Average domestic airfares for the third quarter of 2017 hit their lowest level in 23 years, falling to just $336, according to data released by by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Before this, the record lowest quarterly fare was $346, for the second quarter of 2009.
Adjusted for inflation, the $336 average fare represents a 5.7 percent decrease from the third quarter of 2016, and a 30.2 percent decrease from the highest inflation-adjusted third quarter average fare on record, $481, which was measured in 2000. Inflation-adjusted fares have declines 28.5 percent since 1995.
Airports with 1.5 million to 2 million enplanements had lowest average fare in Q3 2017, at $309, while the smallest commercial airports (50,000-100,000 enplanements) had the highest average fare at $367.
While average airfares have declined in recent years, airlines have gained additional revenue through fees and other sources. Of U.S. passenger airlines’ 2017 revenue, 75 percent of the total came from passenger fares. In comparison, airfares accounted for 88.9 percent of airline revenue from passengers in 2000.
BTS noted that one-way trips accounted for 39 percent of the fares calculated. The average domestic one-way fare cost $241, and the average round-trip fare cost $409. These fares are based on total ticket values, which include the base ticket price plus taxes and fees charged at the time of purchase. Fees accrued after the initial purchase are not included in these quarterly calculations. Averages also exclude frequent-flyer or “zero fare” purchases. Numbers are adjusted for inflation using constant 2017 dollars.
To view more historic data, see the BTS Air Fare web page.