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Friday, September 22, 2023

Round-trip airfare from LA to Korea skyrockets to $3,000

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[Naki Park, The Korea Daily]
Prices for Korean airline tickets to South Korea are skyrocketing with the summer season just around the corner.

A round-trip economy class flight to South Korea from Los Angeles during June through July can cost more than $3,000. It’s even worse when traveling from the East, with the cheapest nonstop round-trip economy tickets from Atlanta costing more than $3,800.

Korean Air and Asiana Airlines prices quoted by Korean travel agencies show that between June and July, economy class seats range from $2,800 to $3,200 depending on the day of the week, while business class seats range from $6,000 to nearly $10,000.

In the case of Air Premia, which is known to be cheaper than traditional South Korean airlines, a round-trip flight from June 12 to July 5 for an economy seat costs $2,401 and a premium economy seat costs $3,306, according to an online booking site.

However, the price varies greatly depending on the dates, with prices ranging from $1,911 to $3,011 for economy class and $2,271 to $3,601 for premium economy class during June through July.

The spike in ticket prices is reportedly due to the surge in Koreans in the U.S. visiting their homeland following the end of the pandemic.

“The ticket prices are crazy,” said Young-im Shin, vice president of Samho Tours. “But despite the high prices, there are still a lot of travelers visiting their home countries in June,” said Shin.

The problem is that despite the skyrocketing ticket prices, seats are not easy to come by. “Even during peak travel season in June, you can actually find relatively affordable tickets ranging from $2,100 to $2,600 for economy class and $2,600 to $4,800 for business class if you’re traveling on weekdays,” said Grace Lee, team leader of Four Seasons Tour & Travel. “However, there often aren’t any seats left on the plane, so it’s difficult to actually book a flight.”

“The best way to save money is to book as early as possible, as the prices of airline tickets and hotels increase as booking rates increase. Booking three months in advance for South Korea-bound tickets was enough before the pandemic, but now it’s better to book about six months in advance to get the best deal,” said an airline worker.

“I planned to visit South Korea next month and bought my round-trip ticket on Air Premia last October for $1,125. By booking early, I saved more than 50% of what I would’ve had to pay if I was to book a ticket now,” said Michael Lee, an office worker in L.A.

This increase in demand for airline tickets from Los Angeles has prompted airlines to increase their number of flights.

Air France, which flies five times a week, will increase their flights to six times a week by adding Tuesday flights starting June 23, while Korean Air will add weekly Wednesday flights from June 7 to October 4. Asiana Airlines has also increased their A380 flights from L.A. from three days a week to seven days a week since March.

Meanwhile, international flights from the U.S. this summer are expected to be the most expensive since 2019.

Travel booking app Hopper expects the average ticket price for Asia-bound flights to increase 60.1% from $1,221 in 2019 to $1,800 this year, and 27.8% for Europe-bound tickets from $861 to $1,100. Domestic tickets, on the other hand, are expected to drop 18.6%, from an average of $376 last year to $306 this year.

Factors contributing to the price hikes include jet fuel prices, which have surged more than 500% since May 2020, a lack of available seats to meet the increased demand, and a surge in US residents traveling abroad for their first summer after the pandemic.

BY NAKI PARK [support@koreadaily.com]