2017 Travel Trend Forecast by CheapAir

Check out CheapAir’s 2017 travel trend forecast below:
 
1. New airfare options –  In 2017, airlines will continue their efforts to “de-commoditize” their offerings. More than ever, travelers will be free to choose from budget, low frills airlines, or, for a little more, a more premium experience on a full service carrier. Even within a single airline, there will be differentiated experiences. By next year, Delta, American, and United will all offer a menu of fare options — deeply discounted Basic Economy for those who care mostly about price and can live without advance seat assignments and the ability to change; standard economy for those who want to pick a seat and have a little more flexibility; and premium economy for those who want a little extra leg room. 

2. Introduction of AI – 2017 will not be the year that the robots take over travel bookings, but consumers will begin to see the impact of artificial intelligence implementation to the travel booking and support experience as airlines and online travel agencies incorporate AI. 

3. New payment options – Offering consumers a convenient, more comfortable online experience from search to payment is always trending in the Internet era. We’ve recently begun accepting monthly payments to appeal to the customer who may not have (or even want) a credit card. We also expect to see more travel retailers accept more forms of digital payment like Apple Pay or Bitcoin, which we have been accepting since 2014.

4. Mobile growth – Today close to two thirds of all U.S. mobile phone users have a Smartphone. The airlines and airports continue to filter development dollars into apps to help us with way-finding, flight scheduling and even on-board amenities. Customers are using their Smartphones as an extension of themselves, so the airlines and travel agencies will continue to make improvements that help personalize the travel experience and impact travel ease, logistics and amenities.

 5. Travel agents are back in fashion – The traditional travel agent is making a comeback – all the way back from the brink of extinction. Somewhat surprisingly, it turns out that Millennial shoppers are helping with the travel agent renaissance. Knowledgeable agents are carving out a lucrative niche catering to busy young people who rely on travel agents’ destination and logistics expertise to cut through the online noise and streamline their experience. 

6. Flights to Cuba – Commercial flights have finally resumed to Cuba, and there are now affordable options from virtually any U.S. gateway to get you there. Round trip flights to Cuba no longer cost hundreds of dollars on a charter, but will make Cuba accessible for many Americans at a much more comfortable price point. As the only online retailer selling these flights, we’ve seen an uptick in interest and sales to Cuba and expect to see bookings continue to increase as the U.S. traveler becomes more comfortable with Cuba as a destination.

 7. Self-service in airports – Less sexy, but always hugely important to travelers, self-service kiosks will continue to automate bag drops, printing of boarding passes and even some elements of security checkpoints. International travelers to Europe have been experiencing this for years, but the United States is still playing catch-up. 2017 might be the year even smaller, regional airports take the self-service plunge.

 8. Onboard experience/amenities/entertainment – In-flight entertainment will continue to be an area where airlines can improve the in-flight experience. Lufthansa is out in front with an aim to improve the overlooked audio experience. The carrier will be offering cinema quality sound in 2017, regardless of the headphones used. Air France is rolling out a Netflix-like experience for customers to utilize. You simply download their app and can then book and download your in-flight entertainment prior to boarding. There are also airlines testing out in-flight navigation improvements (including timings) where you can pull up a map and put in your final destination. The improvements allow customers to see what time they might be sitting down for dinner with loved ones while still mid-flight.

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