6 Travel Trends to Watch for in 2022

Panasonic Avionics< Panasonic Avionics
01/18/22 5 MIN READ

Although Omicron put a damper on air travel in December and January, industry trends still indicate travel overall is set to grow in 2022.

In October, IATA projected passenger traffic to jump from 2021 levels of 2.3 billion passengers a year to 3.4 billion in 2022. Domestic travel demand in particular is expected to hit 93% of 2019 numbers.

These figures may not quite reach pre-pandemic level travel, but they are an encouraging sign of recovery for the hard-hit airline industry. Even though it appears many COVID-19 health and safety protocols will remain in place for the foreseeable future, a host of new travel trends are set to help boost air traffic numbers even further in 2022.

1. Flexibility is critical to airline success in 2022

As expected, flexible itineraries and passenger-friendly cancellation and refund policies will reign supreme again this year as the industry ramps back up to speed. The difference in 2022 is that airlines and airports alike will be better equipped to meet the demand for more flexibility. That includes mobile-friendly real-time flight information, access to updated COVID safety protocols, digital vaccine passports, in-terminal testing facilities, and more.

And while there is always room for more innovation on this front, the fact that major U.S. carriers including United, Delta, and American Airlines have made many of their COVID-era no-fee cancellation policies permanent should be a boon to travelers looking for safe, flexible travel options in the age of variants.

2. Workcations growing across demographics

Another holdover from 2021 is the trend of working remotely from remote places for weeks, and sometimes months, at a time.

This trend has proven to be particularly appealing to younger workers, for whom months-long sabbaticals and work-from-anywhere abilities may have already been a way of life prior to the pandemic. This year, however, a broader range of individuals taking advantage of remote and hybrid offices by taking their work on the road with them, suggests a Priceline survey.

Interestingly, it reported that parents were 55% more likely than people without children to take advantage of their remote work situation by taking a workcation. Opening up advertising to more demographics will be part of new marketing approaches in 2022.

3. Business travelers itching to get back to the skies

Although Zoom and business communication platforms like Slack and Teams exploded in popularity over the pandemic, most of us have become tired of digital chatter and countless videoconferencing meetings.

A recent survey of MorningBrew.com readers, with additional data from Hilton, found that 54% of those surveyed said that they missed the energy and efficiency of building work relationships during in real life (IRL) meetings. In addition, a whopping 87% noted that they sometimes or simply outright missed jetting to other cities for meetings and conventions.

With the magic and spontaneity of doing business IRL difficult to replicate online, expect to see more companies offering business travel opportunities as perks—and not yet necessities—to their employees. Airlines and other stakeholders who embrace this new take on business travel have a unique opportunity to stand out from the crowd here.

4. App-powered travel takes off

With COVID variants like Delta and Omicron continuing to wreak havoc on travel plans worldwide, expect to see passengers embracing mobile apps and tech solutions like never before.

One-stop-shop airline apps will begin housing more and more travel-related details, including flight information, digital vaccine passports, duty-free shopping, in-flight menus, in-flight entertainment (IFE) options, and even cabin personalization. For airlines, these solutions will no longer be seen as nice to have but rather as an essential tool for anyone looking to fly in 2022 and beyond.

5. Contactless and less-touch travel grows

Piggybacking on the app-powered travel trend will be the widespread adoption of in-flight contactless solutions, and solutions that require as little touching of communal areas as possible.

Coupled with many of the enhanced safety and cleaning protocols implemented during the pandemic (which definitely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon), less-touch solutions like Panasonic’s popular Welcome Aboard Collection will be key to ensuring a safer in-cabin experience for all. These solutions range from offering passengers the ability to transform their personal electronic devices into IFE remotes, to tools like text or video chat that let them communicate with the cabin crew.

In 2022, we’ll see the adoption and development of contactless and less-touch tools grow as travelers return to the skies with safety on their minds.

6. Demand for sustainability hits new highs

The airline industry has been talking about sustainability since the 1990s, but reduced pollution during the first major COVID lockdown helped to renew the industry’s focus.

With that in mind, 2022 may be the year that sustainability takes center stage.

The world has changed considerably over the past two years, which gives the industry a unique opportunity to change with it. On the sustainability front, this means more than simply recycling and reducing emissions; rather, it means embracing lasting economic and social sustainability.

As more than one attendee at the recent APEX/IFSA Expo mentioned, “sustaining sustainability” by investing in your employees, crew, and passengers will be an essential component in rebuilding our industry in the years ahead.

This past June, a trends report from American Express Travel found that 68% of respondents said they are trying to support sustainability-friendly travel brands moving forward. In that same report, 55% of respondents said they were interested in “carbon negative” travel. As well, 60% said they wanted to fly with airlines that have carbon-neutral commitments.

Travelers today care about the companies and brands they support now more than ever. Meeting this new breed of traveler head-on by embracing a broader, more meaningful definition of sustainability in 2022 is more than a travel trend or a marketing gimmick, but an idea whose time has come.

Bringing back the magic to flying

At the APEX/IFSA Expo, one overarching theme was on attendees’ lips: the rekindling the magic of air travel for anxious, post-pandemic passengers who haven’t flown for a while.

Welcoming them back to flying takes mindful, intentional efforts. Those can include healthier, higher-end menu options, end-to-end personalization, and outside-the-box IFE offerings that passengers can’t get at home—like Panasonic’s hugely popular Arc 3D moving map solution, Live TV in-flight, or a curated selection of retro video games.

Reminding passengers about how enjoyable traveling can be is essential as we rebuild together in 2022.

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