With all the changes in air travel over the past 25 years — shrinking coach-seat space, mergers, elite perks, fees upon fees — is anything left unchanged?

The ticket price.

In the first quarter of 1996, the average domestic airline ticket cost $284, according to the Transportation Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Twenty-five years later — the first quarter of this year — the average domestic ticket cost? $260.

Adjusted for inflation, air travel in the U.S. has gotten much cheaper. That 1996 ticket in today’s dollars would be $482, BTS says, or 85% more than the recent pandemic-depressed average price.

An expanded version of this article appears on WSJ.com.

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