What Happened to Travel in the Era of Pre-Pandemic Seasons? An Editor’s Note on Unlocking the World
The long haul took a bit more of a battering. The airlines haven’t restored their pre-pandemic flight schedules and that means fewer planes and fewer seats.
Less happily, the changes could mean fewer breaks for travel workers. The president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CSA said it made the holidays a bit harder. “We used to plan our own holidays and work schedules around typical travel patterns. Now, flights are full all the time. This makes it difficult to get a job or take advantage of the benefits in our jobs.
Editor’s Note — Sign up for Unlocking the World , CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news about destinations opening, inspiration for future adventures, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.
The Big Question: Russia and the Rise of the Airline Economy in the Light of Covid-19, the Black Hole Recession, and the Covid Resurgence
Risks remain though. The global and regional recessions, Covid resurgence, change in travel patterns, and many other factors are outside the control of aviation.
IATA, the trade association for most airlines worldwide expects airlines to return to profitability in 2023 after a loss making 2022, mostly the result of a Covid-19 shutdown hangover, but also the rise in fuel prices.
In most ways that matter to airlines and their passengers, the world is now open. The big question almost everywhere — when China’s quarantine and other travel restrictions will end — has finally been answered. The country has relaxed travel restrictions from January 8.
The big question is Russia. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Russian airlines were banned from many countries’ airspace, including the EU, US, and Canada, and vice versa.
Outside of the conflict zone, the biggest effect of this has been to flights between Europe and east Asia, which must either fly south of the conflict zone and over the Caucasus or north over Alaska. As a result, many European and Asian airlines cut their services.
There are less flights between Europe and Asia, as well as a lot of European and Asian airlines with aircraft that they were planning to use on the routes, and they are now looking to find somewhere else to fly them.
New routes between North America and Europe are already taking flight, with the big three transatlantic joint venture airline cartels — corresponding roughly to the Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam alliances, and which have been allowed to coordinate pricing between their members — adding many new routes and beefing up existing services.
If you can see a new nonstop flight opening up, it could be worth taking the chance. If European airlines regain access to Russian airspace and demand to and from China returns, the new nonstops might go back to requiring a layover.
While we’re talking alliances, Virgin Atlantic is expected to join its part-owner Delta in the SkyTeam alliance early in 2023, while the longtime rumor that China Southern (by some counts the world’s largest airline) will join the Oneworld alliance seems to be gaining some traction recently. That will open up some new connections for those airlines’ partners — and their passengers.
China’s first modern narrowbody airliner, the COMAC C919, is expected to enter passenger service as of June of 2022, two years ahead of schedule. The new plane, seen as a major challenge to Western manufacturers, will give passengers in China a new option, although it’s not much different from the experience on a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320.
There are no new planes planned in the next few years. Boeing isn’t expected to deliver the stretched widebody until the year 2025, after test flights were suspended in December due to a GE9X engine problem.
It is worth keeping an eye out for the new nonstop flights between smaller airports that will be announced in 2023.
More and more passengers will benefit from the comfort features of Airspace cabin equipped aircraft because of the rise in the number of aircraft entering the market. It is important for me to bring innovations to a lot of passengers in the future.
Also, he expects, “we’ll see a digitalization wave into the daily business of airlines.” Digitalization is helpful for passengers: a more connected airline offers more information and more self-service options, helping to avoid airport lines or long waits on the phone.
Making the most of the A380 superjumbos: The case for sustainable aviation fuels and the plane’s departure from the “Liquid Ban”
The huge (and hugely popular) Airbus A380 superjumbo is coming back into service. The A380s are brought back by airlines, so more seats are added in the economy section of the plane. It’s good news for travelers.
The shorter version of the MAX 7 is currently in limbo with an end-of-year deadline looming.
The US wants Boeing to put in more safety systems. It’s going to be a lot of money for Boeing because they promised some airlines they wouldn’t need to do that in order to save money.
The long term impact on passengers is not likely to be much, but airlines may be delayed in using these planes to replace older ones.
The year of 2023 is the year when airports are going to get rid of the “liquid ban”, where anything on the liquid-paste-cream-gel spectrum can only be carried within a small zip-lock plastic bag.
Fliers may already have experienced early versions of the scanners that allow you to leave your liquid bag and electronics in your hand luggage, but these are rolling out more widely. The UK is expected to introduce these out across airports in 2023.
One side of that is the increasing use of sustainable aviation fuels made from a variety of sources. Virgin Atlantic recently announced it was trialing the first transatlantic carbon “net-zero” flight powered by SAF in 2023, following similar projects by other airlines.
We talked to cabin designer Martin Darbyshire from tangerine, the design agency responsible for many of the most innovative cabins in recent times, who highlights that, “as designers we have a responsibility to remove complexity, weight and cost, and deliver longer lasting and more repairable, and recyclable solutions for the airline interiors industry. Our clients are demanding it and we owe it to society to make it happen.”
CNN Travel’s top 2023 destinations: Where are we heading? What happened to Szybala’s bag after United Airlines’s meltdown?
Indeed, he says, it is “astonishing that it has taken all this time to gather momentum. Without a shadow of a doubt 2023 onwards will be dominated by environmental, social and corporate governance.”
CNN Travel’s roundup of best places to visit in 2023 might help you decide your itinerary. We have a list of places we want to see in the next year.
Asia, as the last region to open up after Covid, will be top of many travelers’ minds. Our guide to Asia’s mostunderappreciated places can be used if you’ve already been to the top attractions like Angkor Wat and the Taj Mahal.
Szybala’s tracking device revealed that her bag had been used at McDonald’s and local malls, despite United Airlines telling her it had lost luggage. Here’s how she traced it to a residential address.
During the airline’s recent meltdown, Szybala’s bag went AWOL after a layover in a Southwest hub. There were people still waiting to be processed after the Southwest debacle.
The most punctual airlines and airports of 2023 — the story of Sarah and her husband, Sarah, and the case of the Appalachian Trail
Thousands were also stranded in Manila at the Philippines’ largest airport after a power outage on New Year’s Day. While there’s no way of guaranteeing a trip will go smoothly, some operators have better records than others. Here are the most punctual airlines and airports of 2022 — and a lot of them are in the US.
A luxury hotel in a dramatic setting is the perfect venue for romantic assignations or clandestine adventures, as fans of the hit Netflix show “The White Lotus” already know. The San Domenico Palace is a five-star resort that’s as big a draw as the cast of the show is.
The Hotel Chelsea, the Ritz Paris, and the Cliveden House were some of the legendary hotels with scandalous stories to tell. There are hotels with a front row of history.
A passenger at New York’s JFK Airport found himself in a bind when he tried to smuggle gun parts inside peanut butter jars. His bag woke up the X-ray unit.
A woman got probation and a $9,123 restitution charge for interfering with American Airlines crew during a flight in 2021, which just so happens to be the worst year on record for unruly airline passenger behavior.
We wouldn’t normally encourage a conversation with a stranger in the woods, but it worked out perfectly for Sarah and her husband, who met along a secluded stretch of the Appalachian Trail. Here’s their story.
Hygge-inspired Travelers: 19 Warm People to Know Before Buying Your Flights, or How to Take a Break of Your Cold War
With a good travel blanket, you can bring the hygge vibes with you on the road. CNN Under Scored put together a list of 19 of the warmest and most comfortable people around.
The airline had folded for the second time in three years. Flybe first went under in March 2020, then came back a few years later with domestic and international routes, but folded less than a year later.
“Most of those that failed in 2020 were likely to have gone out of business anyway, just a bit later. Many were either airlines that had had issues for quite some time, or fragile ventures that lacked the scale and scope to compete with large operators.”
What does the future hold? Suau-Sanchez thinks fare increases of up to 25% will continue for the “for a few years,” as airlines need recovery money, fuel prices increase, and the aviation industry invests in sustainable technology.
Flying can no longer be done if you are on a budget. Fares to New Zealand, for example, have increased 81% year on year, they say, while flights to South Africa from the UK are up by 42% in economy and 70% in business. Of course, there’s context for both destinations. South Africa was at the center of the Omicron variant while New Zealand was closed.
In the first quarter of 2020, bookings are still down 22% from the first quarter of 2019, according to data from the International Air Transport Association.
That is not set to last. Olivier Ponti, ForwardKeys vice president of pnsights, says that he’s “cautiously optimistic that the summer season will be extremely busy” – as long as external factors don’t intervene.
From the Alitalia to London, Europe during the Pandemic: Where do we stand today? Where are we going? How are European airlines moving towards Europe?
“I was surprised to see the Alitalia brand go – not because it was in a healthy state, it had been a financial basket case for so long, but because nevertheless it had carried on and on,” says Miquel Ros, AllPlane’s founder and editor.
He adds that the past three years have seen a “lot of launches,” too. Of course, of those newbies, Flybe’s second iteration and Flyr are already out of the picture.
That’s the model that the rest of the world are moving towards as a result of the pandemic, says Pere Suau-Sanchez, senior lecturer in air transport management at the UK’s Cranfield University and the Open University of Catalonia in Spain.
He says that in Europe, we have more players in our market who are smaller and specialized in geographic areas, which makes them more susceptible to external forces.
During the Pandemic, he warns, regional airports have taken a hit too with airlines focusing on larger hubs to accelerate recovery. Business travelers are important clients for regional airports because they are en route to different cities. “When the market is small, losing a few passengers can be a major problem,” he says.
European shorthaul has already been stable, with decent fares. “Demand is pretty robust, competition is high, and the market is functioning,” he says.
The high prices are due to the fact that demand is coming back quicker than supply. He says longhaul fares are higher than in 2020, but they can charge a premium.
On the plus side, he believes that it won’t be forever: “All being equal, fares will go down. I’m not saying you’ll be able to fly from London to New York for £200 return I think prices will come down over time but I don’t know.
The people are ready to move after the long periods at home. The rising cost of living is forcing many tourists to look for ways to cut their travel costs.
“You have real wage contractions in quite a lot of markets,” Axel Hefer, CEO of search platform Trivago, told CNN. “What that means is you need to save money somewhere.”
Travelers are also looking into less expensive destinations. For example, those using Trivago’s platform — which allows users to compare hotel prices around the world — have shown a growing interest in Morocco and Portugal, according to Hefer.
In the United Kingdom, which has seen swings in the pound recently, domestic travel remains strong. Currency fluctuations can make it harder to plan for future trips abroad.
Hefer believed a lot of people would travel from China to the top cities of Asia, Europe and North America over the summer. That could prop up prices for hotels and flights. Airfares have already increased sharply year over year due to ongoing labor shortages and delays in the delivery of commercial jets.
Tour operator TUI said Tuesday that booking figures for the past four weeks were above pre-Covid levels, with higher average prices. The company noted that it hosted 3.3 million customers in its first quarter, up from 2.3 million a year earlier, and that it had 8.7 million bookings for the current winter and summer seasons.