Airplane Mode: An Odd and Unsettling Era in Air Travel

"The fun went out of it a long time ago," said one Consumer Reports aviation adviser

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If it feels like that empty middle seat on airplanes is always full, you're not imagining things. There are fewer empty seats than ever as airlines increase their profits, NBC News reports, just one of many ways the experience of flying is changing.

Travelers stress can begin the minute they set foot in an airport, and only compound from there. Minor indignities, like being nickel and dimed for things that were once free, are piling onto mega-stressors: long delays, canceled flights, being held on the tarmac.

Nearly half of Americans, including a majority of people over 45, said in an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll that air travel has gotten worse in the last decade.

"There is a tremendous sense of diminished expectations on behalf of passengers," says Bill McGee, an aviation adviser at Consumer Reports. "The fun went out of it a long time ago. Most of us are just looking for civility and to get through it in the most painless way possible."

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