The table below provides a history of average domestic U.S. airfares (excluding taxes and other government-imposed charges) as well as average amounts collected by airlines related to reservation changes and the transportation of luggage. The data begins with 1979, the first year of deregulated domestic air service.
- In 1979, for example, domestic passengers flew an average of 1,947 miles per round trip and paid a fare of $186.22 or 9.56 cents per mile flown, plus a reservation change fee of 6 cents and a bag fee of 44 cents for a total of $186.72
- In 2015, domestic passengers flew an average of 2,383 miles per round trip and paid a fare of $363.98 or 15.27 cents per mile flown, plus a reservation change fee of $10.11 and a bag fee of $12.80 for a total of $386.89
The statistics below are derived from the U.S. Department of Transportation Passenger Origin and Destination (O&D) Survey, formally known as the Data Bank 1B (DB1B) Ticket Dollar Value O&D file. This file contains data reported by participating carriers from a 10 percent sample of airline tickets, including the full itinerary and the dollar amounts paid by each passenger for seating in all cabins, including first and business. A summary follows:
- Miles – average miles flown per domestic round-trip journey
- Yield – average fare (stated in cents) paid by domestic passengers per mile flown
- Fare – average fare (stated in dollars) paid per domestic round-trip journey
- Change – average amount paid per domestic round-trip journey to change or cancel reservations for domestic travel
- Bag – average amount paid per domestic round-trip journey to transport bags domestically
- Total – average round-trip amount paid by domestic passengers, including the fare and any reservation change fees or baggage fees
Because a change in the price of a good or service over time has little value in isolation, it is common practice to adjust for inflation. Accordingly, the two rightmost columns below [Fare (CY00) and Total (CY00)] present the average fare and average fare plus reservation change fee plus baggage fee information in constant Year 2000 dollars, using the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- From 1979 to 2015, the U.S. CPI rose from 72.6 to 237.017 or 227 percent
- That means that in constant Year 2000 dollars (in “real” terms), the average round-trip domestic fare fell from $441.84 in 1979 to $264.44 in 2015
- Including reservation change fees and bag fees, the average round-trip domestic journey price fell from $443.03 in 1979 to $281.09 in 2015