updated 7/28/2010 2:30:04 PM ET 2010-07-28T18:30:04

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

  1. Related coverage
    1. AP
      Fare sales tougher to come by?

      Good times are finally back for the nation's airlines. For travelers, that means it's getting harder to find bargains.

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.

  1. Don't miss these Travel stories
    1. Lords of the gourd compete for Punkin Chunkin honors

      With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.

    2. Airports, airlines work hard to return your lost items
    3. Expert: Tourist hordes threaten Sistine Chapel's art
    4. MGM Grand wants Las Vegas guests to Stay Well
    5. Report: Airlines collecting $36.1B in fees this year

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.

Slideshow: Awful airlines

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.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments