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Crowded planes this summer force fliers to book early

Crowded planes this summer force fliers to book early
A record high of 222 million passengers are expected to fly U.S. airlines this summer. (Josh Noel / Chicago Tribune)

Thanks to growing demand for air travel, 222 million passengers are expected to fly on U.S. carriers this summer, the highest total on record. But with airlines adding extra flights very sparingly, vacationers are forced to book travel plans extra early.

Alex Cosmas, chief scientist for the McLean, Va., consultant Booz Allen Hamilton, crunched airline data to conclude that the competition for seats has pushed booking trends up by a week compared with the previous year.

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For example, window and aisle seats, on average, are being booked three days earlier this summer than last summer, the analysis found.

And the traditionally unpopular middle seats are 34% less likely to remain empty this summer compared with last year.

The good news, Cosmas said, is that travelers have become more savvy and more reliant on mobile apps and online search engines to find the best travel deals.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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