By Matt Meltzer
There’re a lot of problems with flying; at least 99 of them in fact. And many of those problems were things we’d never have envisioned would be issues a few years ago (Seriously, did you EVER think you’d see the day when people threw down over a reclined seat? Like, literally punch each other mid-air?).
But some people did see the problems coming. Like Tom Spagnola, who’s spent 30 years in the travel business, founded Cheapseats.com in 1987 (he launched a dot com in the ’80s, so you KNOW he’s psychic), and is now Senior VP of supplier relations at CheapOair.com. Which is why we asked him what the biggest travel trends in 2015 were going to be, and then figured out why they spell bad news for everyone.
More families will be traveling together
Plummeting gas costs and improved consumer confidence in the economy mean fares should drop by 5%, Spagnola predicts. And when that happens, more families will opt to fly on vacation. If you’re a fan of crying babies, strollers at security, and 7-year-olds who think they’re Neymar using your seat back as a soccer ball, this is fantastic news.
Everything is going to become a packageable “option”
And not packages with fun options, like Breaking Bad On Demand or an open bar on the beverage cart. Rather, options like “seats” and “carry-on bags.” Having already introduced previously included amenities a la carte, Spagnola says carriers like Spirit will now come full circle and bundle those options into a prepaid fare; essentially, what was known in the ’80s as “the cost of your ticket.”
Amateur hour at TSA will last ALL YEAR!
Credit: Arina P Habich/Shutterstock.com
Low fares and increased capacity by low-cost carriers means people who had been priced out of flying before can now join you in the surly skies. So get ready for a deluge of people who’ve never been through the security line. Time for PreCheck, maybe?
Hotel rates will increase
As there will be more people flying, hotels will have higher rates of occupancy, and fewer of those “last-minute, empty-room deals” you love so much. Meaning the mysterious, unnamed “3-star near the center of the city” that ended up being a Super 8 will now cost $249 a night.
International flights will be just as cramped and miserable as domestic ones
Credit: Flickr/Jon gos
Now that RyanAir has started flying across the pond, other low-cost Euro carriers will follow suit. Spagnola predicts that “their expanding globally is going to revolutionize what people expect in travel.” But not in a good way. In order to keep up, big carriers will make cutbacks, and soon you’ll be enjoying the same amount of leg room on a Miami-London flight as you did from Miami to Tampa.
Airports will be 7% more crowded
Spagnola predicts that airlines will increase the number of flights they offer by 7% this year. Which means more seats for passengers and, thus, more people in airports. And more people driving to the airport, checking in, going through security, and not knowing what they want to order when they get to the front of that super-long 6 a.m. Starbucks line.
The rich will get richer, the poor will get leg cramps
Credit: Virgin Atlantic
Because the profit margin is so much higher on business and first-class tickets, Spagnola says airlines will be adding more of those seats – and with more impressive amenities like showers and full suites. Meanwhile, they’ll “reconfigure” the rest of the plane in order not to cut back on the number of coach seats. So, more showers for the guys in front, less leg room for the guys in back.
You won’t be getting ANY upgrades
And don’t think you’ll be sitting up there, Mr. Platinum Gold Diamond Elite! Since airlines have realized their biggest profits are made on business and first-class seats, they’re going to focus on “upselling” coach passengers rather than rewarding their loyal frequent fliers. This should make flight attendants really happy.
The boarding gate area will start to resemble a bus station
According to Spagnola, Frontier Airlines will expand 14% in the first half of 2015, and Spirit will expand 26%. Which is kind of like hearing Walmart will be opening up in your favorite shopping mall.
In case it wasn’t clear, there will be even MORE people on the plane
Just to hammer it all home, increased capacity means more “completely full flights.” Which means less overhead bin space, longer boarding times, and a middle seat occupied by someone other than your laptop. So… bon voyage?
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