Lonely Planet Writer

Good news for travellers - flights to the US are cheaper than a year ago

If you are considering a trip to the United States, then now might be the time to book a flight.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Marine Headlands with San Francisco.
View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Marine Headlands with San Francisco. Image by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

The average price of a flight has dropped by more than US$30 in the space of just a year, according to the US Department of Transportation. They said the average air fare was $344 in the third quarter of last year, compared to $377 at the same time in 2015. Even more encouraging was the fact that flight prices seem to be steadily dropping after six long years of price hikes.

Average air fares hit a record low in 2009 at the height of the recession but in the years that followed rose every year. By 2014, they’d hit a peak but have now started dropping as airlines find different ways of earning revenue. The Department of Transportation said airlines were making up money by charging customers for optional extras – allowing passengers intent on keeping prices down to do so. They explained: “in recent years, airlines have obtained additional revenue from fees charged to passengers as well as from other sources. US passenger airlines collected 75% of their total revenue from passenger fares during the third quarter of 2016, down from 88% in 1995.” Average one way fares were $242 as compared to $424 for the average round trip.

While many airlines treat one way flights the exact same as return fares, some still do offer discounts for round trips. Flights are also cheaper the bigger the airport involved, according to their research. At airports with more than one million passengers a year, average fares ranged between $329 and $337. But at smaller airports, the average bill rose above $350.

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