Charisse Jones / USA Today
Airline fares increased nearly 6% in May, the steepest one-month increase in 15 years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Flying was just one of the many goods and services that increased in cost, with overall consumer prices in May experiencing their biggest spike in 15 months as the Consumer Price Index rose 0.4%.
The dramatic spike in the cost of airline tickets from April to May was part of a trend that saw fares rise 4.7% between May 2013 and May 2014, the biggest year-over-year change since November 2011, according to the index.
With fuel costs on the rise against the backdrop of unrest in the Middle East, some travel watchers say a dip in airline ticket prices is unlikely to come any time soon.
"With the turmoil in the Middle East and Ukraine, oil and other energy costs may continue to rise, which will either eat into already slim airline profits or cause fares to rise further,'' says George Hobica, founder of airfarewatchdog.com.
Victoria Day, spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the trade group that represents most major U.S. airlines, says air travel is still affordable, particularly as the economy improves.
"The growth in air travel demand has generally been exceeding the growth in supply,'' she says, "and consumers' purchasing power is actually increasing with gains in household net worth and disposable personal income.''
Hobica added that many fliers will likely adjust to rising fares rather than stay home.
"I think there's still a lot of pent-up demand, and passengers will continue to fly,'' he says. "Consumers are re-thinking what a cheap fare is. We see this all the time when we reluctantly tweet a fare that used to be $200 cheaper and someone tweets back 'that's a bargain.' ''