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A Snapshot of the Impact of Coronavirus on Airfare [Data Study]

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Alex Miller

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

Countries Visited: 34U.S. States Visited: 29

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury

Keri Stooksbury


Countries Visited: 41U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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In recent weeks, the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to worldwide repercussions. Businesses have been forced to shut down, citizens have been encouraged to quarantine themselves for the foreseeable future, and the stock market has taken a massive hit.

Of course, stopping the spread of the virus is paramount at the moment, and countries who have avoided an outbreak are taking steps to minimize the introduction of the illness within their borders. There has even been an international initiative to encourage people to practice social distancing and stay indoors in order to stay healthy. 

Accordingly, the travel industry has taken a huge hit during this time. Vacations are being canceled at an alarming rate, and in response, the cost of flights has significantly plummeted. Our team wanted to know more about the effect that the coronavirus has had on airfare, so we decided to build our own dataset. The results can be found below.

Average Impact of Coronavirus on Airfare by Airport

Based on our data, we found the average cost of a plane ticket to one of Google’s recommended destinations from each major U.S. airport. We then took the average of cost and savings for all of the airports to get an idea of the national average.

On average, before the COVID-19 outbreak, a flight would cost around $309. This was based on airfare costs from the 35 busiest airports in the United States. After the coronavirus impacted the travel industry, the average cost of a flight dropped to $163. Additionally, travelers are saving an average of $146 on airfare, regardless of their destination.

In the table below, you can find the average cost of a flight, broken down for each airport. You’ll find the average cost of a flight originating from each airport to one of Google’s recommended destinations before and after the coronavirus pandemic, the average savings on a plane ticket, and the average discount percentage.

Average Impact of Coronavirus on Airfare by Destination

We then looked at Google Flights’ recommended destinations for the 35 busiest airports in the U.S. to see which places were recommended most often based on airfare. These were the top destinations recommended based on the amount passengers could save on airfare. Portland, OR was the top destination, but there are a few major international destinations that were recommended, including Havana and further down the list San Jose del Cabo.

As uncertainty about containment policies and confusion over travel bans has progressed, it’s likely that these prices will continue to drop in response to a continued lack of demand for travel. Airlines everywhere are offering cancellations and changes with no fee to accommodate the unprecedented effect that the coronavirus has had on the travel industry as a whole. Although airfare prices are constantly evolving, it’s likely that we’ll continue to see these low prices for the entirety of the quarantine period and even after containment policies have been lifted.

If you’re wondering how a particular destination compares to the rest, see the full list of the recommended destinations below:

Analysis Methodology

To get a sample of how much lower airfare is, on average, as a result of the coronavirus, our team searched the 35 busiest airports in the U.S. using Google Flights. Using the results for each airport, we compiled the recommended destinations for a week-long trip in April 2020 with flexible dates. This data was collected the day after President Trump addressed the U.S. about the seriousness of the coronavirus.

Final Thoughts

The coronavirus has caused a series of unprecedented events not seen in modern history, and the long-term effects of quarantine and containment practices are likely going to affect society long after the threat of the virus is abated. It will be interesting to see how the travel industry bounces back once people resume their normal activities. However, in the meantime, airfare prices are a great indicator of the health of the travel industry and this dataset represents a clear indication that the coronavirus has had a crushing effect on airlines and tourism.

About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.


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