Air Fares

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3rd-Quarter 2017 Air Fare Data

Release Number: 
BTS 05-18

The average domestic air fare decreased to $336 in the third quarter of 2017, the lowest inflation-adjusted quarterly fare in 23 years of air fare records (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. The previous low quarter since BTS began collecting air fare data in 1995 was $346 in the second quarter of 2009.

3Q Fares (current dollars)3Q Fares (2017 $)
1995292470
1996277432
1997287439
1998309465
1999324476
2000339481
2001321443
2002312425
2003315420
2004305396
2005307384
2006329397
2007325384
2008346388
2009310353
2010336378
2011364395
2012375400
2013382401
2014392404
2015377389
2016349356
2017336336
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 39 percent of fares calculated for the third quarter of 2017. The average domestic one-way air fare was $241 in the third quarter of 2017, while the average round-trip air fare was $409. 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 third-quarter fare of $336 was down 5.7 percent from the third quarter of 2016, adjusted for inflation and down 5.6 percent from the second quarter of 2017. The third-quarter 2017 fare was down 30.2 percent from the average fare of $481 in 2000, the highest inflation-adjusted third quarter average fare on record. Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 28.5 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 third quarter of 2017, down from 87.6 percent in 1995 (Figure 1, Table 2).

Quarter-to-Quarter Change

Average fares fell 5.6 percent from $356 in the second quarter of 2017 to $336 in the third quarter of 2017, the first quarter-to-quarter decrease since the third quarter of 2016.  After the third quarter of 2016, fares rose for three consecutive quarters – a total of 3.5 percent – before declining in the third quarter of 2017 (Table 3).

Unadjusted Air Fares

The $336 third-quarter 2017 average fare was down 3.8 percent from the third quarter 2016 fare of $349, dropping to the lowest third-quarter fare since $336 in 2010. The third quarter 2017 fare was down 14.3 percent from the fare of $392 in the third quarter of 2014, which was the highest average fare for any third quarter since 1995. Since 1995, unadjusted fares rose 14.9 percent compared to a 60.7 percent increase in overall consumer prices (Table 4).

Third quarter 2017 fares of $336 were down 5.6 percent, from the second-quarter 2017 fares of $356, the first quarter-to-quarter decrease since the third quarter of 2016 (Table 3). The third quarter 2017 average fare was down 2.4 percent from the third quarter of 2016 ($344). Over two years, the third quarter 2017 fare was down 9.7 percent from the third quarter of 2015 ($372) (Table 5). See Air Fares for historical data.

Fares by Airport

Originating Domestic Passengers3Q Fares (current dollars)
2M+327
1.5M-2M309
1M-1.5M329
500K-1M329
100K-500K360
50K-100K367
Top 100 Airports330
All Airports336
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey: DB1BTicket

Of airports grouped by the number of originating passengers in the third quarter of 2017, the seven airports with between 50,000 and 99,999 originating passengers had the highest average fares ($367). The six airports with 1.5 to 1.99 million originating passengers had the lowest average fares of any group ($309) (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 2017 average fare data will be released April 17.

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 $335.35 to $336.30. For results based on round-trip fares, the standard error is 0.36. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $409.08 to $410.25. For results based on one-way fares, the standard error is 0.34. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $240.91 to $242.04.

Year3Q Average Fare in constant 2017 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) (%)Percent Change in Average Fare to 3rd Quarter 2017 (%)
1995470-28.5
1996432-8.0-8.0-22.2
19974391.6-6.6-23.5
19984656.0-1.0-27.8
19994762.31.3-29.4
20004811.12.5-30.2
2001443-7.9-5.6-24.2
2002425-4.1-9.5-21.0
2003420-1.2-10.6-20.0
2004396-5.7-15.7-15.1
2005384-3.1-18.3-12.4
20063973.5-15.5-15.4
2007384-3.3-18.3-12.5
20083881.1-17.4-13.5
2009353-8.9-24.7-5.0
20103787.0-19.4-11.2
20113954.3-15.9-14.9
20124001.3-14.9-16.0
20134010.4-14.5-16.3
20144040.7-13.9-16.9
2015389-3.9-17.2-13.6
2016356-8.4-24.2-5.7
2017336-5.7-28.50.0
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)74.0
2017 (2Q)75.0
2017 (3Q)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 (%)
3Q 2015383-3.9
4Q 2015376-2.0
1Q 2016374-0.4
2Q 2016359-4.0
3Q 2016344-4.1
4Q 2016*3470.8
1Q 2017*3521.5
2Q 2017*3561.2
3Q 2017*336-5.6
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 ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q to 3Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q 1995 to 3Q of each year) (%)Inflation Rate from 1995 (Sep 1995 to Sep of each year)*
1995292N/AN/AN/A
1996277-5.3-5.32.9
19972873.8-1.75.2
19983097.65.86.9
19993244.710.89.4
20003394.716.013.2
2001321-5.49.716.3
2002312-2.66.918.1
20033151.07.920.7
2004305-3.24.524.0
20053070.65.228.8
20063296.912.433.1
2007325-1.011.336.2
20083466.518.543.4
2009310-10.46.241.1
20103368.315.042.8
20113648.324.548.1
20123753.028.350.7
20133821.930.753.0
20143922.534.155.7
2015377-3.829.055.9
2016349-7.419.557.6
2017336-3.814.960.7
Notes: 
Percent change based on unrounded numbers
* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics General Consumer Price Index
Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter
Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fare (current$)
Average Fare in current dollars ($)Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
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
3Q 2017336-5.6
Notes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Top 100 Airports* Based on 3Q2017 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers
Airport Groups based on 3Q 2017 Originating PassengersAverage Fare 3rd Quarter 2017 ($)Percent of Total Passengers
2 million+32725.8
1.5-1.99 million30913.5
1.0-1.49 million32915.1
500-999,00032922.9
100-499,00036012.8
50-99,9993670.8
Average Fare at Top 100 Airports33091.0
Average Fare at All Airports336100
Notes: 

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2018