Airlines have been piling on the fees in recent years but when it comes to ticket prices, the cost of base fares have actually declined over the past several years.
This thwarts customer perception that airfares have risen.
Travel site Airfarewatchdog.com recently polled over 2,500 travelers and found an overwhelming majority—91 percent—believe airfares prices have gone up in recent years. But George Hobica, Airfare Watchdog’s president, says the data tells a different story.
"According to Airlines For America, an industry trade group, and government statistics, adjusted for inflation, airfares have actually gone down over the last 10 to 20 years,” Hobica explained. “We recently saw coast-to-coast fares on United for $150 round-trip including tax; Chicago to Boston and LA was $80 round-trip on several airlines.”
What has changed is the cost associated with numerous fees for luggage, food, entertainment extras—and penalties for changing travel dates. Southwest is now the only major U.S. carrier that does not charge extra for checked luggage.
Hobica continued, “Of course, it depends on where you're going and when, but in general, we find that adjusted for inflation, airfares have not gone up over the last two decades. In fact, an argument can be made that they've actually gone down.”
Only 5 percent of survey respondents said they believe airfare has gotten cheaper over the past 10 to 20 years while 4 percent believe they have stayed the same.