Air Fares

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2nd-Quarter 2017 Air Fare Data

Release Number: 
BTS 51-17
Date: 
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Download Excel Tables:

BTS reports average fares baseThe average domestic air fare, adjusted for inflation, decreased to $356 in the second quarter of 2017, down 0.9 percent from $359 in the second quarter of 2016 but up 1.2 percent from $352 in the first quarter of 2017 (Tables 1, 3), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.  

2Q Fares (current dollars)2Q Fares (2017 $)
1995297477
1996276431
1997289442
1998301453
1999329485
2000339483
2001329453
2002318433
2003315419
2004309401
2005307386
2006342413
2007325383
2008347392
2009302345
2010341382
2011370401
2012385410
2013378397
2014396407
2015386397
2016353359
2017356356
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 second quarter of 2017. The average domestic one-way air fare was $253 in the second quarter of 2017, while the average round-trip air fare was $432. 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 2017 dollars are used for inflation adjustment.

Inflation-Adjusted Air Fares

The second quarter fare of $356 was the lowest second-quarter fare since 2009 when the fare was $345. The second-quarter 2017 fare was down 26.6 percent from the average fare of $485 in 1999, the highest inflation-adjusted second quarter average fare on record. Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 25.4 percent (Table 1). 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 75.0 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the second quarter of 2017, down from 87.6 percent in 1995 (Table 2).

Quarter-to-Quarter Change

Average fares rose 1.2 percent from $352 in the first quarter of 2017 to the $356 in the second quarter of 2017, the third consecutive quarterly increase. Prior to that, fares declined for six consecutive quarters after reaching an inflation-adjusted recent high of $397 in the second-quarter of 2015 (Table 3).

Unadjusted Air Fares

The $356 second-quarter 2017 average fare was up 1.0 percent from the second quarter 2016 fare of $353 and up 17.9 percent from the recession low of $302 in the second-quarter of 2009. The second quarter 2017 fare was down 10.0 percent from the fare of $396 in the second quarter of 2014, which was the highest average second quarter fare since 1995. Since 1995, unadjusted fares rose 19.9 percent compared to a 60.8 percent increase in overall consumer prices (Table 4).

Second quarter 2017 fares of $356 were up 1.2 percent, from the first-quarter 2017 fares of $352. Although second quarter 2017 average fares were down 7.8 percent from the second quarter of 2015 ($386), they were up 3.5 percent from the third quarter of 2016 ($344) following three consecutive quarterly increases (Table 5). See Air Fares for historical data.

Fares by Airport

Originating Domestic Passengers2Q Fares (current dollars)
2M+349
1.5M-2M335
1M-1.5M340
500K-1M355
100K-500K382
50K-100K378
Top 100 Airports351
All Airports356
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey: DB1BTicket

Of airports grouped by the number of originating passengers in the second quarter of 2017, the 42 airports with between 100,000 and 499,999 originating passengers had the highest average fares ($382). Airports with 1.5 to 1.99 million originating passengers had the lowest average fares of any group ($335) (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 from each airline, 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. Third Quarter 2017 average fare data will be released Jan. 16.

Note: Results for average fares are based on the BTS Origin & Destination Survey, a 10 percent sample of airline tickets used during the quarter. For results based on all itinerary fares, the standard error is 0.29. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $355.43 to $356.40. For results based on round-trip fares, the standard error is 0.36.  The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $431.66 to $432.84. For results based on one-way fares, the standard error is 0.35. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $252.82 to $253.98.

Year2Q Average Fare in constant 2017 dollars ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (2Q to 2Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (2Q 1995 to 2Q of each year) (%)Percent Change in Average Fare to 2nd Quarter 2017 (%)
1995477-25.4
1996431-9.7-9.7-17.5
19974422.6-7.4-19.5
19984532.3-5.2-21.4
19994857.21.6-26.6
2000483-0.31.3-26.4
2001453-6.3-5.1-21.4
2002433-4.5-9.3-17.7
2003419-3.1-12.2-15.1
2004401-4.4-16.0-11.2
2005386-3.7-19.1-7.8
20064137.1-13.4-13.9
2007383-7.2-19.6-7.2
20083922.2-17.9-9.2
2009345-12.0-27.83.2
201038210.9-19.9-6.9
20114014.9-15.9-11.3
20124102.1-14.2-13.1
2013397-3.1-16.8-10.4
20144072.6-14.7-12.6
2015397-2.4-16.7-10.4
2016359-9.6-24.7-0.9
2017356-0.9-25.40.0
Notes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

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
201674.1
2017 (1Q)73.7
2017 (2Q)75.0
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

Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter
Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fare (2017$)
Average Fare in constant 2017 dollars ($)Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
2Q 2015397-1.7
3Q 2015382-3.9
4Q 2015374-2.0
1Q 2016372-0.4
2Q 2016357-4.0
3Q 2016*344-3.7
4Q 2016*3470.8
1Q 2017*3521.5
2Q 2017*3561.2
Notes: 
Percent change based on unrounded numbers
* Fares for the most recent four quarters are in current dollars, not adjusted for inflation.
YearAverage Fare in current dollars ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (2Q to 2Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (2Q 1995 to 2Q of each year) (%)Inflation Rate from 1995 (Jun 1995 to Jun of each year)*
1995297N/AN/AN/A
1996276-7.1-7.12.8
19972895.0-2.55.3
19983014.01.46.9
19993299.411.09.2
20003393.014.312.8
2001329-3.110.716.6
2002318-3.37.118.2
2003315-1.16.020.7
2004309-1.64.324.1
2005307-0.93.327.8
200634211.415.132.9
2007325-4.79.636.4
20083476.616.942.4
2009302-13.01.740.8
201034112.914.843.3
20113708.524.648.2
20123854.129.651.0
2013378-1.727.453.1
20143964.733.356.2
2015386-2.530.056.2
2016353-8.718.857.8
20173561.019.960.8
Notes: 
Percent change based on unrounded numbers
* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics General Consumer Price Index
Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter
Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fare (current$)
Average Fare in current dollars ($)Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
2Q 2015386-0.6
3Q 2015372-3.7
4Q 2015363-2.5
1Q 2016361-0.4
2Q 2016351-2.9
3Q 2016344-1.9
4Q 20163470.8
1Q 20173521.5
2Q 20173561.2
Notes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2Q2017 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers
Airport Groups based on 2Q 2017 Originating PassengersAverage Fare 2nd Quarter 2017 ($)Percent of Total Passengers
2 million+34923
1.5-1.99 million33516
1.0-1.49 million34018
500-999,00035522
100-499,00038212
50-99,9993781
Average Fare at Top 100 Airports35191
Average Fare at All Airports356100
Notes: 

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico