Top travel predictions for 2014
Here are some highlights from Cheapflights.com’s top travel predictions for 2014:
- The Rise of the Super Airline?– For travelers in the U.S., one of the biggest stories of the past year is the rise of the super airline. With the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, United Airlines’ rule as the largest airline ended less than a year into its new life. Last March, Continental Airlines was fully integrated into United — the fruit of two years’ worth of work to blend the airlines. It will take American and US Airways time to combine their resources as well, but consumers can expect changes to start happening early in the New Year.
With United, Delta and the new American all truly super sized, these large airlines are going to be very busy competing with one another with a lot of focus on international travel and amenities like lay flat beds in first class, even on domestic flights. For the price-conscious traveler, there may be less to love on those major airlines as nickel and diming for basics, like a few more inches of leg room, becomes even more prevalent.
However, this battle among the power airlines will likely leave room for newer and smaller players competing on base price to emerge, for established “budget” airlines like Southwest and JetBlue to gain even more ground and for regional airlines like Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines to expand the number of markets they serve.
- Emerging and re-emerging travel hot spots -?In 2013, a number of new travel hot spots began to emerge (or re-emerge). While domestic travel is still by far the most popular in the United States, we did find that people are increasingly including the US territories in their vacation plans. Searches to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, jumped 40% while those to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, were up 34%. Puerto Rico also saw a 10% spike in popularity.
Good budget airline service can also spike the popularity of a destination. Two prime examples: Denver, Colo., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. Denver is not only a great city and jumping off point for a mountain getaway but also a strategic low-cost carrier hub. Southwest, Frontier, JetBlue and Spirit all serve Denver International and the competition works in the traveler’s favor. So it’s not a surprise that Denver saw an 17% increase in travel searches for the year. Likewise, Myrtle Beach’s small but growing airport now offers non-stop flights to 25 different cities — the majority offered by low-cost carriers Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Airlines. That serves as pricing pressure the flights US Airways, United and Delta offer into Myrtle Beach too, leading to a 20% increase in travelers looking to visit this southern beach town.
For 2014, we see signs U.S. travelers will continue to chase warm weather and sunshine, look for new bargain destinations and travel for events. Here are some destination trends to watch for:
- Caribbean distinction?-?Images of crystal blue water and white sandy beaches are the ubiquitous day dream of the Caribbean. However the islands have a mix of cultures, climates and currencies that make it worthwhile to do your homework before you book. Some recent changes, especially in the Dutch Antilles, mean some key island countries have new-found autonomy. As a result, they have — and will — continue to ramp up how they market themselves. Be prepared to see an increase in other parts of the Caribbean pushing what makes them stand out. Price will be one point but so will ease of access (for example; Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands with no passport), travel style (night life versus beach views, family versus adventure, chic versus laid back) and activities (diving and bare boating — or cruise ships and shops).
- The year of Brazil?- With the Olympics on the horizon and the World Cup coming this summer (June 12 to July 13), Brazil is working hard to be a welcoming host country to sports fans and tourists in general. Already a popular destination, especially during Carnival, Brazil is building out infrastructure for its major upcoming events. Even so, capacity is tight. If you are planning to visit during the World Cup, act now. Even during the offseason, it’s advisable to book four months in advance.
- Paying homage in Europe?-?2014 is the 100th?anniversary of the start of World War I so this may be a year for history buffs and family members to visit the battlefields to reconnect with and remember loved ones who sacrificed across Europe in the “war to end all wars.”