With 2018 here, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on some of the big travel stories we heard about in 2017 and what's coming up in 2018!
The 747 Retires
As a former flight attendant, I'm nostalgic for the the end of an era. I mention this first since the 747 has had such a huge impact on commercial flight. Not only could it carry more passengers, but it could also fly farther and more efficiently than other aircraft. In 1970, the 747 began flying commercially (Pan Am christened its first 747 at Dulles International Airport). The “hump” always made the 747 one of the most recognizable planes. It’s carried more than 3.5 billion passengers over the years, with more than 400+ passengers per flight. In November of last year, United’s 747 made its last flight. And Delta flew its last 747 commercially in December.
Can you believe it’s only been around for a year? In 2017, we were introduced to “Basic Economy” – the stripped down version of airfare, intended to compete with low cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier. As the name implies, basic economy offers little in the way of amenities. For example, there’s no advance seat assignments, no overhead bin space... well, you get the picture. While airlines claim it benefits passengers by giving them the ability to select the best value, I think that remains to be seen.
Did you ever think you would hear a city or country complain about TOO many tourists? Over the last several years, a trend has emerged where popular tourist locations feel that they’re being forced to address overcrowding, littering, and outrageous behavior in order to protect the very places that tourists are anxious to see. Many have acknowledged that if serious steps aren’t taken, those places will be forever damaged and they’ll end up being victims of their own success. Now some countries and cities are taking drastic measures by regulating tourism. Crazy, huh? Back in July, I wrote a post on how countries are getting tough on tourism.
On August 21, everyone in the U.S. was treated to a glimpse of the total solar eclipse. Starting in Oregon, then moving through the states of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. “Eclipse tourism” even became its own cottage industry with people flocking to destinations with the best views of the eclipse. The next total eclipse for North America will come on April 8, 2024. So, start making your plans now!
The U.S. and the Caribbean were impacted by multiple devastating hurricanes. Mount Agung in Indonesia, began spewing lava and smoke, causing volcanic earthquakes, evacuations and travel alerts. In Malta, the Azure Window, a famous limestone arch, featured in Game of Thrones and Clash of the Titans, collapsed after a heavy storm. While natural disasters occur every year, there seemed to be a lot of particularly catastrophic events in 2017.
What to expect in 2018?
Seats that don’t recline
Yup, British Airways is introducing seats that don’t recline on some of its short haul flights. Why? Well, seats that recline weigh more, thus increasing the aircraft’s fuel usage. Non-reclining seats have a simpler construction, so they’re easier to repair. And let’s not forget, “recline rage”, you know, when the person in front of you puts their seat back and now you’re even more squished in (and, at at 5 foot 1 inch, even I feel it!) .
"Smart” luggage ban
It was really cool when we saw luggage that could charge your electronics. Now that same cool luggage is being banned unless they have a removable lithium-ion battery. Why the ban? Well, many smart bags have lithium-ion batteries that have been found to catch fire easily. So, in an effort to decrease the risk of fires caused by those lithium-ion batteries, bags with batteries that can't be removed will soon be prohibited as checked luggage. That ban is set to take effect on January 15 on a number of major airlines, including Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
Experiential, active and solo travel will be more popular
I’ve always tended to be a more independent traveler, and while I’m not “anti-guided tours”, it’s just not my thing. Well, apparently, that trend is catching on. Solo travel is expected to increase dramatically in 2018, especially with women. There’s also a movement towards more active vacations (which I’m a huge fan of!), and experiential travel, where you’re interacting more with local culture - connecting to its history, people and culture through food, education, etc. And these types of vacations are not just popular with millennials. Oh no! Boomers are all about the experience, which just goes to show, you don’t have to be 25 to get your travel on!
So these are just some of the stories we saw in 2017 and a taste of what to expect in 2018. And remember - there’s never a bad time to travel somewhere! So go for it, and here's to having a bon voyage!