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4th-Quarter 2012 Domestic Air Fare Almost Unchanged from 4th Quarter 2011 (Adjusted for Inflation)

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Top 100 Airports: Highest Fares at Huntsville, Lowest Fares at Atlantic City

Domestic Air Fares

4th Quarter Average Domestic Fares 1995-2012

The average domestic air fare declined to $374 in the fourth quarter of 2012, down 0.2 percent from the average fare of $375 in the fourth quarter of 2011, measured in 2012 dollars (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.  Huntsville, Ala., had the highest average fare, $544, while Atlantic City, N.J., had the lowest, $157 (Table 6).

The fourth-quarter 2012 fare in 2012 dollars was down 16.7 percent from the average fare of $449 in 2000, the highest of any fourth quarter adjusted for inflation (Table 2).  

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, 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. 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 other fees, such as baggage fees, paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares” or abnormally high reported fares.

Passenger airlines collected 70.7 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the first nine months of 2012, down from 1990 when 87.6 percent of airline revenue was received from fares (Table 1A).

From 2000 to 2012, inflation-adjusted fares declined 16.7 percent while there was an overall increase in consumer prices of 32.0 percent. In the 17 years from 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 13.1 percent compared to a 49.6 percent increase in consumer prices (Table 2). See for historic data.

Quarter-to-Quarter Change
Inflation-adjusted fourth-quarter fares rose 2.6 percent from the third quarter of 2012 (Table 3). Quarter-to-quarter changes may be affected by seasonal factors.

Air Fares in Unadjusted Dollars
Not adjusted for inflation, the $374 fourth-quarter 2012 average fare was the highest average fare for any fourth quarter since BTS began collecting air fare records in 1995. The previous fourth-quarter high was $368 in 2011 (Table 4).

Unadjusted fourth-quarter 2012 fares were up 1.9 percent from the third quarter of 2012 (Table 5). Quarter-to-quarter changes may be affected by seasonal factors such as the number of passengers. See for additional unadjusted fare data by airport.

Fares by Airport
See Tables 6-8 for data about the based on 2011 originating passengers. All figures in 2012 dollars.

Table 6: Five highest and five lowest average fares in the fourth quarter: Huntsville had the highest average fare ($544) while Atlantic City had the lowest ($157). For the Top 100 Airports, see on the BTS website.

Table 7: Five largest increases and five largest decreases in 2012 dollars from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012: Newport News/Williamsburg, Va., had the largest increase (29.2 percent) and Colorado Springs, CO, had the largest decrease (22.1 percent). For the Top 100 Airports, see on the BTS website.

Table 8: Five largest increases and five largest decreases in 2012 dollars from the fourth quarter of 2000 to the fourth quarter of 2012: Newport News/Williamsburg had the largest increase (23.1 percent) and Atlantic City had the largest decrease (47.5 percent). For the Top 100 Airports, see on the BTS website.

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. First-quarter 2013 average fare data will be released on July 24.

Table 1. 4th Quarter Average Fare 1995-2012, Adjusted for Inflation

Fares are 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. 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 other fees paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

 Average Fare in 2012 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) (%)
1995430--
1996403-6.4-6.4
19974183.7-2.9
19984436.02.9
1999434-2.10.8
20004493.54.3
2001390-13.2-9.5
20023920.6-8.9
20033930.4-8.6
2004359-8.8-16.7
20053672.4-14.7
2006362-1.4-15.9
2007360-0.4-16.3
20083774.6-12.4
2009340-9.9-21.0
20103513.1-18.5
20113756.9-12.9
2012374-0.2-13.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 1A. Passenger Airline Revenue from Fares 1990-2012

YearRevenue from Passenger Fares as Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline Revenue* (%)
199087.6
199585.6
200084.1
200182.7
200282.3
200379.5
200476.6
200575.0
200674.4
200774.3
200872.9
200970.2
201071.3
201171.0
2012 (1Q)70.0
2012 (2Q)70.8
2012 (3Q)71.2
2012 (thru 3Q)70.7

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-12

* Scheduled passenger airline total revenue is the sum of the following Schedule P12 accounts with account numbers: Reservation cancellation fees (3919.1), Baggage fees (3906.2), Miscellaneous Operating Revenue (3919.2), Transport-Related Revenue (4898) and Passenger Revenue (Fares) (3901).

Table 2. Percent Changes to 2012 in Average Domestic Average Fares and the Inflation Rate* by Year Since 1995

(4th Quarter to 4th Quarter for fares; Dec to Dec for inflation)

Fares are 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. 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 other fees paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

Since 4th Quarter ...Duration in YearsAverage Fare in 2012 dollars ($)Percent Change in Average Fare to 4th Quarter 2012 (%)Inflation Rate Change to Dec 2012
2012 374  
20111375-0.21.7
201023516.64.8
200933409.96.3
20084377-0.99.2
200753603.79.3
200663623.313.8
200573671.816.7
200483594.220.7
20039393-5.024.6
200210392-4.626.9
200111390-4.029.9
200012449-16.732.0
199913434-13.836.4
199814443-15.640.1
199715418-10.542.3
199616403-7.244.8
199517430-13.149.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index

Table 3. Adjusted Average Domestic Airline Fares by Quarter

Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter

Fares are 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. 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 other fees paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fare (2012$)
Average Fare in 2012 dollars ($)Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
3Q 2010357 
4Q 2010351-1.8
1Q 20113654.2
2Q 20113762.9
3Q 2011365-2.9
4Q 20113752.7
1Q 2012373-0.5
2Q 20123853.2
3Q 2012364-5.4
4Q 20123742.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Note: Quarter-to-quarter changes may be affected by seasonal factors.

Table 4. Unadjusted 4th Quarter Average Fares, 1995-2012

Fares are 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. 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 other fees paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

 Average 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) (%)
1995288  
1996278-3.3-3.3
19972945.52.0
19983167.79.9
19993180.610.5
20003407.018.2
2001300-11.84.2
20023093.07.3
20033162.29.7
2004297-5.93.3
20053155.99.4
20063181.110.6
20073303.614.6
20083454.720.0
2009320-7.411.1
20103354.716.3
201136810.028.0
20123741.529.7

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 5. Unadjusted Average Domestic Airline Fares by Quarter

Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter

Fares are 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. 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 other fees paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fare (current$)
Average Fare in current dollars ($)Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
3Q 2010340-0.3
4Q 2010335-1.5
1Q 20113566.3
2Q 20113703.9
3Q 2011361-2.4
4Q 20113682.1
1Q 20123731.2
2Q 20123853.2
3Q 2012367-4.6
4Q 20123741.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Note: Quarter-to-quarter changes may be affected by seasonal factors.

Table 6. Airports with Highest and Lowest U.S. Domestic Average Itinerary Fares 4th Quarter 2012

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2011 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

Fares are 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. 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 other fees paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

RankOrigin4th Quarter 2012 ($)
 Highest Average Fares 
1Huntsville, AL544
2Cincinnati, OH518
3Houston Bush, TX501
4Washington Dulles493
5Newark-Liberty, NJ484
 Average Fare at All Airports374
 Lowest Average Fares 
1Atlantic City, NJ157
2Long Beach, CA234
3Fort Lauderdale, FL267
4Las Vegas, NV268
5Orlando, FL276

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Table 7. One-Year Change by Airport: Top 5 Airport Percentage Increases and Decreases in U.S. Domestic Average Itinerary Fare, 4th Quarter 2011 to 4th Quarter 2012

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2011 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers, Fares Adjusted for Inflation

Fares are 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. 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 other fees paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

RankOrigin4th Quarter 2011 (2012$)4th Quarter 2012 (2012$)Percent Change (%)
 Largest Increases   
1Newport News/Williamsburg, VA33443129.2
2Huntsville, AL48254412.9
3Houston Hobby, TX3093368.5
4Milwaukee, WI3103327.3
5Knoxville, TN4334637.1
 Average Fare at All Airports375374-0.2
 Largest Decreases   
1Colorado Springs, CO477372-22.1
2Atlantic City, NJ192157-17.9
3Des Moines, IA429387-9.8
4Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena, CA304282-7.4
5Atlanta, GA385361-6.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 8. 12-Year Change by Airport: Top 5 Percentage Increases and Decreases in U.S. Domestic Average Itinerary Fare, 2000-2012

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2011 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers, Fares Adjusted for Inflation

Fares are 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. 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 other fees paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

RankOrigin4th Quarter 2000 (2012$)4th Quarter 2012 (2012$)Percent Change (%)
 Largest Increases   
1Newport News/Williamsburg, VA35043123.1
2Houston Hobby, TX28933616.1
3Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena, CA24828213.6
4Reno, NV29232712.3
5El Paso, TX34137811.0
 Average Fare at All Airports449374-16.7
 Largest Decreases   
1Atlantic City, NJ300157-47.5
2White Plains, NY728390-46.4
3Denver, CO552320-42.0
4Long Beach, CA396234-41.0
5Charlotte, NC654397-39.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

For air fares for the following airports, go to

Multiple airport areas for which a single average fare calculation is available are: Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC.

Airports covered by average fare calculations are:

Alabama.Birmingham, Huntsville
ArizonaPhoenix, Tucson
Arkansas:Little Rock
California:Burbank, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles Intl, Oakland,
Ontario/San Bernardino, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana (Orange County)
ColoradoColorado Springs, Denver
ConnecticutHartford
District of Columbia Dulles, Reagan National
FloridaFt. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola,
Tampa, West Palm Beach
GeorgiaAtlanta
IdahoBoise
IllinoisChicago Midway, Chicago O'Hare
IndianaIndianapolis
IowaDes Moines
KansasWichita
KentuckyLouisville
LouisianaNew Orleans
MainePortland
MarylandBaltimore
MassachusettsBoston
MichiganDetroit, Flint, Grand Rapids
MinnesotaMinneapolis/St. Paul
MississippiJackson/Vicksburg
MissouriKansas City, St. Louis
NebraskaOmaha
NevadaLas Vegas, Reno
New HampshireManchester
New JerseyAtlantic City, Newark
New MexicoAlbuquerque
New YorkAlbany, Buffalo, Islip, New York JFK, New York LaGuardia, Rochester, Syracuse, White Plains
 North CarolinaCharlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh/Durham
OhioAkron/Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton
OklahomaOklahoma City, Tulsa
OregonPortland
PennsylvaniaHarrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
Rhode IslandProvidence
South CarolinaCharleston, Greenville-Spartanburg
TennesseeKnoxville, Memphis, Nashville
TexasAustin, Dallas Love, Dallas/Ft. Worth, El Paso, Houston Bush,
 Houston Hobby, San Antonio
UtahSalt Lake City
VermontBurlington
VirginiaNewport News/Williamsburg, Norfolk, Richmond
WashingtonBellingham, Seattle, Spokane
WisconsinMadison, Milwaukee
Updated: Thursday, December 7, 2017
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