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Holiday season airfare could be among most expensive ever, report says

Travelers looking to take to the skies for the upcoming holiday season could be facing some of the highest airfares on record, recent reports said. 

Prices obtained by NBC News on Saturday from online travel brand Hopper found that getting on a plane this winter will cost a premium. The average Thanksgiving round-trip ticket is $281, NBC reported, a 25 percent increase from last year. People looking to fly over Christmas will pay even more, with the average round-trip ticket reported to be $435 — up 55 percent from 2021

NBC reported that these were Hopper's highest average prices in at least five years. 

While some may look to rising inflation as a key factor in the skyrocketing airfare, Hopper noted another factor still involved — COVID-19. Hayley Berg, an economist with Hopper, told NBC there are still only 87 percent of the seats available on the average plane compared to pre-pandemic. 

"So you're still missing 15 percent of the flights and seats that would be otherwise taking off," Berg said. 

The increasing cost of jet fuel, in part due to constraints on petroleum owing to the war in Ukraine, is also playing a key role in ticket prices. 

"For airlines, the cost of flying each seat is higher than ever before, and for consumers, there are fewer seats available to buy and each is going to be more expensive," Berg said.

According to experts, the best way to avoid these high prices is to book airfare as early as possible and keep a flexible schedule.