Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Our Planes Are Fuller Than Ever!
May 2005 just set a new record for airplane utilization. The "Big Six" US
carriers (American, United, Delta, Northwest, Continental, and US Airways) have
managed to fill their seat capacity 79.2%. An amazing number, considering
that these carriers also serve less popular routes than some of the smaller
carriers. And this is despite price increases.
For travellers, this isn't truly great. To achieve such high utilization,
many flights have to be overbooked and people get bumped off the flight. For
frequent flyers like myself, this means that upgrades get rarer and rarer, as no
seats remain open in the ever-shrinking business class section. Also, carriers
achieve these utilization numbers by dropping flights. Compared to May 2000,
airlines are now flying 25% less seats (and that despite many carriers packing
more rows of seats into their planes again), reducing traveller options.
As a result, airtravel has become even less comfortable and affordable than
it used to be, a trend I certainly would not have predicted that
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