Is it the fuel? Not really. Even though giant passenger jets do guzzle down fuel at a ridiculous 0.67 miles per gallon (they need 1.5 gallons of jet fuel for every mile travelled) there are so many people on a plane that the fuel cost gets slashed to a much more reasonable price. Per person, the fuel efficiency is more like 104.7 miles per gallon. That’s good! So why is flying so expensive? It’s everything else.
And there’s a lot of everything else: a thousand different kind of taxes to pay, a pilot’s wages, the crew cost, airport fees, aeroplane cost, maintenance, the non-flying part of flying (the airline’s cost of running business), and so on. All that can turn the £2.50 of fuel it takes for a person on an aeroplane to get from NYC to Washington DC into £70 of “everything else.” And that figure is an estimate on the low end that doesn’t even include whatever profit the airline would like to get.
Watch the video by Wendover Productions breaking down the cost of flying. It’s a lot of little bits here and there that adds up rather quickly.