Last week I provided you with 15 of my 60 annual predictions. Today you get 15 more. During the past seventeen years, 73% of my predictions have come true! Here’s more of what I think will happen in 2020 (part 2/4).
CLICK HERE to see Steve’s first 15 predictions.
#16- Those dastardly hotel resort fees will magically disappear in 2020 – One of the most hated fees in the travel industry are the hidden resort fees of $25 to $75 that many hotels charge you when you check into a hotel. There are currently two major lawsuits pending against Marriott and Hilton that are challenging these fees. There has also been legislation introduced to outlaw the fees. I think the stars are aligning to get this done in 2020. Three cheers for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Petersen who filed a lawsuit against Hilton and Nebraska Representative Jeff Fortenberry who filed a new bill that requires resort fees to be listed in the rate of the hotel when booking.
#17- You will not have to pay to use the restroom on flights in 2020 – I say this “tongue-in-cheek” as all these fees the airline’s charge are getting ridiculous.
#18- Yeti will replace plastic bottles in airports –Last year the San Francisco International Airport banned plastic water bottles from being sold in the airport. Instead, they have put in 100 water refill stations and demand that travelers use refillable bottles if they want to drink water during a layover. My guess is that more and more travelers will purchase a reusable water bottle (Yeti) with a free refill (I hope). In the long run, buying a $30 Yeti seems like a lot of money but when you look at paying $4 a bottle for water at the airport it only takes 8 bottles to pay for that fashionable pink Yeti. Plus seeing all those plastic water bottles all over the world along the road does make you want to do something to help our environment.
#19- There will be so many emotional-support service dogs on planes that airlines will convert the last row of seats into a kennel – Over the last year, there has been a stampede of dogs, cats and even peacocks entering planes as emotional support service animals. It is starting to get way out of hand. My comments about a kennel onboard the airplane are of course very tongue- in- cheek. However, there is a big scam going on where passengers are getting their doctors to give them a letter saying they need an emotional- support service animal to travel to overcome their fears. I understand that some people have serious medical or mental difficulties and need this assistance. However, I think many people are just using this for a way to transport their dogs on a flight for free. I think the airlines need to be much more aggressive and come up with tighter standards before the planes turn into zoos.
#20- Amazon will enter the travel selling space in 2020 – Amazon wants to capture the world and the travel industry is one of the biggest industries in the world. I expect Amazon to use all that data they have about you to start marketing travel services to you in 2020. I think I might join Amazon Prime and at the same time list my wife Marie as a third party product and see if I can get FREE prime delivery of her to Hawaii for our next trip.
#21- TSA Pre-Check lines will get longer and slower in 2020 – As they add millions more to this express lane security line service you can expect the lines to be longer and slower in the year ahead as they are not adding additional lines or personnel to keep up with demand. Four times in 2019 I saw the TSA Pre-Check lines were longer than the normal lines. I hope I am wrong on this one.
#22- Free WiFi is a year away on airplanes – For the last year Delta has tried to pioneer offering free in-flight WiFi for their customers. Well, it turns out that the current technology they are using for WiFi service does not have the bandwidth so that if they offered the service for free it would crash (WiFi not the plane) from the overload. I hope that Delta continues to push forward with this idea. Delta was also one of the first airlines to offer free texting service which the other airlines are still very late jumping into this service.
#23- Death of the seat-back TV screens will come this year – First the airlines promoted seat-back TV screens as an added new service to pass the time away on your flight. Now that everyone has an iPhone or iPad or computer when flying the airlines are promoting downloading their airline apps and use that to watch your favorite movie. Bottom line is that this year the new planes that come online will not have seatback TV screens as this saves the airlines a lot of money and they will argue that you still have access on your phone to this service.
#24- Americans will stampede to Hawaii this year as the airlines continue with low prices and fare wars from the west coast – Last year Southwest Airlines started service to Hawaii. Other airlines want to make it painful for Southwest to capture market share so I expect great airfare sales will continue from the west coast of the U.S. Expect hotel prices in Hawaii to stay high however as more demand brings higher prices.
#25- IRS will drop vehicle reimbursement rate to 57.5 cents a mile – The Internal Revenue Service has just announced the new vehicle reimbursement rate will decrease from 58 cents a mile in 2019 to 57.5 cents in 2020.
#26- One airline will start offering wireless charging stations on the seat trays of the plane – Someone is going to figure out how to jump past adding plugins at every seat for people to charge their phone and simply add wireless charging stations to the seat trays. Easy Peasy.
#27- Restrooms at airports will slowly get better – I swear that the architects who design the bathrooms at airports have never flown. Most of the airport bathrooms have the smallest size and layout for the massive wall of people who unload after a 3-hour flight and run directly toward the closest restroom. The entryways are too small and only allow for one-way traffic. Most airport restrooms are way undersized and understaffed. You would think if an airport charges every passenger a $10 airport fee as part of your ticket price like they do, the least they could do is have large restrooms that are clean.
#28- Forget selfie sticks this year. It’s drones, drones, drones – The coolest pix this year during your vacation will come from your hand-launched drone. Drones are shrinking in size and price, and will soon be seen buzzing around a site near you in view-blocking, photo-spoiling drones.
#29- More companies will allow their travelers to pay $100 or more for a direct flight. Missing a connecting flight in 2020 could keep you stranded in an airport for up to four days – Once again, with airlines flying their planes 90% full means they only have a few seats available if a flight is canceled or delayed. Add a major storm into the mix and missing your connecting flight in 2020 might mean you are sitting in the airport waitlisted for the next available seat, which might be two to four days later. This is a giant reason why companies in 2020 will continue to relax their travel policies and allow their business travelers to spend $100 or more for the convenience of direct flights.
#30- Travelers are craving authentic experiences in 2020 – They want boutique hotels, unique eating experiences where the locals eat and ways to stay away from the plastic-fantastic tourist traps in 2020.
During the past seventeen years, 73% of my predictions have come true! (I improved a little this year up from 71% last year) Over the next four weeks, I will provide you with 60 of my travel industry crystal ball predictions. Here is week 1 of what I think will happen in 2020. Part 2 of 4 will arrive in your inbox next week.
#1- Get ready for the super airfare sale of the century – Everyone has heard of the Boeing 737MAX debacle that has grounded over 800 airplanes until the planes can be re-certified. As you may be aware during the grounding of this plane hundreds of new 737 MAX planes have continued to be built and when the government finally approves that the plane can fly again this will unleash an estimated 800 new planes with thousands of additional daily flights into the airline schedules this spring. To fill those planes I am predicting a massive new airfare sale will be launched to put butts in seats. Wow! Hold onto your seats! This should be fun!
#2- Say goodbye to those mini-shampoo bottles in hotels in 2020 – Many of the major hotel brands are putting in plans to do away with those lovely little plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles in hotel bathrooms in 2020. The move away from plastic bottles will evolve quickly and be replaced with bulk wall units on the bathroom show walls. I support this move but will miss being able to borrow extra shampoo bottles to take home and use at the gym.
#3- Throw away your boarding pass in 2020 as biometrics will be the future of security check-in – The airlines and government have already implemented the use of biometrics (fingerprint, eye scan, etc) as a more secure way to get you through security lines and onto the planes. I think the Global Entry pass and TSA PreCheck will quickly move from fingerprint scans to biometric eye scans this year.
#4- Airline frequent flyer miles will be worth half their value from 2 years ago – All the major airlines are devaluing their frequent flyer miles as trillions of miles have been accumulated on credit cards. Basically, all the airlines are eliminating their frequent flyer award charts that used to show, for example, that 25,000 miles were good for a free round-trip domestic coach airline ticket. Today that same domestic ticket can cost upward of 100,000 points. This is very sad for people hoping to use their miles for free tickets.
#5- This will be a creepy year for personal privacy when traveling –I travel to China several times a year and they do a fingerprint and eye scan (biometric) on you when you enter the country. They also have cameras on every corner and in every building. Combine those cameras with artificial intelligence and basically they can follow you everywhere and know everything you are doing. I hope that countries like the U.S. and those in the European Union put some limitations around what can and can’t be done without my consent.
#6- Male (M), Female (F), Undisclosed (U), or Unspecified (X) will be added as gender options – Airlines will rapidly implement non-binary gender options across all their booking channels. They will also expand the “Mr.” and “Ms.” identification with “Mx”. Actually, I think instead of adding all these options it would just be simpler to eliminate gender identity altogether as part of the travel security process.
#7- United Airlines will be the “Princess” of the airline industry in 2020 – These guys and girls have their act together. They are expanding domestic service from all their hubs, adding new direct international destinations, bringing on dozens of new planes, implementing new regional jets with expanded room and service, upgrading their business class and economy plus seating, adding and upgrading the United Club and Polaris lounges, and most importantly focusing on their customers, operations and service. Three cheers for United Airlines. You have my vote for 2020 Airline of the year.
#8- Forget about a complimentary domestic upgrade unless you are a top elite airline member – There are now millions upon millions of travelers who are silver, gold and even platinum members of the major airlines’ frequent flyer programs. These programs offer complimentary first-class upgrades however, the reality is that even if you are a gold or platinum member there can be 40 people ahead of you on the complimentary upgrade list for your flight. If you are not 1K or Global Services on United, Executive Platinum on AA or Diamond Status on Delta don’t hold your breath in 2020 that you will ever be upgraded.
#9- Your butt will get bigger or the airplane seats smaller in 2020 – All the major airlines are trying to quietly put more seats on airplanes so they can make more money on every flight. The seats are getting so small they are actually painful to sit in for many flyers. I am 6’4” tall and it is almost impossible for me to fit my legs between the seats. Even the “economy comfort” seats offered by all the major airlines that offer 4-5 inches more legroom are better but they are also decreasing the width of the seats so a flight that lasts over one hour is like being in a torture chamber.
#10- Hotels will all require a 72-hour notice to avoid a one-night cancellation fee – The hotel industry is struggling with how to deal with last-minute hotel deals that have offered a deep discount for travelers to fill empty rooms. When hotels have empty rooms they lower the prices and try to fill them. The problem is that savvy travelers were booking hotels in advance and canceling at the last minute to take advantage of lower prices. (sometimes even at the same hotel they were booked in). Hotels launched a 48-hour cancellation window in 2017 and 2018 and will try to move that to 72 hours in 2020 with the hope it will drastically prohibit last-minute re-bookings from happening.
#11- I am selling airline stocks – In 2018 I said to sell your airline stocks as fuel prices were doubling and airlines were spending money like drunken sailors. In 2019 I recommended buying airline stocks based on falling fuel prices. In 2020 I think the economy and fuel prices will drive down airline stock prices. P.S. I am not a stockbroker and am not qualified to advise anyone on investments.
#12- You can pay for your airline ticket using Facebook’s LIBRA cryptocurrency in 2020 – Cryptocurrency ideas exploded on the scene in 2017 and then in 2018 fell like a rock. In 2020 Facebook should be able to commercialize its LIBRA cryptocurrency to the point that you can use it to pay for your air and hotel expenses.
#13- Airlines will charge a $10 service fee for using a credit card (Forgive me for sounding like a broken record) – For seven straight years I have been predicting this will happen and I have been way ahead of my time (A nice way of saying I was wrong). But this year is different as there is too much money on the table for the airlines to keep ignoring this golden egg. Airlines pay anywhere from 2-3% of the cost of your airline ticket to credit card companies when you charge your airline ticket to a credit card. Charging a small fee to use your credit card is actually being done now all over the world. Credit card fees are the next big pot of gold the airlines can attack and capture billions in additional profits.
#14- Airport parking will cost more than the plane ticket – Compare parking your car in the airport garage at $25 a day for a two-week vacation and you will have spent $350 for parking vs. $200 for an airline ticket.
#15- Airlines will start charging baggage fees for international flights – In the past airlines did not charge baggage fees for the first bag for passengers flying international flights. Several years ago the airlines introduced “basic economy” airfares which charged for all bags checked but they did not charge a baggage fee for the first bag checked on all other coach fares. I think in 2020 the airlines will expand the baggage fees for all international coach tickets. This will raise billions of dollars in revenue for the airlines
Last night I came across an email I sent out over five years ago explaining the major benefits of using a professional travel advisor when you travel. I was amazed to find that all the same reasons I listed four years ago still apply today. Please read my article below (from July 8, 2014) listing eight things a professional travel advisor will do for you that an airline can’t (or won’t).
In today’s new world of air travel, you might be considered officially crazy if you don’t use a travel agent –
Last Thursday I was returning home and walking to my gate at Washington – Dulles airport when I received the dreaded email that my flight had been canceled because of the weather. Just as this happened I looked up at the flight departure monitors and saw a Christmas tree of red lights flashing as dozens of flights quickly canceled. Next came the dreaded mad dash to the airline counter by hundreds of passengers (who did not use a travel agent), while at the same time I simply pulled out my cell phone and dialed one number only to be greeted by a friendly travel advisor who provided me with four fast options to get home. In a matter of minutes, I was scheduled on a flight home that same night while hundreds of people waited hours and hours in line only to find out they would have to wait two days to get to their destinations as the next day’s flights were full. If waiting two days and spending hundreds of dollars on hotels, food, and taxis Is worth saving the small fee of using a travel advisor then I really do think you could be considered officially crazy.
Here are the eight wonderful things a professional travel advisor can do for you that an airline can’t (or won’t).
1. Answer the phone in 17 seconds with a real live person – Last year we answered our phones with a real live person in an average of 17 seconds during our normal business hours. Compare this with waiting on hold for hours with the airlines.
2. One call does it all – When you are making or changing a reservation one simple call to a travel advisor allows you to reserve an airline ticket, hotel, and car reservation. Plus when you change or rebook a reservation one simple call and those same reservations can be changed or canceled. Can you say “Easy”?
3. Find the lowest priced airfares – If you call an airline odds are you will pay too much. Airlines will only offer “THEIR” lowest airfare not other airlines airfares even if they are lower. Your travel advisor works for you and will find the best balance of price and schedules.
4. Offer multiple options on alternative flights – My flight from Washington – Dulles last week was a perfect example. While the airlines were offering to re-accommodate displaced travelers only from Dulles our advisors were looking to find flights departing from Dulles (IAD), Reagan (DCA) and even Baltimore (BWI). Not only were our professional advisors looking for departure city options they were looking for arrival city options for me which included Omaha, Lincoln, Kansas City and even Des Moines (all within a few hours drive from home). Experienced advisors know how to make things happen.
5. Proactively rebook your flight when flights are canceled or delayed – Our travel management company offers special services that will monitor your flight and proactively rebook your flight when flights cancel or are delayed (sometimes while you are mid-flight and are not even aware your next flight has been canceled).
6. We keep all your personal travel info in one (very secure) place – Put away your wallet when you are on the phone with us as we keep (with your permission) all your frequent traveler numbers, as well as billing processes so that you don’t have to find and repeat all those numbers over the phone.
7. Cancel your reservation within 24 hours with no penalty – we can save you hundreds of dollars in cancellation fees that the airlines might charge you when canceling and changing a ticket within 24 hours of making your reservation.
8. Personal service with real people helping real people – Call an airline and you can never get the same person twice. Use a travel agency and we can assign you your own personal travel advisor who can know you and your travel needs and desires. You will know their name, be provided their direct dial phone number as well as their personal email. Travel is very personal. Using a professional travel advisor will save you time and money. Most importantly we can help keep your dream vacation (or business trip) from turning into a nightmare.
Meet Women of Nebraska at Lincoln Women’s Expo, January 18th & 19th!
I am writing to you today from New Delhi, India. I was in Munich, Germany on Sunday and decided I would skip down to India for a two-day business meeting before heading home. This saved me a longer trip in a few months. This trip is basically “for Zombies Only” as jet lag never seems to end.
1. Good – The people are amazing. They may be the friendliest in the world. Plus, they speak good English.
2. Bad – Smog. I began coughing the minute I stepped off the plane in New Delhi. I understand that in many areas that is not the case but in New Delhi it is very obvious.
3. Good – Amazing work ethic. While I am visiting plants I have observed people working harder than I have ever seen.
4. Bad – The roads. If you want to experience one of those terror rides at Disneyworld simply ride in a car in India. I was fortunate enough to have a driver as I would never encourage anyone to drive here unless they had been here many times before. There are people driving on the wrong side of the road, zipping left and right with little warning. Thousands of bikes, motorcycles, trucks, buses, tractors, horses and my favorite; the green three-wheeled motorized rickshaws that are everything from a taxi to a pickup truck. Driving at night is even more fun as many motorcycles and bikes have no lights. Wow! P.S. They also drive on the left side of the road to confuse me even more.
5. Good – Hotel Hospitality. They all seem to have outstanding staff and everyone offers to help you. How refreshing.
6. Good and bad – The food. People either love or hate Indian food. I have a very simple palette and can’t take very spicy food. I bet you can guess what my vote is about Indian food.
7. Good – Massive changes every day. I was in India only two months ago and the four-hour drive to Moradabad from New Delhi has already seen massive road improvement. Even with much of the improvements being done with manual labor, it is great to see how fast their new roads come together.
8. Bad – E-VISA process. It can take hours to fill out and get approval for an E-VISA to enter India. The online application is a mess. Waiting in the immigration line to enter India at the airport is also a mess and rather lengthy.
9. Good and bad – I think the best time to visit India is between December and March when the temps are cooler. If you are here in the summer get ready to enjoy a sauna every day.