It's no secret that the travel experience often leaves much to be desired. What's meant to be leisurely and stress-free is anything but. With the holiday travel season right around the corner, we wanted to share a few trends we'd like to see from the travel industry.
1. Free Wi-Fi across airports and hotels. This is a no-brainer. Have you ever stopped to wonder why budget hotels have caught on to free Wi-Fi, while luxury hotels continue to charge for it? Hotel and airport Wi-Fi charges are often a steep price at that, with 24-hour usage costs being comparable to what some pay for monthly internet at home. Some airports (Like our very own SFO) and hotels are starting to come around, but until then, we'll continue to advocate for free Wi-Fi across the board. While we'd love to even see free Internet on planes, let's not get too ahead of ourselves here.
2. Less nickel-and-diming and more high fiving. Have you ever gotten your boarding ticket at the airport and wondered if you've just paid more in extra charges than you paid for the flight? While new regulations requiring websites to display the total price (Taxes and fees included) upfront have certainly eased frustrations, we still have a long way to go. Is it too much to ask that hospitality be brought back to the hospitality industry? After a recent issue with a car rental at Hertz, the manager went out of the way to make sure I left happy, giving me a credit and free rental on my next visit. I'd like to see more experiences like this to become the norm, rather then the exception.
3. Better accommodation options inside airports. Anyone who travels frequently has probably been left with the choice of having to choose between sleeping in the airport or staying the night in a nearby hotel. Have you ever tried to sleep in the seats of an airport? If not, I challenge you to try it without getting a crick in your neck or falling out of the chair. While I'm not advocating for futons in every terminal around the world, there's certainly more that can be done for travelers who are stuck in the airport for the night. Some airports are trying, including Yotel, whose London Gatwick location offers day stays for up to eight hours starting at $40.
4. Enhanced baggage tagging. Data from the Department of Transportation shows that approximately three bags per 1,000 U.S. passengers are lost. Most travelers probably have experiences of waiting in a line or holding on the phone due to lost baggage. But if we can so easily track a flight from our mobile phones, why can't we just as easily track our bags? Look for baggage tagging innovations coming soon, especially since Delta recently introduced a program to track the status of checked baggage.
5. Premium seating on airplanes that go beyond just increased legroom. While I'm all for more legroom, standing at 6'3," if I'm going to pay more for a premium seat, I want more than just a few extra inches of space. That's all you're getting with some airlines that offer premium seating. However, I'd like to see a model of premium seating in coach that is similar to the model of Virgin America's Main Cabin Select. It's somewhat of a middle ground between coach and first class. It comes with one complimentary checked bag, leather seats with several more inches of room, complimentary food and drinks (yes, booze too), free entertainment (including TV and movies that main cabin passengers have to pay for), priority check-in and security screening.
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @spencerspellman.