The average domestic air fare increased to $381 in the fourth quarter of 2013, up 0.3 percent from the average fare of $380 in the fourth quarter of 2012, adjusted for inflation in constant 2013 dollars, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. During that October to December period, Huntsville, Ala., had the highest average fare, $528, while Long Beach, Calif., had the lowest, $249.
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 were 28 percent of fares calculated for the fourth quarter of 2013. 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 either the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares,” or abnormally high reported fares.
Fourth-quarter fares rose 10.2 percent adjusted for inflation from the recession-affected low of $345 in 2009 to $380 in 2011, approaching the 2008 level of $383. Since 2011, fourth, quarter fares have shown little change, dropping 0.2 percent from 2011 to 2012, and rising 0.3 percent from 2012 to 2013. Fourth-quarter fares were 0.2 percent above the 2011 level.
The fourth-quarter 2013 fare was down 16.3 percent adjusted for inflation in constant 2013 dollars from the average fare of $455 in 2000, the highest inflation-adjusted fourth quarter average fare in the 18 years since BTS began collecting air fare records in 1995. The 16.3 percent decline took place while there was an increase in overall consumer prices of 33.9 percent. In the 18 years since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 12.8 percent compared to a 51.8 percent increase in overall consumer prices.
The average fare of $381 for the full year 2013 was up 0.1 percent, inflation-adjusted, from the 2012 average fare of $380 but down 17.0 percent from the inflation-adjusted annual high of $459 in 2000. Not adjusted for inflation, the $381 average fare in 2013 is the highest annual fare since BTS began collecting air fare records in 1995, 1.6 percent higher than the previous high of $375 in 2012.