I've been on the road this week for the Samwick family sorta-annual trip to the Bay area. The trip out here, originally scheduled for a Boston to San Francisco nonstop, would read like one of those Fortunately/Unfortunately stories we remember from childhood. It is amazing that the airline industry survives in any form with fuel costs as high as they are and fares as low as they are.
Let's run the numbers:
4 seats x 2700 miles/segment x 2 segments = 21600 seat-miles
360 gallons x $2.60 per gallon (here) = $936
That's about 60% of the total cost of the tickets, leaving no more than $600 (including the taxes) for anything but the fuel tank in getting the four of us to and from our destination. All of the people, all of the airport services, ... everything. If you are feeling pretty frustrated about air travel these days, perhaps you are getting what you are paying for.
For an earlier run of the numbers, with an eye toward implications for reducing CO2 emissions, see this earlier post.