Travel is Cheap Today

Craig Depken looks at what it cost to travel from New York to New Orleans and back in 1906.

    From the Jan. 28, 1906 NYT is an advertisement for the Washington and Southern Railway:

    MARDI GRAS – NEW YORK TO NEW ORLEANS AND RETURN – $37.75.

    Tickets on sale February 21 to 27, good returning until March 3, 1906. Extension of limit March 16th can be had by depositing ticket and paying 50 cents at New Orleans.

    I don’t know how long it would have taken to get from the Big Apple to the Big Easy on a train, but I would figure two days or so. The folks over at EH.net estimate the following 2004 values for the $37 round trip:

    In 2004, $37.75 from 1906 is worth:
    $789.69 using the Consumer Price Index
    $628.95 using the GDP deflator
    $3,459.73 using the unskilled wage
    $4,577.43 using the GDP per capita
    $14,789.21 using the relative share of GDP

    Ouch. As a relative share of GDP, the train trip was extremely expensive. However, it wasn’t too cheap using the CPI adjusted figure. Today’s cost of flying from NYC Laguardia to New Orleans? Travelocity has reasonably timed flights for around $160. Travel time from NYC to NO is about 2.5 hours.

I’m not going to complain this week about higher prices to fly out of Dulles since Independence Air ceased operations.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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