Airfares are low, but passengers want to see them lower.

By Jessica Plautz
Updated: January 21, 2017
Torontonian / Alamy Stock Photo

What qualifies as a good deal on airfare? Is it simply a ticket that’s cheaper than the average on any given route, or should there be some other measure of the value of a flight?

In a survey of more than 9,000 U.S. travelers, a large majority of respondents—68 percent—said domestic airlines are charging unfair ticket prices.

That’s in spite of U.S. Department of Transportation statistics that show today’s airfares are among the lowest they’ve ever been.

“Adjusted for inflation, airfares are actually lower than they were 20 or even 10 years ago, on average,” said George Hobica, founder and president of Airfarewatchdog, in a statement. “We’ve even seen NYC to LA for $158 [roundtrip] this year.”

Airfarewatchdog asked travelers about ticket prices as part of its annual air travel survey.

Average airfare in 2015 was $377, while it was $454 in 1995 (in 2015 dollars).

So what’s with the apparent misconception? Maybe it’s not a misconception at all.

While fares are down, extra fees are up, and baggage fees and in-flight entertainment could eat into that $77 decrease pretty quickly.

Airfare is top of mind for many travelers: 90 percent of the survey’s respondents ranked price as “very important,” with other concerns like the number of stops, cabin cleanliness, and onboard amenities all trailing behind.

If you’re looking for a deal on airfare, check out these tips for getting the best price.