Airfares have marched steadily upward in recent months and are now close to pre-recession levels - and that's not even counting all the fees that airlines have introduced.
The increase in fares is the result of a discipline shown by the airlines, which have generally not added more flights this year even as the economy has improved and demand has picked up. For the airlines, flying fewer and fuller planes has paid off.
Passengers are paying the price. For leisure travelers, domestic fares have increased by more than 20 percent in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, according to data compiled by the travel website Orbitz. On international routes, the climb has been even steeper, with fares 30 percent higher than last year.
For business travelers, ticket prices increased by 12 percent in the first half of the year.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The price of round-trip coach tickets for a flight between Chicago and Atlanta, for instance, was about $250 this summer, a $50 increase over last year. A round-trip ticket from New York to Paris, which sold for less than $700 last year, cost more than $1,000 this summer.
Even as the summer ends, experts said they did not expect bargain fares to return anytime soon. While they expect price increases to moderate in coming months, when travel traditionally slows, travelers should brace for more increases for the year-end holidays.
The rise in fares can seem especially steep because it follows a low point for the industry. As the economy contracted, consumers cut back on spending and air travel collapsed, pushing prices down to their lowest levels in a decade.