Here it comes…More of Steve Glenn’s travel industry predictions for 2021
During the past eighteen years, 73% of my predictions have come true. Last week I shared with you predictions 1-10. This week I will add predictions 11-20. During the month of January, I will provide you with a total of 40 of my travel industry crystal ball predictions. Here is week 2 of what I think will happen in 2021. Part 3 of 4 will arrive in your inbox next week.
11. Some countries will require you to be vaccinated for COVID before they will allow you into their country– I could easily see some countries implementing a required vaccination before you can enter their country. My guess is that for the first half of 2021 testing will be required but once the vaccine is widely available I think some countries will go the next step and require you to prove you have been vaccinated before they let you into their country.
12. Business travel may only reach 50% of its pre-COVID levels in 2021–Even with testing and a vaccine, until businesses decide to return their employees back to their offices you will not see a strong business travel in 2021. Also, many are predicting that the massive use of Zoom meetings will cut out much travel moving forward. Add to that the complete elimination of almost all large conventions during the first half of 2021 and one can easily predict it may be a three-year climb out of the basement for business travel to come back to normal.
13. If you fly domestically in 2021 you will probably fly on the Boeing 737MAX- Everyone has heard of the Boeing 737MAX debacle that has grounded over 1000 new Boeing 737MAX airplanes for the last year. The Boeing 737MAX is now recertified and hundreds of them will soon be added to almost every major airline fleet. The odds of you flying on one of these new birds is really high as the airlines have thousands of older planes they have taken out of commission because of COVID and want to bring the fuel-efficient Boeing 737MAX back in their place. If you do not want to fly on the 737Max for any reason, most airlines will allow you to reschedule on another flight without a fee.
14. Make reservations using your frequent flyer miles ASAP as they will be almost impossible to use after Memorial Day– The first three months of the year will start the year really slow for the airline industry. As such you will be able to find a pretty good supply of frequent flyer seat inventory to use your airline miles for free tickets. But planes will start filling fast as demand builds in the second quarter. My advice is to use your airline frequent flyer miles ASAP to book travel, as with limited flights and a wave of vacation bookings coming this spring, procrastination may cost you the opportunity to use your miles this year.
15. 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.
16. We will finally see the end of bogus emotional support animals on flights– There have been so many emotional-support service dogs/animals on planes that some people thought airlines should 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 got way out of hand. (My comments about a kennel onboard the airplane are of course very tongue-in-cheek). There has been a big scam going on the last two years 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 as a way to transport their dogs on a flight for free. Alaska Airlines this month announced they will no longer accept emotional support animals Under a new DOT policy, Alaska says passengers would have to complete a DOT form that shows the “animal is a legitimate service dog, is trained and vaccinated, and will behave appropriately during the journey.” This should stop the madness and still allow people who have legitimate support needs to have the needed support.
17. TSA security lines could be blocks long with social distancing requirements– After Memorial Day I am predicting that you will see a massive wave of travelers heading to the airports. Even pre-COVID during busy travel hours it was common to see lines 100 yards long. Now add in the social distancing 6 feet between each traveler and you can expect to see lines so long they will make your heart stop. The good news is that they will move quickly but will be longer than the time it takes to read the 1225 page book, “War and Peace”.
18. Americans will stampede to Hawaii this year– Hawaii has had some of the toughest COVID regulations prohibiting travel this past year. Hawaii has required a 14-day quarantine upon arrival which basically shut down travel as no one wants to waste 14 days in a hotel room. Once the vaccine gets widespread I think Hawaii will finally open up and people will want to travel to the Aloha State. Also Southwest Airlines last year added Hawaii to their service map and they will want to offer up some great airfares to get people jumpstarted again. Other airlines will want to protect their turf so I also think an early spring airfare sale might erupt to Hawaii.
19. Free Wi-Fi will happen on Delta this year– For the last two years, Delta has tried to pioneer offering free in-flight Wi-Fi for their customers. Well, it turns out that the current technology they are using for Wi-Fi service does not have the bandwidth so that if they offered the service for free that it would crash (Wi-Fi 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 a free texting service which the other airlines are still extremely late to jumping into this service.
20. YoYo airfare sales the first two months of the year will get people booking again– This past week we saw Southwest come in with a $29 OW airfare sale. Airfares for the first quarter of the year will go up and down a lot. Bottom line: If you see a great price be sure to lock it in as airlines now allow changes for free. Once again, watch out for airfares for travel after Memorial Day. They could go sky-high.