We usually don't get into debates with other journalists and fare tracking sites, but we beg to differ on this one. USA Today asks in a headline today "Will fares go so high that only the rich can fly?" The article states that "In late July...United Airlines' cheapest non-stop round-trip coach fare for travel in mid-August between San Francisco and Washington was $580" (it doesn't state whether this includes taxes). As a source, the author quotes another fare comparison service.
Well, OK, nonstops on United were (and are) pretty high. In fact, they're now about $750 RT with taxes! But Southwest (still) has connecting flights on that route in August for $348 RT including tax (the source the article quotes doesn't monitor fares on Southwest) as you can see below; and Airtran has the route for August for $285 RT including taxes. OK, they're not nonstops. But that doesn't mean that travel is just for the rich, unless you're determined to spin an article that way to prove a point.
Both of these fares were found on August 4 using a flexible date search on Travelocity and Southwest.com.