Travel Trends

Q3 2019 U.S. Airline Traffic Data

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Q3 2019 U.S. Airline Traffic Data

U.S. domestic air fares in the third quarter of 2019 of $345 were the lowest on record, inflation adjusted, based on Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) records dating from 1995.  The third-quarter 2019 fares were down 1.2% from the previous low of $349 in the third quarter of 2018.

Adjusted for inflation, (constant 2019 dollars) the 3Q 2019 air fare was:

  • Down 1.2% from 3Q 2018 ($349)
  • Down 3.6% from 2Q 2019 ($358). The second-quarter fare was revised from $364 in the previous release after Frontier Airlines refiled second-quarter data. Frontier’s revised second-quarter and third-quarter data are included in this release.
  • Down 18.3% from 3Q 2014 ($422)

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, BTS Air Fares, Origin and Destination Survey

Itinerary Fares: Round-trips, but includes one-way tickets if no return is purchased.Breakout of trip types: one-way, 40% ($250); round-trip, 60% ($421).Fare calculations by BTSBased on a random sample of 10% of the tickets.Total ticket value: The price charged by airlines at time of ticket purchase.Included: Additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at time of ticket purchase.Not included: Fees for optional services, such as baggage fees.  

Figure 1. U.S. Average Domestic Fares, 3rd Quarter 1995-2019Source: 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey

Inflation-Adjusted Air FaresThird Quarter 2019 fare ($345):Compared to All Third Quarters: Down 31.3% from the highest 3Q fare, $503 in 2000.Compared to All Quarters: Down 33.3% from the highest fare for any quarter, $517 in 1Q 1999.Start of BTS records: Down 31.7% from 1Q 1995 ($505).Recent high: Down 19.2% from 2Q 2014 ($427).Recent low:  Down 1.2% from 3Q 2018 ($349).All-time low: Down 1.2% from the previous low 3Q 2018 ($349).All-time third-quarter low:  Down 1.2% from the previous low 3Q 2018 ($349). Other Revenue: In recent years, airlines increasingly obtain additional revenue from passenger fees, as well as from other sources. U.S. passenger airlines collected 73.8% of total operating revenue of $108.6 billion from passenger fares during the first nine months of 2019, down from 88.5% in 1990. Unadjusted Air Fares  Third Quarter 2019 fare ($345):Trend: Down 3.4% from 2Q 2019 ($357)Compared to All Third Quarters: Down 11.9% from the highest 3Q fare, $392 in 2014Compared to All Quarters: Down 12.8% from the highest fare for any quarter, $395 in 2Q 2014Start of BTS records: Up 16.2% from 1Q 1995 ($297) (compared to 67.4% consumer price increase)Recent low: Up 2.8% from 3Q 2017 ($336)Recent high: Down 12.8% from 2Q 2014 ($396)All-time low: Up 25.1% from 2Q 1996 ($276).All-time third-quarter low: Up 24.8% from 3Q 1996 ($277).

Figure 2. Fares by Airport Group based on Number of Originating Domestic Passengers 3Q 2019 Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey

Fares by airport group:Highest: 52 airports with 100,000-499,999 originating passengers ($355)Lowest: Eight airports with 1.5 to 1.9 million originating passengers ($321)

Additional data: see Top 100 Airports or All Airports. Fourth Quarter 2019 average fare data will be released April 21.

Standard error: Results for average fares are based on the BTS Origin & Destination Survey, a 10% sample of airline tickets used during the quarter. Averages for airports with smaller samples may be less reliable.

Note: Results for average fares are based on the BTS Origin & Destination Survey, a 10 percent sample of airline tickets used during the quarter. For results based on all itinerary fares, the standard error is 0.28.  The 90% confidence interval ranges from $344.64 to $345.54.  For results based on round-trip fares, the standard error is 0.35.  The 90% confidence interval ranges from $420.55 to $421.70. For results based on one-way fares, the standard error is 0.33.  The 90% confidence interval ranges from $249.44 to $250.54.



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