Domestic Airline Prices Fall, But Are You Really Saving?

See recent posts by Lissa Poirot

The Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), Arlington, Virginia, revealed yesterday that domestic airline prices dropped in the last year. The fare drop is credited to lower fuel prices and airlines packing in more passengers on planes.

How much did the average fare fall in the last year? Just $2.01.

The same report showed prices were higher to certain domestic destinations, including New York City. The report failed to examine how airlines are now charging passengers for carry-on bags, checked bags, seat assignments, and snacks. For example, United seat assignments are free in the back of the plane, but if you do not book before those seats are gone, you’ll pay to get seats together as a family, starting at $35 per seat assignment. Discount airline Frontier may offer cheaper fares, but passengers will pay $20 to $40 for carry on bags, $20 to $30 for one checked bag, and even $2 for a can of soda. (The airline recently changed its check baggage policy to charge more per bag if checked at the airport instead of at time of ticket purchase.)

On a positive note: The ARC’s report did find a larger dip in airfare for those flying internationally. International fares dropped $50.72, on average.

When examining fare prices and searching for the best deal, be sure to check the airlines’ policies and fees schedules to determine the total cost of flying before purchase. Read Baggage Fees Per U.S. Carrier: Buyer Beware! for a list of major carrier fees.

–Lissa Poirot

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.