Five Air Travel Trends to Watch in 2017

This year, airline seats are either getting fancier or more cramped depending on how much you’re willing to pay, and you may want to read up on your frequent flier plan before your next flight. Those are just a few of the trends defining 2017.

When it comes to air travel, the high end is getting ever higher and the low end is falling lower than ever.

Depending on your budget, that could mean good or bad things regarding your next trip across the country or even abroad.

But if you’re a road warrior, be sure to keep an eye on these trends in 2017:

Basic economy fares take hold: Low-end flying is likely to get a lot less fun if you’re not willing to spend a few extra bucks. Airlines such as United and Delta are offering new low-end fares that are as no frills as you can get. In the case of United, the fare doesn’t come with any overhead baggage access. “These are ugly, ugly fares,” travel journalist Pauline Former noted to NPR. “You don’t ever get to choose a seat. So you’re pretty much going to get the middle seat.”

Prices on the decline: Fortunately, those low-end seats come at a time when prices as a whole are declining. According to a recent report by Expedia in partnership with Airlines Reporting Corporation, growing capacity and shrinking airfares should work in tandem to help make flying an attractive prospect in 2017. “For today’s traveler, this confluence of circumstances—more planes, lower prices, more destinations—is exceptional,” argued Greg Schulze, Expedia’s senior vice president of commercial strategy and services, in a news release.

Loyalty programs losing some luster: If you’re hoping for a lot of extra perks for being a frequent flier, you may find that the programs don’t live up to their reputations. Skift reports that a variety of factors, including a move away from miles and fewer options for upgrades, have made loyalty programs a little worse for air travelers. “[M]any of the luxuries once enjoyed by frequent fliers have now been limited, lost to restrictions or wholesale program changes,” the website’s Grant Martin wrote.

A little premium, a little economy: If you don’t like the idea of sitting in basic economy, maybe premium economy is more your speed. The Wall Street Journal reports that the extra legroom seats, which are popular internationally, are expected to see significant expansion among U.S. airlines this year.

The high end reaches new heights: If you’re flying international this year, you might find United Airlines’ new Polaris business-class seats, which can be turned into beds, appealing. Meanwhile, Delta hopes to stand out with its Premium Select and Delta One seats, which each offer impressive amenities to passengers. On the very high end, private jets are said to be making a comeback this year.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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