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For Those of You Not Sure Airfares were Cheap in the Past Year

January 28, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News,DOT,Pricing Activity

todays airfare cheap

With all this talk about rising bag fees and “peak travel day” surcharges, sometimes we lose sight of the obvious:

Airfares, on average, have been cheap.

And as proof, here are the latest figures from the Transportation Dept.’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS):

Average domestic airfares in the third quarter of 2009 fell more than 14% compared to the third quarter of 2008. That is the biggest year-to-year decline on record.

The news gets even better: the average third quarter airfare going all the way back to 1995 was $288 – while in 2009, that airfare was $306. So the average airfare got higher, right? Wrong. Let’s adjust for inflation – let’s convert that 2009 fare into “1995 dollars”: now the $306 price is equivalent to $217.

So in a 14 year period, the average airfare (at least in third quarter periods) has dropped almost 25%. Amazing.

Final note: I do realize that the third quarter results of last year represented the “bottom” of the prices and the direction has been on the northerly side since, but – have you checked out our Deals Blog lately – or signed up for FareCompare’s real-time alerts? You’ll see good deals…

4 Responses to “For Those of You Not Sure Airfares were Cheap in the Past Year”

  1. rainy says:

    BUT, to be fair, you must incl ALL the fees & extra charges in the current price to properly compare. Those fees should include anything that we got for FREE before, ie fees for booking, checkin, preselected seats, checked bags (for 2 bags), snacks, meals or soft drinks, ear phones etc…… I am sure there are more……

  2. Rick Seaney says:


    That is one way to look at it, but on the other hand, we don’t need those things to get from Point A to Point B. I agree, flying is a much more austere experience than it used to be; I doubt we’ll ever go back to the “good old days”.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. d j says:

    I agree with the writer.You have to include all the fees to get the fare.If you don’t you are just fooling yourself.

  4. Rick Seaney says:

    DJ, Rainy,

    I do want to be clear that when you are purchasing your ticket, yes, absolutely factor in all the costs; we urge our customers to compare prices and fees. Southwest is more visible than ever thanks to their campaign to let people know “bags fly free” with them, and let’s not forget that JetBlue also gives you a free bag.

    I just wanted to point out that base fares are relatively cheap these days. If you want to or need to add extra costs on, you can still save by shopping carefully.

    Appreciate your comments.

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