The good and the bad: Travel in 2014
According to Travel Guru Scott McMurren, 2014 will bring some mixed news when it comes to travel.
Airfares are going up. This is as a result of increased regulatory costs, but also because of reduced competition brought about by mergers.
Fees are also going up, including bag fees, change fees, fees for preferred seating, early-boarding fees and fees to hold your reservation. Be prepared.
Rampant “mileage inflation” for travelers means your airline miles are losing value. Airlines are figuring out more creative ways to sell miles and pad travelers’ accounts — without actually redeeming them.
Select fares in competitive markets are lower than ever. When airlines compete, travelers win. Seasonal entrants like JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, American Airlines and others put a damper on higher fares. Even in the winter, rivalries between Alaska, Delta, US Airways and United offer good deals from time to time.
Banks offer better deals than airlines on travel rewards. How you pay for your travel — and your everyday expenses — can have a direct effect on how well you travel. Many Alaskans have an Alaska Air Visa card from Bank of America, but other reward cards can pay big dividends on hotels and airfares, too.
Nonstop flights are good, and there are more than ever traveling out of Anchorage. In addition to the in-state routes, here are some of the year-round nonstop flights available:
- Anchorage-Seattle (Alaska and United)
- Anchorage-Portland (Alaska Airlines)
- Anchorage-San Francisco (United Airlines)
- Anchorage-Las Vegas (Alaska Airlines)
- Anchorage-Phoenix (Alaska and United)
- Anchorage-Denver (United Airlines)
- Anchorage-Minneapolis (Delta Airlines)
- Anchorage-Chicago (Alaska Airlines)
- Anchorage-Honolulu (Alaska Airlines)
In the summertime, Alaskans get extra flights, including:
- Anchorage-Minneapolis (Sun Country)
- Anchorage-Seattle (Delta and Jet Blue)
- Anchorage-Los Angeles/LAX (Alaska Airlines)
- Anchorage-Long Beach (Jet Blue)
- Anchorage-Salt Lake City (Delta Airlines)
- Anchorage-Dallas (American Airlines)
- Anchorage-Houston (United Airlines)
- Anchorage-Denver (Frontier Airlines)
- Anchorage-Frankfurt (Condor)
- Anchorage-Reykjavik (Icelandair)
You can, indeed, buy travel happiness. Airlines in particular are offering more products and services that allow travelers to upgrade their experience: increased legroom, early boarding, lounge access, better seats and more. If you’re a frequent flyer you can often get these services at no additional charge. That adds to the benefit of being a “top tier” traveler with an airline, such as “MVP” status with Alaska Airlines.
Competition is the most important element in affordable air travel. Thankfully, competition is on the upswing in Alaska, particularly with new flights from Delta Air Lines. That means more bonus miles, lower fares on competitive routes and better product offering. While Virgin America tried to stake their flag last summer with nonstop trips to San Francisco, McMurren said they failed. Other airlines, like Southwest, are waiting in the wings.
This coming year is shaping up to be a great year for travel, McMurren said.