Airlines are filling even more seats, explaining why cheaper fuel isn't leading to lower fares

Associated Press

Forget about an empty middle seat on your next flight.

The government says the average passenger load on flights by U.S. airlines rose to 83.4 percent in October, up from 83.3 percent the previous two months. The figures are seasonally adjusted.

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The Bureau of Transportation Statistics said Thursday that October was the ninth-highest monthly rate, one point below the record set in January and February 2014.

Five of the top 10 all-time months for airliner loads were in 2014. That strong demand for tickets explains why airlines feel no pressure to cut fares even though prices for jet fuel — their biggest expense — have fallen sharply.