As consumers and travel journalists, we're always a bit puzzled when airfare pundits send out releases announcing that the airlines reduced or increased "airfares" (they never say exactly how they measure or define an airfare) up by $20 or down by $10, or that there were this many or that many attempted fare increases last year. Call us crazy, but as near as we can make out, what really matters is what airfares actually sold for rather than what the airlines were asking for seats--in other words, published fares versus actual sales. So we found it interesting in Expedia's fourth quarter 2008 financial results (PDF) that the company's revenue per air ticket sold decreased four percent in the quarter compared to 2007's fourth quarter. To us, that's a more accurate picture of what airfares did late last year since it includes all types of fares. Anything else is irrelevant if you're looking for airfare statistics. Of course what really matters is how much you paid for your flight(s), not what the average is.


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