5 Things for Passengers to Know about Travel in 2014

A new year always brings new challenges for travelers: Remember 2008, when checked-bag fees became the norm? My 2014 predictions aren’t that outrageous but they do include a couple of curveballs so take a look. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Listen: Rick Seaney adds some bonus predictions.

1. Fares and Fees

Good news and bad news: Both will rise but not by much. Spirit Airlines has already raised some of its baggage fee but only by a buck or so and airfare will go up but only by about four and five and a half percent by year’s end.

2. Fare Wars

Good news for the wealthier among us (or those who’d like to be): Airlines are targeting cross-country business and first class for special deals to entice more high-paying flyers. On the coach side, long simmering competitive battles continue in cheaper cities like Boston and Denver.

3. Complaints

It’s been more than a decade since more stringent security measures were put in place after 9/11 and some of the worst of that has come and gone (think of those “naked” X-ray machines that have now disappeared), plus amenities like free meals in coach and free blankets and pillows have been missing for more than five years. In other words, we’ve gotten used to flying frill-less and I expect the airlines will see fewer complaints. However, there is supposedly a corresponding rise in complaints about bad or unruly passengers, which is what you get when more and more people are crammed together in fewer planes. Got a complaint? Here’s how to file it.

4. Cell Phones

I fully expect the FCC will allow cell phone calls on planes. I also expect the airlines to say, “no, thanks” at least until passengers decide, hey, it might be nice to make calls (and if that happens, watch for the complaints mentioned in item number three to zoom back up again).

5. Wright Amendment

This is mainly of interest to the people of northern Texas but if family or company’s headquarters are in Dallas, you’ll be interested to know that the Wright Amendment is gone as of this coming October. What it did was limit flights out of Dallas’ Love Field – home to Southwest Airlines – to a handful of states; you would then continue on your journey via flights from those other airports. It was all meant to protect the then-new Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW) which has turned into a huge hub and no longer needs any protection.

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Published: January 9, 2014