Flying the friendly skies is becoming increasingly crowded and expensive

The skies are becoming more expensive, uncomfortable and crowded for many fliers as airline profits skyrocket.

U.S. airlines earned $12.7 billion in net profits in 2013, a huge increase from $98 million a year earlier as carriers jam more passengers into fewer flights and collect fees for services that in years past had been provided for free. They netted more than $3 billion in baggage charges alone in 2013.

"Of course, I would like to not have to pay for anything but that's not realistic either," says frequent flier Arthurine Payton in an interview with CBS News.

Data cited by Bloomberg Businessweek indicated that fewer flights arrived on time in 2013. More bags were also misplaced or lost. Complaints, however, dropped overall indicating that passengers have become used to the new reality of air travel

To make matters worse, ticket prices are rising as airlines pay off billions of dollars in debt that they have accumulated in recent years. Frontier Airlines made headlines recently when it began charging passengers to put carry-on luggage in the overhead bins. Travelers planning to book their summer vacations or business trips can expect more of the same.

"The entire economic formula to make the airlines money is to fill up the seats at the highest price," says airline analyst Bob Harrell.

  • Jonathan Berr On Twitter»

    Jonathan Berr is an award-winning journalist and podcaster based in New Jersey whose main focus is on business and economic issues.