21 SEP 2011: The look of air travel for the immediate future – crowded planes and higher prices as high fuel prices and an uncertain economy cause carriers to cut back on flights.

Delta, American, United and Continental have all announced flight reductions of up to 5%.

Even Southwest Airlines said it will hold off on expanding its fleet because of the weak economy. It bought AirTran earlier this year, which expanded Southwest’s size by one-fourth.

“Planes have never been so full. There was barely a spare seat this summer, and the next few months should be the same” reported the Associated Press.

"There are some days on some flights when there are simply no physical seats left," said Jim Reichart, vice president of marketing and sales for Frontier, which sold 91% of its seats in July and August.

"Strong passenger demand seems to be defying the daily economic headlines," said Rick Seaney of FareCompare.com. "Couple that with fewer seats for the rest of the year and you have a recipe for higher ticket prices."

“Airlines (recently) have increased fares for the 10th time this year, zeroing in on pricey, last-minute tickets bought most often by corporate travelers,” said USA Today.

Airline fares increased 1.1% in August, the biggest jump since March, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics. For the past 12 months, fares rose 9.5% over the same period last year.

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