Airfare elasticities are crucial for policy instruments for the stakeholders of tourism industry. Modellers attempting to estimate these elasticities face several challenges in the absence of microeconomic data on consumer preferences. The aim of this paper is to offer a critical analysis of the practice of computing airfare elasticities from tourism demand studies. It identifies and discusses potential sources of measurement errors in the data and drawbacks that investigators face and assesses their implications for the estimated parameters in the respective models. The use of price of crude oil and distance between origin and destination as proxies for transportation costs are evaluated. It is recommended that authors be more systematic in reporting their results. They need to comment on the limitations of their elasticity estimates since these have repercussions on policy recommendations made based on their results. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.