Air Travel Forecast for 2016

What will happen in the world of air travel in 2016? The number one question I get is will the price of flights go up and I’ve got the answer. I also have other travel predictions that could could affect where you’ll go and when you’ll fly this year.

 Don’t miss: Rick Seaney’s video podcast at the very end.

Rick Seaney’s Air Travel Forecast for 2016

I expect to see more people flying in the new year. The economy is doing pretty well, oil prices remain down and passenger demand is good. Outside of a big economic shock, I don’t expect to see huge changes in 2016 compared to 2015.

  • What’s Going to Happen to Airfare Prices?

The airlines made money in 2015, but I don’t look for them to pass that on to passengers in the form of cheaper fares; however, I do expect they’ll spend some earnings on what is called “enhancing the passenger experience” meaning new lounges and aircraft upgrades. The good news is, I don’t expect prices on average to rise (or not much, anyway).

  • Will Fees Go Up?

Again, with the airlines doing well I do not expect fees to rise. Exceptions: Spirit and Frontier may continue to tweak fees (and possibly raise some) but as ultra-low cost discounters that’s part of their DNA and business model.

  • Will I Have to Pay to Use an Airplane Bathroom?

No, there will be not be a “pay-to-pee” fee. You may have heard talk about this a few years ago when the CEO of Ireland-based Ryanair floated the idea but then Michael O’Leary will float any idea if it means more publicity for his airline. Nevertheless, one U.S. politician (Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill.) was apparently worried enough to legally forbid the nonexistent practice in a bill he introduced in December 2015.

  • Will More Airlines Merge?

Unlikely. There are a few potential candidates among U.S. airlines for possible mergers but I do not see this happening – or not this year, anyway.

  • Can I Fly to Cuba?

Just about everything’s in place now for regularly scheduled flights to Cuba and I expect all the U.S. legacy carriers to fly to Havana in 2016. The only wrinkle for visitors could be lack of infrastructure in the island nation, but that’ll eventually change, too.

  • When is the Best Time to Fly?

Follow the usual rules to find the cheapest flights, including shopping on Tuesday and flying the cheapest days (in the U.S. that’s Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays). Above all, you must compare airfares because no airline always has the best deals.

Tip: If you’re in the U.S. and reading this at the start of 2016, it’s not too late to be shopping for Spring Break flights.

  • Where are the Cheap Destinations?

Thanks to great transatlantic fares from discounters like Norwegian Air and Iceland’s Wow Air, this could be your year for Europe. We’ve seen incredibly cheap fares for winter flights, but plenty of deals in spring and fall, too. As always, summer is peak season but if you shop carefully you’ll still find deals.

VIDEO PODCAST: More predictions from Rick Seaney.


Updated: January 5, 2016