The average cost of a domestic flight from Northwest Arkansas National Airport was up, but how much passengers spent depended largely on where they flew and which airline they selected.
The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows the average cost of flying roundtrip from XNA during 2022’s third quarter increased $26 to $484, when compared to 2019’s third quarter.
Thousands of passengers found far lower prices on Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines and Breeze Airways. A review of the federal data by Volaire Aviation Consulting showed the average roundtrip fare on those carriers was less than $175 roundtrip.
Even if a buyer takes into account the cost of checked bags and carry-ons (which are near $50 each way on Frontier), the low-cost carriers remain far less expensive than American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. American’s domestic roundtrip averaged $600 during the quarter, which made it pricier than United ($564) and Delta ($568).
Consultants such as Volaire, which compiled the data for XNA, use data from 2019 for comparisons because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic cut travel and depressed airfares so significantly in 2020, 2021 and early 2022 that those times provide little insight into travel pricing and trends.
New York is No. 1
Five destinations averaged at least 100 people a day from XNA in 2022’s third quarter. They were New York (153 trips), Chicago (127), Los Angeles (126), Denver (116) and Orlando/Sanford (100).
Notable by its absence is Dallas/Fort Worth, which fell from XNA’s No. 3 destination to No. 8. Flying to DFW was down 28 people a day compared to three years earlier. Fares to DFW averaged $498 roundtrip; they averaged $452 in 2019. American carries the vast majority of XNA’s Dallas-bound people.
Those DFW flights were less expensive than the average cost of flying to New York ($522) or Los Angeles ($510).
Lower prices were found by those who flew to Chicago ($432), Denver ($306) and Orlando/Sanford ($280). It was possible in the third quarter to find consistently less expensive options to Denver (Frontier averaged $138), Los Angeles (Allegiant, $216) and Orlando/Sanford (Allegiant, $148).
Top International Destination
XNA’s leading international destination was Cancun, and it was more popular than in 2019. That could be connected to a national pattern that had people canceling vacations throughout the worst months of the COVID-19 pandemic. With money saved up from not traveling, many people became more willing to spend big on international trips.
Most of the 20 people a day who traveled to Cancun flew American.
The top 5 international destinations were Cancun, London, San Salvador, Mexico City and Toronto.
Tampa Remains Top 10
Nonstop flights to the Tampa/St. Petersburg metro by Allegiant and Breeze kept it among XNA’s top destinations.
Soon after Breeze started flights to Tampa International Airport in 2021, Allegiant began flying to the nearby St. Pete/Clearwater airport. Allegiant and Breeze go twice a week.
About 80 people a day flew to the Tampa metro in the first and second quarters, falling to 65 in the third quarter. The decrease can be tied to Allegiant’s decision to pause its flying to the Tampa metro for a few weeks last fall. That’s a normal practice by Allegiant as travel to Tampa declines in the weeks after school starts.
The Tampa metro has moved way up the list of XNA’s top destinations thanks to the nonstop options. It’s now No. 10. In 2019, Tampa was the No. 25 destination with about 18 people flying there each day.