WASHINGTON -

A government watchdog confirms what airline passengers are finding when they try to book a flight: Service to communities of all sizes is declining, but especially to small and medium airports.

The Government Accountability Office told Congress that there are fewer flights and fewer seats available at airports of all sizes than there were seven years ago. Smaller destinations were particularly affected, with flights down as much as 24 percent since 2007. Flights have declined 9 percent and seats 7 percent at large hub airports.

Only government-subsidized air service to rural communities has been increasing, and that's largely a reflection of congressional efforts to prevent some small airports from losing commercial service entirely.

Mergers and high fuel prices are part of the reason.

America's best airlines of 2014

Published On: May 15 2013 01:03:42 PM EDT   Updated On: May 15 2014 06:00:00 AM EDT

These airlines are tops when it comes to customer satisfaction.

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iStock / mkurtbas

Despite rising airline ticket prices and fees for everything from checked bags to changed flights, airline passengers are increasingly satisfied with their flights. Really! According to J.D. Power & Associates' new 2014 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, customer satisfaction with North American airlines is at its highest level since 2006.