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Airport Security Hassles Benefit Niche Market Airlines

Travel analysts say flying business class is becoming more attractive as heightened airport security makes traveling more of a hassle. As VOA's Mil Arcega reports business class-only airlines are gaining new customers.

Despite long lines, delays and cancellations, airline passengers are paying more to travel. And they are making do with less.

A security guard calls out: "You cannot take beverages, shampoos, suntan lotion, creams..."

With new airport security restrictions in place, some passengers say flying around the world has become more frustrating and less glamorous.

Due to higher fuel costs and reduced profits, airline analysts say ticket prices are about 10 percent higher than they were last summer. And with fewer planes flying fewer routes, passengers are looking for alternatives.

Eos is one of two new airlines flying business class-only flights to London. The airline boasts having only 48 seats on a plane built to hold 220. Maxjet, another fledgling carrier, has three times the legroom as regular coach with 100 seats on a plane built to hold twice as many.

For some passengers, the contrast is striking.

"Night and day. It's comfortable,” says one passenger. Adds another, "There is a lot less stress involved. They really pay attention to all the small things."

Eos offers flat bed seats for about $3,000 round trip -- less than half the usual business class fare. Maxjet is offering the same service for $1,500 dollars.

Kevin Doyle, senior editor at Conde Nast magazine says there is a reason why both airlines are making money. "I think it has to do with the public's desire for comfort and value. I think it is that simple."

And travel analysts say established airlines are paying attention. United Airlines, which posted a profit this year, recently withdrew a fare increase on its business class tickets. And two more airlines have announced their intentions to fly business class-only flights next year.