U.S. Air Fare Data

3rd-Quarter 2017 U.S. Air Fare Data

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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.

Figure 1. U.S. Average Domestic Fares, 3rd Quarter 1995-2017Graph - Figure 1. U.S. Average Domestic Fares, 3rd Quarter 1995-2017Source: 

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

Figure 2. Fares by Airport Group based on Number of Originating Domestic Passengers 3Q 2017Graph - Fares by Airport Group based on Number of Originating Domestic Passengers 3Q 2017Source: 

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).

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.

 

Table 1. 3rd Quarter Average Fare 1995-2017, Adjusted for Inflation

     
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 (%)
1995 470     -28.5
1996 432 -8.0 -8.0 -22.2
1997 439 1.6 -6.6 -23.5
1998 465 6.0 -1.0 -27.8
1999 476 2.3 1.3 -29.4
2000 481 1.1 2.5 -30.2
2001 443 -7.9 -5.6 -24.2
2002 425 -4.1 -9.5 -21.0
2003 420 -1.2 -10.6 -20.0
2004 396 -5.7 -15.7 -15.1
2005 384 -3.1 -18.3 -12.4
2006 397 3.5 -15.5 -15.4
2007 384 -3.3 -18.3 -12.5
2008 388 1.1 -17.4 -13.5
2009 353 -8.9 -24.7 -5.0
2010 378 7.0 -19.4 -11.2
2011 395 4.3 -15.9 -14.9
2012 400 1.3 -14.9 -16.0
2013 401 0.4 -14.5 -16.3
2014 404 0.7 -13.9 -16.9
2015 389 -3.9 -17.2 -13.6
2016 356 -8.4 -24.2 -5.7
2017 336 -5.7 -28.5 0.0

Export Table DataNotes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, https://www.bts.gov/explore-topics-and-geography/topics/air-fares; and http://www.transtats.bts.gov/databases.asp?Mode_ID=1&Mode_Desc=Aviation&...

Table 2. Passenger Airline Revenue from Fares 1990-2017, 3Q 2017 

  
YearRevenue from Passenger Fares as Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline Operating Revenue* (%)
1990 88.5
1995 87.6
2000 88.9
2001 87.8
2002 87.1
2003 84.9
2004 80.6
2005 78.4
2006 77.6
2007 77.7
2008 75.9
2009 73.7
2010 74.8
2011 74.6
2012 74.1
2013 74.6
2014 74.8
2015 74.7
2016 74.1
2017 (1Q) 74.0
2017 (2Q) 75.0
2017 (3Q) 75.0

Export Table DataNotes: 

* 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 3. Inflation-Adjusted Average Domestic Airline Fares by Quarter, 3Q 2017 

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 2015 383 -3.9
4Q 2015 376 -2.0
1Q 2016 374 -0.4
2Q 2016 359 -4.0
3Q 2016 344 -4.1
4Q 2016* 347 0.8
1Q 2017* 352 1.5
2Q 2017* 356 1.2
3Q 2017* 336 -5.6

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

 

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, https://www.bts.gov/explore-topics-and-geography/topics/air-fares; and http://www.transtats.bts.gov/databases.asp?Mode_ID=1&Mode_Desc=Aviation&...

Table 4. Unadjusted 3rd Quarter Average Fares, 1995-2017, 3Q 2017

     
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)*
         
1995 292 N/A N/A N/A
1996 277 -5.3 -5.3 2.9
1997 287 3.8 -1.7 5.2
1998 309 7.6 5.8 6.9
1999 324 4.7 10.8 9.4
2000 339 4.7 16.0 13.2
2001 321 -5.4 9.7 16.3
2002 312 -2.6 6.9 18.1
2003 315 1.0 7.9 20.7
2004 305 -3.2 4.5 24.0
2005 307 0.6 5.2 28.8
2006 329 6.9 12.4 33.1
2007 325 -1.0 11.3 36.2
2008 346 6.5 18.5 43.4
2009 310 -10.4 6.2 41.1
2010 336 8.3 15.0 42.8
2011 364 8.3 24.5 48.1
2012 375 3.0 28.3 50.7
2013 382 1.9 30.7 53.0
2014 392 2.5 34.1 55.7
2015 377 -3.8 29.0 55.9
2016 349 -7.4 19.5 57.6
2017 336 -3.8 14.9 60.7

Export Table DataNotes: Percent change based on unrounded numbers* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics General Consumer Price IndexSource: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, https://www.bts.gov/explore-topics-and-geography/topics/air-fares; and http://www.transtats.bts.gov/databases.asp?Mode_ID=1&Mode_Desc=Aviation&...

Table 5. Unadjusted Average Domestic Airline Fares by Quarter, 3Q 2017

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 2015 372 -3.7
4Q 2015 363 -2.5
1Q 2016 361 -0.4
2Q 2016 351 -2.9
3Q 2016 344 -1.9
4Q 2016 347 0.8
1Q 2017 352 1.5
2Q 2017 356 1.2
3Q 2017 336 -5.6

Export Table DataNotes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, https://www.bts.gov/explore-topics-and-geography/topics/air-fares; and http://www.transtats.bts.gov/databases.asp?Mode_ID=1&Mode_Desc=Aviation&...

Table 6. Fares at Airports Grouped by Originating Passengers, 3Q 2017 

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+ 327 25.8
1.5-1.99 million 309 13.5
1.0-1.49 million 329 15.1
500-999,000 329 22.9
100-499,000 360 12.8
50-99,999 367 0.8
Average Fare at Top 100 Airports 330 91.0
Average Fare at All Airports 336 100

Export Table DataNotes: 

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

 



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