Airlines Will Be Stuffed for Thanksgiving

ABC News’ Matt Hosford reports:

Don’t count on an empty seat next to you if you are flying over the Thanksgiving holiday.

 The Air Transport Association, which represents the majority of domestic airlines, says it expects 23.2 million passengers to fly over the holiday. While that is a 2 percent decline over last year, planes will still be packed.

“While demand is down from last year and remains well below the 2006 peak, passengers still should expect full flights during the Thanksgiving holiday travel season as airlines have begun to reduce capacity and limit the number of seats available for sale due in part to rising cost pressures,” said ATA vice president and chief economist John Heimlich in a press release.

“Based on published airline schedules, these cuts are expected to continue through the winter,” he added.

 The crunch comes as airlines have reduced capacity in the face of higher operating costs. In particular, Heimlich says that fuel costs for airlines are up more than 38 percent over the past year. For fliers, this all means there are fewer seats available.

 If you are flying for Thanksgiving, the ATA says the busiest days will be Friday, Nov. 18, Sunday, Nov. 27, and Monday, Nov. 28.