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New Year to bring fewer flights

Demand may be high, but at least six U.S. airlines are planning to cut their domestic schedules in January. That’s according to a USA Today article, which reports that American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways have fewer seats available in a year-over-year comparison.

The article offers a number of reasons for the drop, including higher fuel prices, a shift away from competitive domestic routes towards more lucrative international routes, and in at least one case, because of plane maintenance.

What does it mean for air passengers flying in early 2008? Well, 72,000 fewer seats for one thing, and during a time when flights are typically pretty full. And that, of course, means it’s a seller’s market, and prices and selection may start reflecting that pretty soon.

The full article is a good read, packed with more insight into what passengers should expect in early 2008.

In other capacity news, Reuters reported that Southwest has announced plans to cut capacity growth in 2008 because of concerns that a weaker U.S. economy could stifle travel demand.

Remember when we used to just complain about how airline employees were surly and we missed the free food? In the face of higher prices, delays so serious that the government has gotten involved, and reports about unreliable safety technologies, don’t you sort of long for the days when you could just be frustrated about not getting that second bag of in-flight pretzels?

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