Believe it or not: The average price of a plane ticket has gone down

Plane tickets are getting less expensive.

The average cost for domestic air fare dropped to $344 for the third quarter of 2016, down nearly 9 percent from the same time the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

RELATED: Number of guns found at airport checkpoints up sharply in 2016

A US Airways jet passes an American Airlines plane parked at the gate at Palm Beach International Airport.  (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)
A US Airways jet passes an American Airlines plane parked at the gate at Palm Beach International Airport. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)

The number, which is adjusted for inflation, is based on itinerary fares, which typically are two-way trips but could include a one-way ticket. The DOT said those one-way fares accounted for about 38 percent of all tickets purchased from July to September last year. For that time period, the average cost of a one-way fare was $242, and the average cost of a round-trip fare was $424. Fare prices do not include extra charges such as baggage fees — only the price paid when a traveler buys a ticket.

Palm Beach International Airport’s average domestic fare for the third quarter last year was $327 — a slight increase from the same time in 2015 — and the airport had nearly 340,000 passengers start their trips there, the DOT said.

At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the average domestic fare was $241 — the lowest among its group of airports that served between 1 million and 1.5 million passengers in the third quarter last year, and about a 9 percent drop from the same time the year before.

Ticket prices fell about 14 percent from 2014, and about 26.5 percent from the third quarter of 2000, when average ticket prices hit a peak for the 21-year stretch the DOT has kept track of fare records, the agency said.

 

 

 

Airplane bathrooms could get a lot easier to get in and out of

Think airplane bathrooms are tough to get in and out of? Imagine being in a wheelchair.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a plan to make bathrooms on single-aisle aircraft — used for most domestic U.S. flights and many shorter international trips — more accessible.

And we’ve all been there: trying to get in and out of the lavatory while you’re mid-flight can be a struggle, even for the most able-bodied.

(Photo by Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images)

The DOT’s ACCESS Advisory Committee — which includes airline representatives, people with disabilities and flight attendants — also is proposing a rule that would require airlines to offer entertainment for people who are blind and deaf. Airlines would need to offer some in-flight TV shows and movies that would be captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing passengers, along with audio described entertainment for people who are blind.

» RELATED: U.S. government considers allowing phone calls on flights

“It is unfair to expect individuals with limited mobility to refrain from using the restroom when they fly on single aisle aircraft, particularly since single aisle aircraft are increasingly used for longer flights,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “It is also unfair for passengers who are deaf or blind not to be able to enjoy the same entertainment that is available to other passengers. I’m pleased that all involved parties are working together towards our common goal of universal access to the air transportation system. We are committed to is

suing a rulemaking to implement this agreement.”

The plan combines short-term and long-term fixes, the DOT said. In the short-term, airlines would have to make bathrooms more accessible or increase the size of the restrooms within three years after the final rule takes effect. Plus, the committee said the DOT needs to set better safety and maneuverability standards for the wheelchairs used on airplanes.

In the long-term, the DOT will propose a rule that airlines must offer on sinlge-aisle airplanes with more than 125 passenger seats an accessible bathroom similar to what’s offered not on twin-aisle aircraft.

The DOT is expected to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking based on this agreement in July.

 

 

 

 

Cuba flights: Six U.S. airlines approved for this fall

cuba mapSix U.S. airlines have been approved to fly between the U.S. and Cuba as early as this fall, federal officials said Friday.

“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.  “Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”

The airlines involved are American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines.

They are on course to begin scheduled flights between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul and Cuba.

Arrangements allow each country to operate up to 10 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba’s nine international airports, other than Havana, for a total of 90 daily roundtrips.  Over time, the plan is for up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana, with a decision on those routes expected later this summer.

For more, see a fact sheet here.

So when can someone buy a ticket for a scheduled flight to Cuba?

Stay tuned. Federal officials say the airlines are now positioned to seek Cuban government authority and begin making the local arrangements necessary to launch their services. The idea is to begin services in the fall and winter, and some airlines may begin selling tickets well in advance.

Air fares: Not dropping like fuel prices, but lowest since 2010

Air fhawaiianares may not have dropped as much as lower fuel prices suggest they could, but they have reached the lowest  average since 2010, a federal agency said today.

The average domestic fare fell to $363 in the fourth quarter of 2015, down 8.3 percent from $396 in the fourth quarter of 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics said.

That’s not on the level of a drop of prices at the gas pump from more than $3 a gallon in 2014 to close to $2 last year.

Airline profits have soared as a result, reports show.

Still, the bottom line is fares are down. For the full year of 2015,  the average fare of $377  was down 3.8 percent, inflation-adjusted, from the 2014 average fare of $392 and down 19.2 percent from a high of $467 in 2000, officials said. The 2015 full-year average was the lowest since $365 in 2010,  the agency said.

Airline aarghs: Complaints climbed 30% in 2015, DOT says

hawaiianThe skies are getting a little less friendly, if complaints are any guide. Gripes about airlines jumped 30 percent in 2015, U.S. officials said Thursday.

It was a particularly bad December, with complaints up 47 percent over the same month last year.

On-time performance was up slightly from 2014, but an array of aggravations bedeviled passengers.

Complaints covered everything from flight problems to baggage, reservation and ticketing, refunds, consumer service, disability, and discrimination,  the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

Consumers may file air travel service complaints on the web at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer or by voice mail at (202) 366-2220.

DECEMBER 2015 STATISTICS
Overall

77.8 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 93.0 percent
  2. Alaska Airlines – 85.3 percent
  3. Delta Air Lines – 83.6 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates 

  1. Spirit Airlines – 68.7 percent
  2. jetBlue Airways – 70.1 percent
  3. Virgin America – 71.1 percent

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Envoy Air – 3.8 percent
  2. ExpressJet Airlines – 3.4 percent
  3. SkyWest Airlines – 2.9 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.1 percent
  2. Delta Air Lines – 0.3 percent
  3. jetBlue Airways – 0.3 percent

Source: https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/2015-airline-consumer-complaints-previous-year#sthash.ZQ4aIZD1.dpuf