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VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press

[AP Photo: J. David Ake]

AIRFARES CONTINUE TO RISE, UP 12 PERCENT SINCE `09
 
NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of flying continues to climb, with the average domestic roundtrip ticket, including tax, reaching $363.42 last year, up more than $7 from the prior year.
 
The 2 percent increase outpaced inflation, which stood at 1.5 percent for the year, and represents the fourth consecutive year fliers have faced price hikes.
 
Airfares have risen nearly 12 percent since the recessionary low in 2009, when adjusted for inflation, according to an Associated Press analysis of fare data from the Airlines Reporting Corp., which processes ticket transactions for airlines and more than 9,400 travel agencies, including websites such as Expedia and Orbitz.
 
The price of flying has gone up as airlines have cut unprofitable routes, packed more passengers into planes and have merged with one another, providing travelers with fewer options.
 
Today, 84 percent of seats are filled with paying passengers, up from 82 percent in 2009.
 
"Anyone traveling today will know that those flights are full," says Chuck Thackston, managing director of data and analytics for the Airlines Reporting Corp. "Just through supply and demand, those fares will go up."
 
And none of this factors in the bevy of extra fees travelers now face for checking bags, getting extra legroom or even purchasing a blanket, meal or pair of headphones. The typical traveler pays an additional $50 roundtrip to check a single suitcase. Those fees, introduced in 2008 to offset losses from rising fuel prices, now bring in $3.4 billion a year for U.S. airlines and have helped them return consistent annual profits for the last four years.
 
FACEBOOK ADDS TRENDING TOPICS TO SITE
 
NEW YORK (AP) -- In a move that echoes Twitter, Facebook will add trending topics to its website to let users know what other users are posting about at the moment, whether it's the death of a world leader or the Golden Globe awards.
 
Users in the U.S., U.K., India, Canada and Australia will start to see a list of trending topics on the right side of their Facebook pages in coming weeks. The feature, which is not visible on the mobile version of Facebook, will be available in more countries at a later date.
 
Facebook said Thursday that the topics people see will be tailored to the user's interests and location.
 
'HUSTLE,' 'GRAVITY' LEAD OSCARS WITH 10 NODS EACH
 
The Academy Awards appear to be the three-horse race many expected they would be, with "Gravity," "American Hustle" and "12 Years a Slave" all receiving a heap of nominations in an Oscar field that blends otherworldly endurance with glamorous escapism.
 
The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards, announced Thursday morning in Beverly Hills, Calif., were led by the 3-D space odyssey "Gravity" and the con-artist caper "American Hustle," both with 10 nominations. The harrowing historical epic "12 Years a Slave" trailed closely with nine nominations.
 
All were among the nine films nominated for best picture. The other nominees are "Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Her," "Nebraska," "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Philomena."

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