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We’ve already looked back at the big stories that shaped travel in 2022. Now, it’s time to look forward.
After more than two years held down by travel restrictions and overall anxiety, it seems like 2023 is poised to be the first full year of “normal” travel since the start of the pandemic. That comes with both good and bad news…
Sure, there will be more flights to more and more destinations – and, if the current trend holds up, at cheaper prices. But it may also test the struggling airline industry’s ability to keep up … and give airlines, hotel chains, and credit card companies license to make some decidedly unfriendly moves.
Here’s a look at what we see on the horizon for travel in 2023.
Travel Will Surpass Pre-Pandemic Levels
It came close in 2022. I think we’ll get there in 2023.
It’s hard to remember, but travel in 2022 started off in a much different, worse place than it ended. Mask mandates on planes were still in place in the U.S. and across much of the globe. From Europe to Asia to even Hawaii, many destinations had strict entry requirements in place a year ago while others still banned international travel altogether. Getting back to the U.S. after a trip abroad still required a negative COVID-19 test.
All that is gone now. Barring a surprise setback, 2023 will be the first full year of “normal” travel – or something darn close to it – we’ve seen since 2019. And that’s a recipe for some big numbers across the travel world.
It’s not quite there yet. Business travel – a lifeblood for the travel industry – has been much slower to come back, though that’s steadily changing. All the while, the leisure travel market of everyday Americans heading to see friends, family, or just take a vacation is arguably bigger than ever.
Critically, international travel is back on the menu. Europe is wide-open to Americans. Destinations like Japan, Australia, and now even Hong Kong have reopened their borders. Travelers who put off big, long trips abroad due to the uncertainty of travel these past few years are ready to pull the trigger in 2023.
The trend from 2022 was clear in this data from Airlines for America: International travel demand is growing. It’s a safe bet that trajectory will continue in 2023.
But growing travel demand also comes with a downside…
Delays & Cancellations Will Continue
Last year started and ended much the same: With airlines canceling flights by the thousands.
Southwest capped off 2022 with a historic meltdown, canceling more than 12,000 flights in the final week of the year and disrupting millions of Americans’ travel plans for the holidays. Southwest planes are …….