It may feel like every flight these days is packed to the gills — and that’s certainly the way airlines want it — but nearly 20% of seats on American domestic flights go unfilled.
According to newly published numbers from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the passenger load factor for flights in the U.S. is 83.8%.
While lower than you may expect, that makes U.S. flights the most crowded in the world.
China isn’t far behind with a load factor of 80.3%, Brazil climbed from 71.8% in 2012 to 76.% in 2013, and Japan reported by far the lowest figure, just 64.3%. The global rate for the domestic market is 79.9%.
That doesn’t mean that 20% of seats on every flight are empty, naturally — so next time you fly home for Thanksgiving, don’t expect to have any extra elbow room.
Other news from IATA that is good for the airline industry: Passenger demand climbed 5.2% between 2012 and 2013, with especially fast growth in the Middle East and Asia. Unsurprisingly, growth in the developed U.S. and European markets was slower.
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