Air Travel Is Actually Really Cheap Now, Compared To The 1950s

Photo by Chalmers Butterfield, Wikimedia Commons

A lot has changed since the Golden Age of Flying. Air travel in the 1950s came with roomy seats and a stylish flight crew, and without security hassles and add-on fees. But truth be told, it was a glamorous luxury few could afford: over the years, ticket prices have dropped approximately 40 percent, making it much more reasonable for an average Joe to take to the skies. In fact, approximately 38 million people flew in 1958 compared to 809 million 50 years later.

Paleofuture found an ad from the 1950s and looked into how much it cost for to travel by plane in the 1950s, and what the relative value would be in today’s dollars, accounting for inflation. Here are some sample one-way fares:

  • New York to Paris, France: $310 in 1955, $2,622 adjusted for inflation
  • New York to Rome, Italy: $360.20 in 1955, $3,046 adjusted for inflation
  • Pittsburgh to San Francisco: $96 in 1955, $812 adjusted for inflation
  • San Francisco to Chicago: $76 in 1955, $643 adjusted for inflation
  • Phoenix to Chicago: $69 in 1955, $584 adjusted for inflation

Sure, we have to deal with fewer amenities and less legroom than they did in the 1950s, but in the grand scheme of things we can get from point A to point B for a fraction of the cost. We might not get there comfortably, but at least we get to save our money for when we get there.