Air Fares

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1st-Quarter 2017 Air Fare Data

Release Number: 
BTS 36-17

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The average domestic air fare decreased to $352 in the first quarter of 2017, down 5.0 percent from $370 in the first quarter of 2016, adjusted for inflation but up 1.5 percent from $347 in the fourth quarter of 2016 (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.  

Figure 1. U.S. Average Domestic Fares,1st Quarter 1995-2017
1Q Fares (current dollars)1Q Fares (2017 $)
1995297479
1996284446
1997283432
1998305458
1999332491
2000340487
2001348482
2002320438
2003319425
2004320418
2005301382
2006323396
2007318380
2008333383
2009314360
2010328368
2011356391
2012373398
2013378397
2014382396
2015388402
2016361370
2017352352
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 34 percent of fares calculated for the first quarter of 2017. The average domestic one-way air fare was $256 in the first quarter of 2017, while the average round-trip air fare was $417. 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 first quarter fare of $352 was the lowest first-quarter fare in the 22 years since BTS began collecting air fare records in 1995. The previous low was $370 in the first quarter of 2016. The first-quarter 2017 fare was down 28.3 percent from the average fare of $491 in 1999, the highest inflation-adjusted first quarter average fare on record. Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 26.5 percent (Table 1). See 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 73.7 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the first quarter of 2017, down from 87.6 percent in 1995 (Table 2).

Quarter-to-Quarter Change

Average fares rose 1.5 percent from $347 in the fourth quarter of 2016 to the $352 in the first quarter of 2017, the second consecutive quarterly increase. Prior to that, fares declined for six consecutive quarters after reaching an inflation-adjusted recent high of $402 in the first-quarter of 2015 (Table 3).

Unadjusted Air Fares

The $352 first-quarter 2017 average fare was down 2.6 percent from the first quarter 2016 fare of $361 dropping to the lowest first-quarter fare since $328 in 2010. The first quarter 2017 fare was down 12.5 percent from the fare of $396 in the , which was the highest average fare for any quarter since 1995. Since 1995, unadjusted fares rose 18.5 percent compared to a 61.3 percent increase in overall consumer prices (Table 4).

First quarter 2017 fares of $352 were up 1.5 percent, from the fourth-quarter 2016 fares of $347. The first quarter 2017 average fare was down 2.6 percent from the first quarter of 2016 ($361) and down 9.4 percent from the first quarter of 2015 ($388). See for historical data.

Fares by Airport

Figure 2. Fares by Airport Group based on Number of Originating Domestic Passengers 1Q 2017
Originating Domestic Passengers1Q Fares (current dollars)
2M+338
1.5M-2M358
1M-1.5M314
500K-1M351
100K-500K381
50K-100K386
All Airports352
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey: DB1BTicket

Of airports grouped by the number of originating passengers in the first quarter of 2017, the 13 airports with between 50,000 and 99,999 originating passengers had the highest average fares ($386). Airports with 1.0 to 1.49 million originating passengers had the lowest average fares of any group ($314) (Table 6).

Tables listing the airports by group can be found on the .

For additional data, see or . Since average fares are based on the 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. Second Quarter 2017 average fare data will be released Oct. 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 0.31 at the 90 percent confidence level range from $351.33 to $352.36. For results based on round-trip fares, the standard error is 0.40 at the 90 percent confidence level range from $416.43 to $417.76. For results based on one-way fares, standard error is 0.39 at the 90 percent confidence level range from $255.75 to $257.04.

Year1Q Average Fare in constant 2017 dollars ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (1Q to 1Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (1Q 1995 to 1Q of each year) (%)Percent Change in Average Fare to 1st Quarter 2017 (%)
1995479-26.5
1996446-6.9-6.9-21.1
1997432-3.1-9.7-18.6
19984586.0-4.4-23.2
19994917.12.4-28.3
2000487-0.71.7-27.8
2001482-1.20.6-27.0
2002438-9.1-8.6-19.6
2003425-3.0-11.4-17.1
2004418-1.4-12.6-15.9
2005382-8.7-20.2-7.9
20063963.5-17.4-11.1
2007380-4.0-20.7-7.3
20083830.7-20.1-8.0
2009360-5.8-24.8-2.3
20103682.1-23.2-4.4
20113916.1-18.5-9.9
20123981.9-16.9-11.6
2013397-0.3-17.1-11.4
2014396-0.3-17.4-11.1
20154021.7-16.0-12.6
2016370-8.0-22.7-5.0
2017352-5.0-26.5N/A
Notes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and

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
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 (%)
1Q 2015402-0.6
2Q 2015395-1.8
3Q 2015380-3.9
4Q 2015372-2.0
1Q 2016370-0.4
2Q 2016*351-5.3
3Q 2016*344-1.9
4Q 2016*3470.8
1Q 2017*3521.5
Notes: 
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, and

YearAverage Fare in current dollars ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (1Q to 1Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (1Q 1995 to 1Q of each year) (%)Inflation Rate from 1995 (Mar 1995 to Mar of each year)*
1995297N/AN/AN/A
1996284-4.4-4.42.7
1997283-0.2-4.55.8
19983057.52.67.3
19993328.911.79.1
20003402.614.612.6
20013482.217.116.5
2002320-8.07.817.9
2003319-0.37.521.3
20043200.37.923.5
2005301-5.91.527.2
20063237.38.931.9
2007318-1.77.135.1
20083334.912.340.6
2009314-5.85.740.5
20103284.610.543.8
20113568.419.846.9
20123734.825.651.1
20133781.427.353.6
20143821.128.755.8
20153881.630.855.7
2016361-7.021.757.3
2017352-2.618.561.3
Notes: 
Percent change based on unrounded numbers
* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics General Consumer Price Index
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and

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 (%)
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
1Q 20173521.5
Notes: 

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and

Top 100 Airports* Based on 1Q2017 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers
Airport Groups based on 1Q 2017 Originating PassengersAverage Fare 1st Quarter 2017 ($)Percent of Total Passengers
2 million+33814
1.5-1.99 million35822
1.0-1.49 million31415
500-999,00035124
100-499,00038114
50-99,9993862
Average Fare at Top 100 Airports35091
Average Fare at All Airports352100
Notes: 

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and

Updated: Tuesday, July 25, 2017
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