctuates with exchange rates)

As you can see, that is a whole lot of fee’s you are paying for on top of other things.

Not only that, but because of the economy being in a downfall and following 9/11, airlines have started to reduce the number of routes they offered as well as the frequency of the flight. They did this so try to save as much money as they can as well as pack more passengers onto a plane to make it fuller.

This is why if you live far away from a major city, you have probably seen the prices of your ticket go up. Not only that but you’ll also have fewer flights to choose from.

With all of these things added up, fewer planes, less competition, higher capacity, oil prices, and more, they can charge quite a bit for tickets.

And there is nothing you can do.

Ticket prices are only going to continue going up from here on out.

Why Do Airplane Ticket Prices Fluctuate?

Why Do Airplane Ticket Prices Fluctuate?

Now aside from tickets being so expensive these days, you should be happy to know that prices do fluctuate. Depending on many factors, they can either go up or down for many different reasons.

Nobody is able to predict when something will be higher or lower, only airlines know what will happen. However there are four main factors that determine the price of a ticket. We have listed those 4 factors in the above section with Competition and Oil Prices being the main driving factor behind the price of your ticket.

When you add up those 4 factors, it will affect a thing in which people call the “Load Factor”. Airlines are all about driving profits for their company which means they will need to calculate the plane’s load factor heavily.

Basically it means the number of seats sold for a particular flight. Airlines want this number to be as high as possible with being maxed out as being the best outcome for them.

And depending on how many seats the airplane has sold so far, they will constantly change the price of tickets to make sure that the plane gets filled to its max capacity.

For example: If the number of seats being sold on an airplane is low, they will lower the price of tickets to get more people to buy them. The opposite is true when the number of seats is high and in demand, then the airline will typically raise prices during this time.

You can usually see a good example of this being done when you search for flights during holidays and non holidays. During a holiday, ticket prices are usually sky high and expensive, where as non holidays the ticket prices will tend to be on the cheaper side of things.

How To Find Cheaper Airline Tickets?

Now although airplane tickets are pretty expensive nowadays, it is still possible for a person to find cheap tickets.

The only thing you’ll need to do is to be flexible.

After all, airlines are constantly changing their prices to try to get people to buy their tickets. Which means if you are flexible enough and buy during the right circumstances and time, you’ll be able to grab some really cheap tickets.

The recommended time frame to buy a ticket is usually around the 3 months mark before you go to your destination. As this will usually be the time where you’ll be able to see cheaper fares for many destinations.

If you book really close to your departing time such as 1 month before or even a few weeks before, you are really limited on your choices. You’ll be playing into their hand and paying out high prices just to grab a ticket. Most tickets are usually sold within 30 days of the departure time which means booking this late is always going to be a bad idea.

That is why you have to be flexible with your dates.

If you are flexible, you’ll be able to get things more geared towards your side and be able to find much better deals.

Aside from that, there are also plenty of other tips and tricks you can use to help get yourself cheaper flight tickets.

Some of them are:

  • Purchase on tickets Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays. Never purchase tickets during holidays. Try to be as flexible as you can when you are buying your tickets.
  • Buy your tickets in advance as early as 3 months out before your departure date.
  • Instead of buying a direct flight, try to find flights where you’ll fly multiple airplanes for cheaper discounts.

For a list of more ways for you to find cheaper flights, you can check out my post on “How to find cheap flights“.


The days of cheap airplane tickets are long over. From now on the tickets are only going to increase as time goes by. This is now the new normal for airplane tickets.

However if you understand how ticket prices work, then you’ll be able to make things much better for you as you find yourself paying less than others for many destinations.

So hopefully this post was helpful in some sort of way and help you better understand why are airplane tickets so expensive.

Also if you are interested in reading some of my other posts about traveling, you can do so by clicking these links:

Or you can check out all my blog posts by click this link.

Hope you have a safe and fun trip~

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