CONSUMER WATCH -- Buying an airline ticket today is a lot different than it was 25 years ago. With websites like Orbitz and Expedia and low-cost carriers like AirTran and Jet Blue competing for your business times have changed. One thing that hasn't changed: it still feels expensive to buy an airline ticket. It seems we are paying more these days. But when you take inflation into account, flying is surprisingly less expensive. Booking an airline flight and searching for the lowest fare? You might be surprised to learn that in many cases, ticket prices have actually not kept pace with inflation. Air travel analyst Terry Trippler conducted a random survey of schedules and airfares comparing ticket prices of today with those from 25 years ago for 27 different cities. When 1982 prices are adjusted for inflation, Trippler found that today's prices are actually lower. In 1982 there were three roundtrip flights from Boston to Los Angeles, with the lowest fare costing $298. Adjusted for inflation, that ticket should cost $635 today, but Trippler found that, not only are there nine roundtrip flights instead of three, the lowest fare was just $199. Flying from New York to Miami? In the eighties there were 21 flights, with the lowest fare costing $188. That same ticket should cost $400 in 2007, but Trippler found that the lowest fare was actually $158 and there are now 25 nonstop flights. So take some comfort when paying for that ticket. You could be paying a lot more.
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