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Domestic airfares rose $6 in the third quarter, which is peanuts

@denschaal

Jan 26, 2013 1:43 am

Skift Take

Since bag fees and other charges aren’t included in the “fares,” comparisons with bygone eras in aviation don’t really work.

— Dennis Schaal

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Grant Wickes  / Flickr.com

Passengers paid higher domestic fares in the third quarter of 2012. Pictured are passengers in an American Airlines 737. Grant Wickes / Flickr.com


Average domestic airfares rose 1.8% to $367 in the third quarter compared to a year earlier, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found.

Safe bet or not, Atlantic City, N.J., had the lowest average fare in the third quarter at $133.

Huntsville, Alabama, home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, had the highest average fare, $522.

There are some interesting data points in the BTS report about that average domestic fare of $367 in the third quarter of 2012.

  • The $367 average fare in the third quarter of 2012 is the fifth-highest average fare for any quarter since 1995, but the two previous high-fare marks occurred in the past year — $385 in the preceeding quarter, the second quarter of 2012, and $361 in the third quarter of 2011.
  • The third quarter of 2012 fare of $367 would be $243 in 1995 dollars. The highest inflation-adusted average fare for any quarter since 1995 was $297 in the third quarter of 2000.

Before we feel too sorry for the airlines in terms of their average fares not keeping up with inflation, consider another BTS statistic. U.S. airlines took in 71.2% of their total revenue from the fares themselves in the third quarter of 2012. In 1990, passenger airlines collected 87.6% of their total revenue from fares.

So the $367 average fare in the third quarter of 2012 doesn’t include the bevy of ancillary fees, including bag fees, for instance. In essence, those fees were part of the fare in a bygone era.

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