(WMC-TV) - You're not imagining it. Memphis had the highest airfares in the nation for three months straight.
That means travelers pay more to fly out of Memphis than New York, Chicago or Los Angeles and those high airfares are also affecting the city's economy.
Airfare at Memphis International is much higher than the domestic average and it's been like that every quarter since at least 1995.
"I can fly into Beijing cheaper than I can fly into Memphis," said frequent flyer Patricia Montgomery.
According to Federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics data Memphis' airfare averages more than $476, making it the most expensive in the United States.
"We're not happy about," said Larry Cox, CEO of the Memphis International Airport. "We don't have direct control over it. It's just a fact of life."
Cox said the airlines are facing increased fuel costs creating unprofitable flying conditions. That has led some airlines to reduce capacity which gives carriers more pricing power.
"There's less supply and you have the same amount of demand, the price of the product goes up," said Cox. "So we've gotten caught in a real squeeze here."
Travel agents suggest shopping around for the best price and warn that it's never in the same spot all the time.
"It's all about economics," said Vicki Rush, of A&I Travel. "Airlines always want to charge as much money as possible while selling all the seats on the plane."
Airport executives say they are selling Memphis to other airlines in hopes of dropping the average cost.
"We hope to see that change in the future," said Cox.
And they hope the airport's ranking on the "expensive" list goes from No. 1, to something more affordable
Southwest already operates four flights a day to Atlanta.
Airport officials say it doesn't yet have a single operating certificate that allows it to co-mingle planes. However, its presence should increase competition and may drop prices.
There is some good news for travelers flying in and out of Memphis; the airport was ranked as the nation's second safest earlier this year.