Monday-Morning Moving: 6 Infallible Travel Predictions For 2017

Photo credit: Joshua Earle via Unsplash.
Photo credit: Joshua Earle via Unsplash.

 

‘Tis the season for list stories – or, as they are so gracefully termed in the trades, “listicles.” Most listicklers are taking a look back at the year that was, and are concluding that on the whole, they’d rather be in Philadelphia.

However, being the contrarians that we are, we’d like to take this time to look ahead at what you can reasonably expect from the travel scene in 2017. Without going all “Rogue One” and issuing massive spoilers on our upcoming “State of Travel Insurance 2017” report, here’s what we’re seeing right now that has the potential to dominate the travel headlines in 2017.

  1. Greater distance between the haves and have-nots on any given flight. United’s announcement of “basic economy” fares is just the first salvo. Airlines are creating a heavily stratified hierarchy of travelers, from the ultra-pampered first-plus-class traveler who doesn’t mind dropping $1,500 on a cross-country flight to the meek college student with the clothes on her back, a box lunch in her lap, and her knees to her chin. For the latter traveler, everything is an added cost; for the former, the legroom reaches to the captain’s cabin and the sky is literally the limit. In fairness to the airlines, this is a model old as travel; in fairness to the budget flyer, “no frills” and “comfort” are not mutually exclusive.
  2. Frequent-flyer programs move toward a “get-what-you-pay-for” model. We feel bad for our points-and-miles friends, as they’re having to deal with airlines changing the rules of the game midstream, but by the same token, the rules of the game were awfully convoluted. Airlines are not in a position where they have to give away anything, especially pretend points that add up to free flights that an airline could have easily charged for. From now on, money into the airlines is going to equal points out from the airlines, and there are going to be fewer ways around it. Without multiple options to game the system, will frequent-flyer miles go the way of green stamps? You heard it here first.
  3. Tougher ID rules. We’re already seen it with some travelers to Canada. Now the TSA is getting into the act, issuing a new set of ID guidelines slated to take effect in 2018. As of now, nine states – Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington – don’t comply with the new guidelines, meaning they’re going to have to change their IDs, and soon. And that timetable may actually be moved up a few months, because we also predict …
  4. More terrorist activity that affects travel. Not trying to put a damper on anyone’s travel plans, but a more unsettled world picture means more acts of terror directed at travelers – not necessarily in the United States (though that certainly is a possibility), but definitely worldwide. What can you do? Travel unafraid, for starters. Travel smart. And take out travel insurance (like our ExactCare) with trip-interruption coverage that includes acts of terrorism.
  5. No letup in the sharing economy. Airbnb wants to dominate travel lodgings – and experiential travel. Uber wants to dominate travel transportation. Hopper, an app that’s often mentioned in the same breath as the other two though it really doesn’t share anything, wants to dominate flights. If you haven’t used these disruptive travel tools yet, you probably will in 2017. Speaking of which …
  6. Some upstart airlines will finally start to disrupt domestic travel, though not nearly to the extent we wish they would. Norwegian getting approved to fly out of Ireland is a good start, but as some astute observers have pointed out, it doesn’t change all that much. And as long as Norwegian isn’t approved to fly from Boston to San Antonio, most travelers are not going to reap the benefits of the disruption. So what is going to change things domestically? Southwest doing what it does, only in more markets (though it needs to remember to get permission if it’s going to fly to new places). JetBlue getting into fare wars with anyone. And just one more carrier – WestJet, maybe? – getting into the game. Not all those things are going to happen in 2017, though the groundwork will definitely be laid. Which leads to our final prediction …
  7. More travel insurance will be bought. And why not? Did you actually expect us to say that less travel insurance will be bought? With more people going more places into a world that grows more uncertain daily, travel insurance is reasonable, affordable protection. BHTP plans to be in the thick of it in 2017 with more products, better products, and great service. And if nothing else gives you hope for 2017 travelwise, that should.

 

 

Author: Kit Kiefer

As content engineer for Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, I have one of the world's great jobs. Not only do I get to write about travel, but I get to edit the work of fantastically talented contributors from around the world. Plus I get all the maple syrup I can drink.