Economist Mike Walden: Summer Air Travel

I’m Mary Walden with economist MW welcoming you to the economic perspective.  Today’s program looks at summer air travel.  Mike, a record 246 million Americans are expected to fly this summer.  Of course, most of us who have flown have our own horror stories about cancelled flights, lost luggage, or unruly passengers.  But when we look at the economics of air travel, what are some of the pluses and minuses?

  1. The two biggest pluses are competition and price
  2. There are many options today among carriers, particularly with the emergence of low-cost carriers
  3. As a result, it is estimated average fares are 6% lower than last summer
  4. Whereas 50 years ago, travel by air was a luxury, today it is almost considered a necessity – and much cheaper – after accounting for inflation – today
  5. Another plus is advances is materials to construct planes have made them much more fuel efficient
  6. On down side, airlines have worked hard to include their “load factor” – a technical term for how much passengers they can get on each plane
  7. Many seats are smaller and more cramped
  8. Last – fees are being used more and more – for carry-on luggage and other items
  9. Fees aren’t included in the standard fares – so makes them look better

And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension               program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.