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Average cost of a plane ticket drops to the lowest it's been in 5 years

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On average, it cost travelers $377 for a round-trip flight in 2015 – the lowest it's been since 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

That's down 3.8 percent from the average price in 2014 – and 19.2 percent from the high of $467 in 2000, the agency announced Monday.

But people flying out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport – 15th busiest airport by passenger volume in the United States – paid slightly more than the national average.

The average cost of a round-trip domestic flight out of MSP was $429.15 in 2015, figures show. The average cost of airfare at MSP in 2014 was $435.05.

Here's a look at how much it cost travelers on average to fly out of other airports in the region last year (click here to see the average cost at every domestic airport):

  • Rochester: $478.99
  • Duluth: $547.99
  • Chicago-O'Hare: $359.19
  • Chicago-Midway: $306.83
  • Milwaukee: $362.56
  • St. Cloud: $143.15
  • Bemidji: $599.13
  • Brainerd: $590

The Department of Transportation says the average price for airfare doesn't include any optional services, like baggage fees, Wi-Fi, paying extra to board early or any in-flight entertainment.

The cost of a plane ticket makes up less of the airline industry's total revenue than it did 10 years ago – in the third quarter of 2015 (the most recent data available) fares made up 75 percent of total revenue. In 2005, fares made up 78.4 percent, while in 2000 they made up 88.9 percent.

Experts in the airline industry say airfares continue to decline because of the drop in fuel costs and strong competition from low-fare airlines, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Lower fares make happier travelers

Those lower fares – along with more in-flight entertainment and the return of free snacks – has helped make travelers happier, USA Today says. Those surveyed in the 2016 American Customer Satisfaction Index gave U.S. carriers 72 out of 100 points – the only other time airlines have gotten a score that high was back in 1994.

The drop in ticket prices has passengers perceiving a better value for their money, the index says.

For more information on the travel industry, check out this infographic:

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