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Air Fares

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Annual and Fourth-Quarter 2019 Air Fare Data

Release Number: 
BTS 23-20
Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2020
 

The 2019 average domestic itinerary air fare of $355 was the lowest inflation-adjusted annual fare since the Bureau of Transportation Statistics began collecting such records in 1995, down 0.3% from the previous low of $356 in 2018.

During the year, fares dropped in the third quarter to $346, inflation-adjusted, the lowest quarterly fare on record. In the fourth quarter, fares rose to $357, up 2.1% from the $349 fare in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Annual Air Fares

 
Inflation-adjusted
Annual 2019 fare ($355):
From Previous Year: Down 1.7% from 2018 ($356)
All Years: Down 29.5% from the highest fare for any year, $503 in 2000
Start of BTS records: Down 27.6% from 1995 ($490)
Recent high: Down 17.1% from 2014 ($428)
 
Unadjusted
Annual 2019 fare ($355):
From Previous Year: Up 1.5% from 2018 ($350)
All Years: Down 10.5% from the highest fare for any year, $396 in 2014
Start of BTS records: Up 21.4% from 1995 ($292) (compared to 67.9% consumer price increase)
Recent low: Up 14.3% from 2009 ($310)
 
Unadjusted Fares (current dollars)Inflation-Adjusted (2019 $)
1995292490
1996277451
1997287458
1998309485
1999324497
2000339503
2001321463
2002312444
2003315438
2004305413
2005307402
2006329417
2007325401
2008346411
2009310370
2010336394
2011364414
2012375417
2013384422
2014396428
2015379409
2016350373
2017347362
2018350356
2019355355
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey

Fare calculations by BTS
Itinerary Fares: Round-trips, but includes one-ways if no return is purchased.
Breakout of trip types: one-way, 39% ($255); round-trip: 61%, ($426).
 
Based on a random sample of 10% of the tickets.
Total ticket value: The price charged by airlines at time of ticket purchase.
Included: Additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at time of ticket purchase.
Not included: Fees for optional services, such as baggage fees.

Other Revenue: In recent years, airlines increasingly obtained additional revenue from passenger fees, as well as from other sources. U.S. passenger airlines collected 73.7% of total operating revenue of $108.7 billion from passenger fares during the first nine months of 2019, down from 87.6% in 1995.

Results for average fares are based on the BTS Origin & Destination Survey, a 10% sample of airline tickets used during the quarter. For results based on all itinerary fares for 2019, the standard error is 0.18. The median fare for the year was $293.00.

Fourth Quarter 2019 Air Fares

U.S. domestic air fares in the fourth quarter of 2019 was $357. This average fare was the all-time low for any fourth quarter, inflation-adjusted, down 1.9% from the previous low in 2017.

Adjusted for inflation, (constant 2019 dollars) the 4Q 2019 air fare was:

  • Down 2.7% from 4Q 2018 ($366)
  • Up 3.1% from 3Q 2019 ($346)
  • Down 16.5% from 4Q 2014 ($427)
Itinerary Fares: Round-trips, but includes one-way tickets if no return is purchased.
Breakout of trip types: one-way, 37% ($253); round-trip, 63% ($428).
 
Fourth Quarter 2019 fare ($357):
Compared to All Fourth Quarters: Down 29.4% from the highest 4Q fare, $505 in 2000.
Compared to All Quarters: Down 31.2% from the highest fare for any quarter, $518 in 1Q 1999.
Start of BTS records: Down 29.6% from 1Q 1995 ($506).
Recent high: Down 16.7% from 2Q 2014 ($428).
Recent low:  Up 1.8% from 3Q 2018 ($350).
All-time low: Up 3.1% from the all-time low 3Q 2019 ($346).
All-time fourth-quarter low:  4Q 2019 was the all-time low, down 1.9% from the previous low 4Q 2017 ($364).
 
Fourth Quarter 2019 fare ($357):
Trend: Up 3.3% from 3Q 2019 ($345)
Compared to All Fourth Quarters: Down 9.8% from the highest 4Q fare, $395 in 2014
Compared to All Quarters: Down 9.9% from the highest fare for any quarter, $396 in 2Q 2014
Start of BTS records: Up 20.1% from 1Q 1995 ($297) (compared to 67.9% consumer price increase)
Recent low: Up 6.2% from 3Q 2017 ($336)
Recent high: Down 9.9% from 2Q 2014 ($396)
All-time low: Up 29.3% from 2Q 1996 ($276).
All-time fourth-quarter low: Up 28.1% from 4Q 1996 ($278).
 
Originating Domestic Passengers4Q Fares (current dollars)
2M+$368
1.5M-2M$337
1M-1.5M$346
500K-1M$346
100K-500K$360
Top 100 Airports$353
All Airports$357
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey

Highest: Nine airports with 2M+ originating passengers ($368)
Lowest: Seven airports with 1.5 to 1.9 million originating passengers ($337)

Additional data: see Top 100 Airports or All Airports. First Quarter 2020 average fare data will be released July 21.

Standard error: Results for average fares are based on the BTS Origin & Destination Survey, a 10% sample of airline tickets used during the quarter. Averages for airports with smaller samples may be less reliable.

Note: Results for average fares are based on the BTS Origin & Destination Survey, a 10% sample of airline tickets used during the quarter. For Q4 2019 results based on all itinerary fares, the standard error is 0.31 and the median fare is $296.00. The 90% confidence interval ranges from $356.07 to $356.97. For results based on round-trip fares, the standard error is 0.38 and the median fare is $370. The 90% confidence interval ranges from $428.04 to $429.16. For results based on one-way fares, the standard error is 0.27 and the median fare is $199. The 90% confidence interval ranges from $252.75 to $253.89.  

Updated: Wednesday, April 22, 2020