Forecast 2012: Rick's Top Five Predictions for Flying in the New Year

First of all, I believe most of us are getting used to the hassles of air travel. After all, complaints about the TSA are falling, and the majority of us understand that bag fees are here to stay. What will change? Here’s my forecast:

Hear my predictions for the 2012 travel year:

 

Top 5 Air Travel Predictions

1. We may see fewer airlines

I can’t say this with complete certainty at the moment, but it would not surprise me to see another merger this year especially in light of the American Airlines bankruptcy.

What the American Bankruptcy Means to You

The only problem is which airline would AA merge with? Most have already found partners: Delta/Northwest, United/Continental and even Southwest/AirTran. All that’s left, really, is US Airways and that might not be a good fit, culture-wise. Time will tell.

2. Airfare prices will rise

All signs point to increased demand for flights especially all those airline attempts at hiking prices. Carriers wouldn’t bother trying unless they felt confident people would continue to fly and pay the higher airfare. So far, 9 of 22 airfare hike attempts have been successful, and the airlines will continue to test the public’s appetite for higher prices into the New Year.

3. You will still be able to find deals

Despite rising airfare prices – and look for even sharper hikes if the price of oil jumps – deals are still available, especially during the less popular times to fly which include the dead zones.

Fly the Dead Zones and Save on Airline Tickets

Plus, airlines will keep cranking out deals, to lure the leisure traveler. Here are two of my favorite tips for finding cheap flights:

4. Fees are here to stay and will go higher

You’ve heard about proposed legislation that would force airlines to give everyone a free checked-bag, but do not count on this! Airlines make too much money (billions of dollars) to give that up. Look for more creative attempts at bundled fees that get discounted as you move from online to the airport.

5. Celebrities will continue to make news on planes

A Pilot Responds to Alec Baldwin Getting Kicked Off Plane

You can bet on this one: from time-to-time, celebrities will behave badly on flights. And so will ordinary folks and so will cabin crew members – anyone remember the JetBlue flight attendant who exited his plane via the emergency slide carrying a couple of beers?

More from Rick Seaney:

5 Air Travel Predictions for 2012

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Published: December 27, 2011