Airline fares rise amid falling CPI

Airline fares continued to rise in November, one of several indexes with increases that largely offset declines in other indexes and resulted in a seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) that was down 0.3 percent from the October figure.

The index for airline fares continued October's reversal of the summertime trend and rose 1.4 percent in November on the heels of a 2.4 percent rise the previous month. The index had fallen 5.9 percent in July, 4.7 percent in August, and 0.5 percent in September.

The calculations of airline fares include an allowance for checked bag fees but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not include other ancillary charges.

"We found a certain percentage of passengers checked bags," a BLS spokesperson told TheTravelPro in an e-mail. "We apply this percentage to all incoming quotes during sample rotation and then assign the appropriate checked bag fee (assuming 1 bag, for either one-way or round-trip, based on the description of the quote). We even apply baggage specs to airlines that do not charge for bags so that if they start to charge in the future, we could easily incorporate that price increase."

November’s increase in the airline fare index combined with a 0.3 percent increase in the shelter index, a 0.4 percent increase in the index for medical care and a 0.8 percent increase in the index for alcoholic beverages. Increases in those indexes and others largely offset the 3.8 percent dip in the energy index, which included an 8.9 percent drop in the gasoline index, as measured before seasonal adjustment.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in November following increases of 0.2 percent in October and 0.1 percent in September.

The all items index increased 1.3 percent over the last 12 months, a notable decline from the 1.7 percent figure from the 12 months ending October, the BLS said in its Dec. 17 statement on the topic. The index for all items less food and energy has increased 1.7 percent over the last 12 months, compared to 1.8 percent for the 12 months ending October. The food index has risen 3.2 percent over the span. However, the energy index has declined 4.8 percent over the past 12 months, with the gasoline and fuel oil indexes both falling over 10 percent.

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