The other day James Fallows posted a fascinating chart showing that total Available Seat Miles on U.S. passenger planes have tumbled over the past decade even as the population has grown:
Consequently, it doesn’t just seem like your flights are getting more crowded lately. They are, in fact, getting more crowded. Among other things, this leads to more delays for travelers, which is annoying. But the more efficient flights with fewer vacancies seem to be powering airlines back to profitability.