Where Flights are Expensive Right Now (& Where to Go Instead!)

The days of record-high airfare to every destination around the globe appear to be numbered. Flights are getting cheaper again, but that depends a lot on where you’re looking to travel.

We’ve talked a lot recently about how airfare is decreasing just in time for summer and how we’re finding some of the cheapest flights we’ve ever seen. If you’ve searched for airfare lately, though, you might be wondering: Where the heck are these fares? That’s not what I’m seeing for the flights I’m searching for. 

In some places, airfare is still high, or even rising. If you want to fly to South Africa, for instance, it might cost you. Gone are the days of the $591 roundtrip fare to Cape Town (CPT), sadly. The same goes for parts of Europe, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand.

But not all hope is lost! This is exactly what we do: We sift through the sky-high airfare to find some hidden gems for our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers.

Let’s look at some of the places you should maybe avoid if you’re looking to book cheap flights in the next couple of weeks. And, of course, we’ll point you toward some places where airfare is still cheap, too.


Where Flights Are Expensive Right Now


It’s a tale of two years in Africa. In 2022, with travel demand still slowly recovering, flights to Africa dropped to unthinkable lows.


Cape Town flight deal


This flight deal from Minneapolis (MSP) and Detroit (DTW) comes to mind. These one-stop itineraries could get you to Cape Town, South Africa (CPT) for just $591.


MSP to CPT fare


If you’re holding your breath for those fares to return, I have some bad news…


CPT flights now


That’s what the same search for airfare yields today. The cheapest flight I could find on the calendar between MSP and CPT is $1,558 roundtrip. Hardly a bargain.

I’ve noticed a similar trend in flights to Nairobi, Kenya (NBO). A year or two ago, you could book a cheap flight to the Masai Mara safari gateway for under $700 in many cases.


Nairobi, Kenya flight deal


But a similar search this week showed that the Chicago (ORD) to NBO fare has essentially doubled.


Nairobi flight deal from Chicago 


With much of Asia closed to travelers for the past several years, travelers had to postpone and re-postpone those bucket list trips. Nobody flying across the Pacific meant flight prices dropped to unthinkable lows.


Cheap flights to Tokyo from the U.S.


Thrifty Traveler Premium members will remember this doozy connecting the Rust Belt (and some of the Pacific Northwest, too) to Tokyo for under $575 roundtrip.

Sadly, that’s not the case anymore.


Tokyo airfare on Google Flights


One of the easiest places to find a cheap flight to Tokyo has almost always been from Los Angeles (LAX), and during the pandemic, we were seeing crazy cheap fares like this.


LAX to Tokyo


Now, fares have doubled, meaning the same flights are closer to $900 than $400.


Los Angeles to Tokyo


Thailand is another sought-after destination in Asia, and this Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) flight deal from 2022 connected thousand of Thrifty Traveler Premium members with Thailand for cheap.


Thailand flight deal


Are you catching on to the trend? The Denver (DEN) to Bangkok (BKK) fare, once $823 roundtrip, now sits at over $1,000 or more.


Thailand airfare 

Australia & New Zealand

If you’ve been searching for cheap flights down under lately, you probably aren’t seeing many rates like these.


Sydney, Australia flight deal


This flight deal is long, long gone. Fares in the $800s to get to Australia are getting harder and harder to find, with four-digit fares becoming more the norm.


SYD flights now


And the same goes for New Zealand. Where we used to find sub-$900 fares like these to New Zealand all the time, they’re becoming rarer.


New Zealand flight deal


Like Australia, now you’re likely to see four-digit fares if you’re searching for flights to New Zealand this year or next.


New Zealand high airfare


While we’re always finding cracks in the flight pricing dam, Europe has been tricky of late. Roundtrip airfare like this is getting harder and harder to dig up.


Europe flights in the $300s


Instead, that $385 roundtrip fare from Miami (MIA) to Athens (ATH) on Delta seems like a figment of our imagination at this point…


MIA ATH airfare


Ouch! Sometimes we can find reprieve on nonstop flights instead of connecting ones. Just a few weeks ago, we managed to find these relatively cheap nonstop flights to Europe.


Cheap flights to Europe


But even the nonstops are rising in price once again, sadly. Here’s what you might see if you looked today.


SFO MUC airfare 

Where to Go Instead

Enough of the doom and gloom! Where is it still cheap to fly?


Flights starting and ending in the United States are as cheap as ever right now. And we’re not talking about a few tricky dates during the shoulder season, either. We’re talking about wide open availability for low fares to places like Denver, Colorado (DEN) in peak summer.


Denver, Colorado 

This deal is gone now – get the next one with Thrifty Traveler Premium!

We also found a rare flight deal to Burlington, Vermont (BTV) just a few weeks ago, including a record-low fare on the new Delta route from Minneapolis (MSP) for under $198 roundtrip.


Burlington, Vermont

Look a little closer to home this year to find where the cheapest flights still exist.

The Caribbean

You can also snag a cheap fare to some of the most sought-after travel spots in the Caribbean.


Cayman Islands flight deal


You’ve heard of the Cayman Islands for sure, and this flight deal would have taken you straight to Grand Cayman (GCM) for less than $399 roundtrip this year or next.

This flight deal to the Dominican Republic had a similar scope.


Dominican Republic flight deal


That’s only about half of the fares we found on that deal, too!

Atlantic Islands

The islands of the Atlantic Ocean are varied. No two are alike. The only thing they have in common is cheap flights.


Iceland flight deal 

Get alerts for cheap flights like these when you sign up for Thrifty Traveler Premium!

Iceland is arguably the most famous Atlantic island, and cheap flights to Reykjavik (KEF) are not hard to find, even in peak summer!

Bermuda and Iceland are a long way apart – physically and culturally – but Bermuda has also been home to some sweet fares like these ones for our members in Canada, New York, and Boston.


Bermuda flight deal


Finally, the Portuguese island of Madeira also deserves your attention if you’re an adventurer. And we found nonstop flights from the U.S. to Madeira (FNC) for just $593 roundtrip.


Madeira Portugal flight deal


Pacific Islands

Flight deals aren’t limited to just islands in the Atlantic Ocean, though; there are cheap flights to be found to destinations in the Pacific too. Check out this flight deal to Tahiti (PPT).


Tahiti airfare


The nonstop Delta flight from Los Angeles (LAX) was put on sale…big time.

Fiji is an equally exotic Pacific destination, and flights to Fiji have been as cheap as ever this year, too.


Fiji flight deal


What’s amazing about both of these deals is that our winter is their summer in Fiji and Tahiti, making the dead of our winter a perfect time for a visit down to either of these islands.

There’s one destination where the weather is always perfect no matter when you visit: Hawaii.


Hawaii flight deal


This flight deal to the Hawaiian Islands could make your beach dreams a reality in 2023 or 2024.


Bottom Line

In some places, airfare is still high, or even rising. But there are great destinations where we’re still seeing low airfare, meaning that trip you’re dying to take is still in the cards for this year or next.