February 09, 2017

The Cost of Flying

By Grace Carr
We all know that travel can be exhausting and time consuming. The hours spent driving to the airport, standing in security lines, sitting on the tarmac, and traversing the skies can add up to a large chunk of our lives… and take a large chunk out of our wallets. But despite our complaints about the TSA and the price of tickets, the cost of travel has decreased and continues to decrease. If we look at a history of average domestic U.S. airfares (excluding taxes and other government-imposed charges) as well as the average amounts collected by airlines related to reservation changes and the transportation of luggage, we see that it is much cheaper to fly today than it was 30 or 40 years ago – and safer, I might add.

In 1979 (the first year of deregulated domestic air service), domestic passengers flew an average of 1,947 miles per round trip and paid a fare of $186.22. In 2015, domestic passengers flew an average of 2,384 miles per round trip and paid a fare of $363.23. Adjusted for inflation, however, the cost of a ticket in 1979 was $441.77. In 2015, it was $263.91. That’s a reduction of over 40 percent. So the next time we complain about airlines and the high costs of air travel, we should thank our lucky stars that we aren’t flying in the 1970s!

Speaking of the 1970s, have a look at one of our previous posts concerning the improving safety of air travel between the 1970s and today.