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Flying in Australia is easy compared to US

July 3, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Attempts by airlines in the US to fill aircraft and increase their profits are punishing domestic travellers there.

Reports on the US situation make flying in Australia seem a relatively pain-free and pleasurable experience.

Figures for this March show that US airlines had 2.3% fewer flights in the month than a year earlier, even though passenger numbers rose by 1%, according to data from the US Bureau of Sidebar-Banner-GTM_Specs--250x250-ATransportation Statistics.

The result is that a lot of planes are very full and many passengers are being bumped off flights they had booked for.

Airlines are operating more planes at capacity and finding new ways to extract money from every flight and passenger, according to airline consultants interviewed by the Tulsa World newspaper in Oklahoma.

American Airlines is looking at adding extra seats to the MD-80 and B737 aircraft it uses on domestic flights, to squeeze in a few more passengers. Leg-room could consequentially be reduced by up to 3 inches, or about 7.5cm, analysts say.

US budget airlines are always trying to work out ways of shrinking leg-room – and this in an era when passengers are getting bigger, some of them mountainously so.

Meanwhile, free baggage, pillows and blankets are disappearing fast from economy class, along with civilised touches like in-flight meals served to all passengers.

Airlines charge tourists for checking in bags, carrying on bags, in-flight Wi-Fi, early boarding, meals, pillows and blankets, depending on airline.

Boarding has become slower as more people carry on more bags. Airlines are milking this situation by charging up to USD 40 for early check-in and boarding. Board early and you get to stuff your bags into the overhead lockers ahead of your fellow passengers.

The squeeze on passengers seems to be working for the airlines. US airlines made a USD 5.3 billion profit in the most recent year, which is USD $400 million better than a year earlier, according to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Carriers are buying newer planes, which will improve the experience.

But you’ll still get charged for a blanket.

Written by : Peter Needham

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