Wings Magazine

Lonely Planet, IATA predict future of air travel

Sept. 25, 2014, Geneva, Sui. - Lonely Planet and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have joined forces to celebrate the 100th anniversary of commercial air travel by revealing Lonely Planet’s top 10 predictions for the future of world travel.

September 25, 2014  By IATA

According to Lonely Planet’s team of travel experts holiday makers are set to demand more ‘unplugged travel’ and secret escapes as the fast pace of modern life continues to grow (the full list of top ten predictions can be found below).

Top of Lonely Planet’s list of predictions is that travel will soon become fully integrated into our lives as opposed to a special event. Data from the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) forecasts that 6.6 billion passengers will fly worldwide by 2032, growing an average of 4.4% annually from 2014.  The increasing volume of commercial flights has brought a large shift in travellers’ mind-sets and Lonely Planet argues the concept of travel as a rare treat is disappearing, replaced by travel as a lifestyle choice.

Lonely Planet also predicts that green travel is also on the rise as a new generation of travellers builds sustainability into every step of their journeys. 70% of travellers expect companies to demonstrate commitment to preserving the natural environment prompting a boom in ecotourism and volunteering abroad. The aviation industry in particular has set its own objectives for carbon neutral growth and cutting CO2 emissions in half.

Sourcing online reviews remains second-nature for travellers, but hunger for secret coves and local secrets is emboldening them to embrace face-to-face or local recommendations. Lonely Planet experts suggest online reviews will remain part of a traveller’s toolkit, but a local recommendation – whether from a taxi driver, in-the-know café owner or Airbnb host – has never been more highly prized.


The pressures of modern life are also recognized, as Lonely Planet suggests we can expect an increase in ‘unplugged travel’. With no emails or mobile signal, guests can immerse themselves in their destination and truly forget about work and everyday life.

Lonely Planet’s predictions also bode well for economy fliers, as increased competition on well-trodden flight paths is encouraging airlines to improve the experience for everyone.  As true comparison shopping for air travel increases choice and competition, the future looks bright for economy flights – perhaps lie-flat seats, high quality food and more luxurious touches are not too far away.

Technology is also going to play an increasingly significant role, with more airlines offering paperless travel and integrated smartphones key to planning and tracking your travels. Soon technology will mean suggested tweaks to travellers’ itineraries based on weather conditions and local events will be sent directly to travellers’ smart phones or tablets during a flight – creating an ever more tailored travelling experience.

Airports are also due for an overhaul as innovative departure lounges are a key part of any future travel landscape. With airport spas, art galleries, green areas and even cinemas now a common site at most departure lounges, Lonely Planet suggests we can expect bigger and bolder leisure activities soon, maybe even a pre-flight roller coaster.

Other future travel predictions include the rise of experience hotels and event travel, as travellers’ explore the globe in search of memorial experiences and once in a lifetime sights.

Speaking about Lonely Planet’s findings, Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO said: "100 years after the first passenger flew on a scheduled flight; the predictions from Lonely Planet clearly show that millions more people are set to enjoy the opportunity to travel and particularly travel by air, as the world becomes a smaller and more accessible place than ever before. It is amazing to see how far we have come over the past 100 years and even more so to think of what we can expect from the next century. Air travel connects us to the world and reminds us of the importance of being there, whether it is the places or the people we love."

Tom Hall, Lonely Planet’s Editorial Director, explained: "Travel has changed dramatically since the first commercial flight 100 years ago, and the next 100 years has endless possibilities. At Lonely Plant, we’re constantly monitoring trends and developments in travel as we seek to find emerging destinations, hot topics and what is really getting travellers excited. This selection highlights some of the big trends that we predict for the next few years."


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