Airline Fares Up 5% in 2010

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives for the Farnborough Airshow in Hampshire, England Sunday, July 18, 2010. It is the first time the plane has been seen outside the U.S. Chris Ison/PA Wire URN:9191214 (Press Association via AP Images) Chris Ison/PA Wire

If you think airfares have been rising, it's not your imagination.

Figures just released from the government, while a bit dated, show that airline prices in the first three months of this year rose nearly 5 percent from a year earlier. And that doesn't include baggage fees and other extras.

But if you take a step back, air travel still looks like a bargain. Average fares are 25 percent lower than they were in 1999 after adjusting them for inflation, the government says.

The numbers were contained in a report issued Wednesday by the Department of Transportation.

The average domestic fare in the first quarter of 2010 rose to $328. Since 2001, the average price for the first quarter was higher only once - in 2008, when it hit $333.

The government figures include the ticket price plus taxes and things like security fees. They don't include add-ons such as fees to check baggage. The numbers are several months old, and information from other sources indicates that prices continued to rise into the summer.

By June, passengers were paying about 18 percent more than they did in June 2009, according to the Air Transport Association, a trade group for the biggest U.S. airlines.

The government says the highest average fare during the first quarter was in Huntsville, Ala., and the lowest was in Atlantic City, N.J.

The figures show the influence that low-cost airlines have on local fares. Huntsville is dominated by major airlines and has very limited service by discount carriers - AirTran offers just a few flights to two other cities.

The biggest price hike between early 2009 and early 2010 occurred in Charleston, S.C., where AirTran pulled out last December. On the flip side, prices fell the most in Milwaukee. Southwest Airlines began service there last year and competes against AirTran and Frontier.
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