CHART ONE: REFUNDABLE FARES

One-way flight
Los Angeles to Chicago

1975

2014
Unbundled

Lowest price Including taxes

$138

$508

Calling Reservation Center

$0

$25

Ticket-change fee

$0

$0

Standby privilege

$0

$0

Priority Boarding

$0

$25

Extra legroom

$0

$68

1st checked bag (70 lbs.)

$0

$25

2nd checked bag (70 lbs.)

$0

$35

Excess-bag fee

$0

$200

Frequent flyer miles

$28

$0

Meal

$0

$10

Inflation adjustment (335%)

$462

$0

Real Cost

$628

$896

CHART TWO: CHEAPEST FARES

One-way based on roundtrip
Los Angeles to Chicago

1975

2014
Unbundled

2014
Bundled

Lowest price including taxes

$97

$204

$284

Calling Reservation Center

$0

$25

$25

Ticket-change fee

$0

$200

$0

Standby privilege

$0

$75

$0

Priority Boarding

$0

$25

$0

Extra legroom

$0

$68

$68

1st checked bag (70 lbs.)

$0

$25

$0

2nd checked bag (70 lbs.)

$0

$35

$35

Excess-bag fee

$0

$200

$200

Frequent flyer miles

$28

$0

(-$14)

Meal

$0

$10

$10

Inflation adjustment (335%)

$325

$0

$0

Real Cost

$450

$867

$608


NOTES ON THE CHARTS
CHART ONE:
In 1975, airfares were refundable, so this chart compares lowest available refundable fares then and now. The comparison is for a nonstop, one-way flight on June 16 between Los Angeles and Chicago/O'Hare on American Airlines. The 1975 fare was published in the OAG North American Edition. The current fare was available as of May 5 on AA.com. Unbundled fees are published on AA.com or flight-specific rates offered during the booking process. The 1975 fare included two checked bags that each could weigh 70 pounds. Current charges for checked bags are for 50 pounds; 70-pound bags incur a $100 excess-baggage fee. There were no frequent flyer programs in 1975, so I calculated the value of a mile at 1.6 cents since a restricted-award ticket between Los Angeles and Chicago costs 25,000 miles for a trip worth $408 roundtrip at current prices. The 335% inflation rate was calculated by InflationData.com. In 1975, American flew LAX-ORD with DC-10s. Today, it uses Boeing 737s. To match 1975's comfort levels on today's flights, passengers would have to purchase seats in AA's Main Cabin Extra. That's a $68 upcharge on this route.

CHART TWO: The comparison between lowest available fares in 1975 and today is skewed because even the lowest fare in 1975 was refundable. Current lowest fares are nonrefundable. The fares listed are one-way based on a roundtrip purchase. The "unbundled" 2014 fare is American's "Choice" fare while the bundled price is American's "Choice Plus," which includes a free checked bag (50 pounds), priority boarding and waiver of ticket-change and same-day standby fees. Choice Plus fares also includes a 50 percent mileage bonus, which I have deducted from the bundled fare at the 1.6-cents-per-mile rate.