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Make your flight plan: Busy summer for air travel predicted

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The skies will be more crowded this summer than at any time in the past six years as more vacationers plan to travel by plane.

The U.S. airlines' trade and lobbying group Airlines for America predicted a 1.5 percent increase in the number of airline passengers over last summer. The group predicts that 210 million passengers will fly on U.S. carriers during the traditional summer season that begins on June 1 and concludes on Aug. 31. The forecast finds almost 30 million travelers will travel to international destinations, an all-time high. Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan are the top five nonstop international destinations.

What about prices? The Associated Press notes that industry watchers expect a slight increase this summer. The story adds that there has been a recent 5 percent drop in fuel prices. That, along with increased fees for services like baggage handling and reservation changes, helped the nine publicly traded U.S. airlines post a $401 million net profit in the first quarter, traditionally their slowest.

Minnesota travelers will have a new summer option for European travel. German airline Condor begins a direct flight between Terminal 2 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International and Frankfurt on June 26, 2014. When the new service is launched, Frankfurt will be the fifth European destination with direct air service from MSP. Others are Amsterdam, London, Paris and Reykjavik.

Earlier this month, Delta announced increased European coverage from its hubs in New York and Atlanta, with expanded service to Zurich, Rome, Paris and Amsterdam.

Wherever you're flying, don't expect to find last minute bargains. A story headlined "The truth behind 6 air travel myths" on the FareCompare travel website said that airlines used to discount unsold tickets as departure times neared. "Once upon a time, this used to be true but not since airlines became capacity experts. Now they know when people want to fly and where, so they can fill up planes without a single empty middle seat (or at least very few). This means there are no more last-minute steals."

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