Air Fares

You are here

4th-Quarter 2016 Air Fare Data

Release Number: 
BTS 21-17

The average domestic air fare decreased to $347 in the fourth quarter of 2016, down 6.1 percent from $369 in the fourth quarter of 2015, adjusted for inflation (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.  

4Q Fares (current dollars)4Q Fares (2016 $)
1995288452
1996278424
1997294439
1998316466
1999318456
2000340472
2001300408
2002309412
2003316413
2004297376
2005315384
2006318381
2007330380
2008345392
2009320357
2010335369
2011368393
2012374392
2013382396
2014393402
2015363369
2016347347
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 36 percent of fares calculated for the fourth quarter of 2016. The average unadjusted domestic one-way air fare was $241 in the fourth quarter of 2016, while the average unadjusted round-trip air fare was $422. 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

Fourth-quarter fares were the lowest fourth-quarter fares since BTS began reporting fares in 1995, down 3.0 percent from the previous low of $357 in 2009 (Table 1). They were the lowest for any quarter since $344 in the third quarter of 2009.

The fourth-quarter 2016 fare was down 26.5 percent from the average fare of $472 in 2000, the highest inflation-adjusted fourth quarter average fare recorded in the 21 years since BTS began collecting air fare records in 1995. Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 23.4 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. Third-quarter data are the most recent available (Table 1A).

Quarter-to-Quarter Change

The fourth-quarter 2016 average fare of $347 was down 13.7 percent from the recent peak of $402 in the fourth quarter of 2014 (Table 3).

Annual Fares

The average 2016 inflation-adjusted fare of $349 was down 8.5 percent from $382 in 2015. The 2016 average was the lowest since 2009 and was down 26.1 percent from the all-time annual high of $472 in 2000.  Unadjusted, the 2016 average fare of $349 was up 12.5 percent from the post-recession low of $310 in 2009 but down 10.9 percent from the recent peak of $392 in 2014.  See Annual Fares

Unadjusted Air Fares

The $347 fourth-quarter 2016 average fare was down 12.5 percent from the third quarter 2014 fare of $396, which was the highest unadjusted average fare for any quarter since 1995. Since 1995, unadjusted fares rose 20.5 percent compared to a 57.2 percent increase in overall consumer prices (Table 4).

Fourth-quarter 2016 fares were up slightly, 0.8 percent, from the third-quarter 2016, the first quarter-to-quarter increase since the third-quarter of 2014. From that quarter until the third quarter of 2016, fares declined by 13.2 percent (Table 5). See Air Fares for historical data.

Fares by Airport

Originating Domestic Passengers3Q Fares (current dollars)
2M+344
1.5M-2M344
1M-1.5M329
500K-1M342
100K-500K348
50K-100K400
All Airports347
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey: DB1BTicket

Of airports grouped by the number of originating passengers in the fourth quarter of 2016, the 6 airports with between 50,000 and 99,999 originating passengers had the highest average fares ($400). Airports with 1.0 to 1.49 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. First-quarter 2017 average fare data will be released July 25.

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 0.30. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $346.22 to $347.21. For results based on round-trip fares, the standard error is 0.37.  The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $421.79 to $423.00. For results based on one-way fares, the standard error is 0.37. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $240.27 to $241.47.

YearAverage Fare in constant 2016 dollars ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (4Q to 4Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (4Q 1995 to 4Q of each year) (%)
1995452
1996424-6.3-6.3
19974393.5-3.0
19984666.12.9
1999456-2.00.8
20004723.44.3
2001408-13.4-9.7
20024120.8-9.0
20034130.3-8.7
2004376-8.9-16.8
20053842.1-15.1
2006381-0.8-15.8
2007380-0.3-16.1
20083923.1-13.5
2009357-8.7-21.0
20103693.4-18.4
20113936.5-13.0
2012392-0.3-13.3
20133960.8-12.6
20144021.5-11.2
2015369-8.1-18.4
2016347-6.1-23.4
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
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

(4th Quarter to 4th Quarter for fares)
Since 4th Quarter of ...Duration in YearsAverage Fare in constant 2016 dollars ($)Percent Change in Average Fare to 4th Quarter 2016 (%)
2016347
20151369-6.1
20142402-13.7
20133396-12.4
20124392-11.6
20115393-11.9
20106369-6.1
20097357-3.0
20088392-11.4
20079380-8.7
200610381-9.0
200511384-9.8
200412376-7.9
200313413-16.1
200214412-15.8
200115408-15.1
200016472-26.5
199917456-24.0
199818466-25.5
199719439-21.0
199620424-18.2
199521452-23.4
Notes: 

* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index

Month20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 380,042 381,819 386,528 402,208 417,833 9.93.9
February 380,414 381,985 388,976 403,917 420,824 10.64.2
March 380,540 383,575 390,817 405,983
April 380,487 384,265 393,439 407,763
May 381,372 385,619 395,621 410,338
June 381,672 385,243 396,973 412,333
July 381,299 386,243 396,503 413,746
August 380,486 384,478 397,007 414,242
September 380,165 384,501 397,326 414,558
October 381,178 384,700 399,928 415,979
November 381,224 386,912 401,280 416,046
December 380,809 386,222 401,440 416,337
12 - Month Average 380,807 384,630 395,487 411,121
Jan - Feb Average 380,228 381,902 387,752 403,063 419,329 10.34.0
Notes: 

* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

YearAverage Fare in current dollars ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (4Q to 4Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (4Q 1995 to 4Q of each year) (%)Inflation Rate from 1995 (Dec 1995 to Dec of each year)*
1995288N/AN/AN/A
1996278-3.3-3.33.2
19972945.52.05.1
19983167.79.96.7
19993180.610.59.5
20003407.018.213.3
2001300-11.84.215.4
20023093.07.317.9
20033162.29.720.2
2004297-5.93.324.2
20053155.99.428.8
20063181.110.631.3
20073303.614.636.5
20083454.720.038.7
2009320-7.411.140.7
20103354.716.342.5
201136810.028.047.2
20123741.630.050.0
20133822.132.851.8
20143932.836.453.7
2015363-7.726.054.4
2016347-4.420.557.2
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 (%)
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 2016351-2.9
3Q 2016344-1.9
4Q 20163470.8
Notes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Top 100 Airports* Based on 4Q2016 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers
Airport Groups based on 4Q 2016 Originating PassengersAverage Fare 4th Quarter 2016 ($)Percent of Total Passengers
2 million+34422
1.5-1.99 million34418
1.0-1.49 million32921
500-999,00034223
100-499,00034815
50-99,9994001
Average Fare at All Airports347100
Notes: 

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Updated: Tuesday, April 25, 2017