Air Fares

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3rd-Quarter 2016 Air Fare Data

Release Number: 
BTS 04-17

Access the full EXCEL spreadsheet, BTS-04-17.xlsx.

The average domestic air fare decreased to $344 in the third quarter of 2016, down 8.8 percent from $377 in the third quarter of 2015, adjusted for inflation (Table 1) the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.

Year3Q Fares (current dollars)3Q Fares (2016 $)
1995288453
1996269412
1997282423
1998315465
1999317456
2000337468
2001303410
2002303405
2003312407
2004297377
2005306372
2006330393
2007328379
2008359396
2009307343
2010340375
2011361384
2012367383
2013390402
2014396402
2015372377
2016344344
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey: DB1BTicket

BTS reports average fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares, unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. One-way trips accounted for 38 percent of fares calculated for the third quarter of 2016. The average domestic one-way air fare was $242 in the third quarter of 2016, while the average round-trip air fare was $424. Fares are based on the total ticket value, which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include fees for optional services, such as baggage fees. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares.”  Constant 2016 dollars are used for inflation adjustment.

Inflation-Adjusted Air Fares

Third-quarter fares rose 17.2 percent from the recession-affected low of $343 in 2009 to the third quarter of 2014. In the two-year period from the third quarter of 2014, fares fell 14.4 percent to the third quarter of 2016 (Table 1).

The third-quarter 2016 fare was down 26.5 percent from the average fare of $468 in 2000, the highest inflation-adjusted third quarter average fare in the 21 years since BTS began collecting air fare records in 1995. Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 24.1 percent (Table 2). See BTS Air Fare web page for historic data.

In recent years, airlines have obtained additional revenue from fees charged to passengers, as well as from other sources. U.S. passenger airlines collected 74.7 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the third quarter of 2016, down from 87.6 percent in 1995 (Table 1A).

Quarter-to-Quarter Change

Average fares have declined for seven consecutive quarters after reaching an inflation-adjusted recent high of $404 in the fourth-quarter of 2014 (Table 3).

Unadjusted Air Fares

The $344 third-quarter 2016 average fare was down 13.2 from the third quarter 2014 fare of $396, which was the highest average fare for any quarter since 1995. Since 1995, unadjusted fares rose 19.6 percent compared to a 57.6 percent increase in overall consumer prices (Table 4).

Third-quarter 2016 fares were down 2.4 percent from the second quarter of 2016, dropping to the lowest unadjusted level since the fourth quarter of 2010 when the average fare was $335 (Table 5). See Air Fares for historical data.

Originating Domestic Passengers3Q Fares (current dollars)
2M+337
1.5M-2M329
1M-1.5M329
500K-1M351
100K-500K356
All Airports344
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey: DB1BTicket

Of airports grouped by the number of originating passengers in the third quarter of 2016, the 53 airports with between 100,000 and 499,999 originating passengers had the highest average fares ($356). Airports with 1.5 to 1.99 million originating passengers had the lowest average fares of any group ($329) (Table 6).

Tables listing the airports by group can be found on the BTS Air Fare web page.

For additional data, see Top 100 Airports or All Airports. Since average fares are based on the Origin and Destination Survey 10 percent ticket sample, averages for airports with smaller samples may be less reliable. Fares for Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico airports are not included in rankings but are available on the web page. Fourth-quarter 2016 average fare data will be released April 25.

Table 1
YearAverage Fare in constant 2016 dollars ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q to 3Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q 1995 to 3Q of each year) (%)
1995453
1996412-9.0-9.0
19974232.5-6.7
199846510.02.7
1999456-2.00.7
20004682.63.3
2001410-12.3-9.4
2002405-1.4-10.7
20034070.7-10.1
2004377-7.4-16.8
2005372-1.5-18.0
20063935.7-13.3
2007379-3.4-16.3
20083964.4-12.6
2009343-13.4-24.3
20103759.4-17.1
20113842.2-15.3
2012383-0.3-15.5
20134025.0-11.2
20144020.0-11.3
2015377-6.2-16.8
2016344-8.8-24.1
Notes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers.

Table 1A
YearRevenue from Passenger Fares as Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline Operating Revenue* (%)
199088.5
199587.6
200088.9
200187.8
200287.1
200384.9
200480.6
200578.4
200677.6
200777.7
200875.9
200973.7
201074.8
201174.6
201274.1
201374.6
201474.8
201574.7
2016 (1Q)73.7
2016 (2Q)74.3
2016 (3Q)74.7
Notes: 

* From Schedule P-1.2: Passenger Revenue (Fares) (Acct 3901) as a percentage of Total Operating Revenues (4999).

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-1.2

Table 2
(3rd Quarter to 3rd Quarter for fares)
Since 3rd Quarter of ...Duration in YearsAverage Fare in constant 2016 dollars ($)Percent Change in Average Fare to 3rd Quarter 2016 (%)
2016344
20151377-8.8
20142402-14.4
20133402-14.5
20124383-10.2
20115384-10.4
20106375-8.4
200973430.2
20088396-13.2
20079379-9.3
200610393-12.4
200511372-7.4
200412377-8.8
200313407-15.5
200214405-15.0
200115410-16.2
200016468-26.5
199917456-24.6
199818465-26.1
199719423-18.6
199620412-16.6
199521453-24.1
Description: 

Fares are based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include other fees paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares”.

Table 3
Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter
Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fare in constant 2016$Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
2Q 20144012.6
3Q 20144020.3
4Q 20144040.4
1Q 2015397-1.7
2Q 2015390-1.7
3Q 2015*377-3.5
4Q 2015*363-4.0
1Q 2016*361-0.4
2Q 2016*351-3.0
3Q 2016*344-1.9
Notes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers.
* Fares for the most recent four quarters are in current dollars, not adjusted for inflation.

Description: 

BTS reports average fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares, unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value, which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include fees for optional services, such as baggage fees. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares.”  

Table 4
YearAverage Fare in current dollars ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q to 3Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q 1995 to 3Q of each year) (%)Inflation Rate Change to Sept 2016
1995288N/AN/A57.6
1996269-6.3-6.353.0
19972824.7-1.849.8
199831511.79.647.6
19993170.610.343.8
20003376.117.139.0
2001303-10.05.435.4
20023030.15.533.4
20033123.08.730.4
2004297-5.13.127.1
20053063.26.421.4
20063307.914.819.0
2007328-0.813.915.8
20083599.624.811.8
2009307-14.56.810.5
201034010.718.210.4
20113616.225.56.4
20123671.727.64.3
20133906.335.73.1
20143961.637.91.5
2015372-6.229.31.4
2016344-7.519.6N/A
Notes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers.

Description: 

BTS reports average fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares, unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value, which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include fees for optional services, such as baggage fees. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares.”  

Table 5
Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter
Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fare in current dollars ($)Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
3Q 20143960.2
4Q 2014393-0.9
1Q 2015388-1.1
2Q 2015386-0.6
3Q 2015372-3.7
4Q 2015363-2.5
1Q 2016361-0.4
2Q 2016353-2.4
3Q 2016344-2.4
Notes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Description: 

BTS reports average fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares, unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value, which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include fees for optional services, such as baggage fees. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares.”  

Table 6
Top 100 Airports* Based on 3Q2016 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers
Airport Groups based on number of 3Q 2016 Originating PassengersAverage Fare 3rd Quarter 2016 ($)Percent of Total Passengers
2 million+33728
1.5-1.99 million32917
1.0-1.49 million32919
500-999,00035121
100-499,00035615
Average Fare at All Airports344100
Notes: 

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Description: 

BTS reports average fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares, unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value, which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include fees for optional services, such as baggage fees. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares.”  

Updated: Friday, March 31, 2017