Travel News

2024 Travel Predictions: Airline Prices, Destinations, AI and More

An illustration of a commercial jetliner with a red price tag with a dollar sign hanging off its fuselage. The border of the illustration is a black airplane cabin window.

Credit…Chanelle Nibbelink

A record 4.7 billion passengers are expected to fly globally in 2024, up from the previous record of 4.5 billion in 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association. Analysts at American Express Global Business Travel say that average ticket prices across all regions are not expected to change significantly. But in the United States, domestic and international airfares are expected to move in opposite directions.

Hayley Berg, lead economist for the booking platform Hopper, anticipates that for the next six months, domestic airfare will cost less than in 2023 and prepandemic years. Travelers booking domestic flights in February can expect to pay an average fare of about $276 round-trip — an 8 percent decrease from the same month last year. Reasons for the falling prices include increased airplane capacity — the number of seats on a given route — and a drop in the cost of jet fuel.

“January will be the cheapest month of the year to book travel until the fall shoulder season in September and October,” Ms. Berg said. “Airfare will rise into late spring as the spring break and summer travel period heat up.”

International airfare departing from the United States is up 10 percent for 2024 compared with 2023, according to Kayak, a travel search engine. But airline capacity, Ms. Berg said, is rising and might eventually dampen that increase in prices.

Overall, the outlook for airfare this year is a return to normalcy, said the aviation analyst Robert W. Mann Jr.

“Revenge travel” and the volatility in airfare that has characterized the last few years are “basically in the rearview mirror,” he said. And ebbing demand for leisure travel might mean more excess capacity, further driving prices down.

It is hard to believe that it has only been about a year since travelers started dabbling in ChatGPT-created itineraries. This year will bring even more experimentation and innovation. “A.I. is like a teenage intern,” said Chad Burt, co-owner of the travel adviser network Outside Agents, “better, smarter, faster than you, but you need to lead them.”

The expanding use of A.I. could influence how we book online, what happens when flights are canceled or delayed, and even how much we pay for tickets.

“In 2024, we will see a new breed of intelligent travel agents built on top of chatbots,” said Oren Etzioni, professor emeritus of computer science at the University of Washington. That means travelers…

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