Top 9 Air Travel Trends to Keep an Eye on in 2024

Top 9 Air Travel Trends to Keep an Eye on in 2024

2024 is just around the corner, and it’s time to start planning travel for the new year. Travel by air has seen a complete resurgence since low numbers between 2020-2022. In fact, 2024 is expected to be a milestone for global passenger traffic recovery, with an estimated 9.4 billion passengers to travel by air.

These figures are especially impressive in Asia, as the region is expected to see travel numbers of 99.5% of the 2019 level. All this to say—it’s going to be a busy year at the airport!

It’s important for travel planners to stay up to date on the latest travel and tourism trends. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top air travel trends you can expect to see in 2024.

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1. More digital experiences

In 2024, travelers can expect to spend more time interacting with screens. Staffing issues are familiar in the air travel industry, much like many of the other industries in recent years. As staffing continues to be a global issue, airlines are projected to turn to digital experiences to fill in the gaps.

Digital check-in has been a part of travelers’ reality for several years.

But the strain on check-in counters and flight attendants is expected to be heavily alleviated by our computer friends in 2024. Expect more contact with digital self-service gadgets in the new year. 

Notably, in the United States, the Transportation Security Administration is testing a self-service security screening option in January 2024. These new devices won’t roll out in 2024 but are definitely a sign of what’s to come. 

Travelers will navigate check-ins with ease, as a touch of the screen streamlines their journey in an ever-evolving digital embrace.
Photo: Vlad Teodor / Shutterstock.com

2. A return to business as usual…or worse?

Air travel is quickly becoming the norm again. Gone are the days of avoiding the airport for fear of crowded spaces and travel restrictions, as people did from 2020-2022. 

Here to stay are packed airports, long security lines, and everything we were accustomed to before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For those who started engaging in risky behavior by going to the airport close to their departure time, it’s time to rethink this bad habit in 2024. Airport projections expect heavy travel times to fluctuate throughout the year, and airport staffing protocols are changing to accommodate

As air travel rebounds, bustling terminals and brisk security lines mark a return to the familiar pre-pandemic hustle. Timely departures now demand early airport arrivals.
Photo: Setthawuth/ Shutterstock.com

Don’t rely on it not being a “popular” time to travel to save you from a travel nightmare. Security lines just may be worse than you’ve seen them in the past 3 years, even when it isn’t the holidays. 

The holidays are shaping up to be busy, too, though. In fact, the 2024 holiday travel times are already projected to be worse than ever before by Smarter Travel.

Things to consider when traveling by air in 2024 could be to avoid checking a bag if you can and prepare for lengthy airport delays. 

3. Cost increases incoming

A negative trend in the air travel industry for 2024 is cost increases. We can’t say that we’re surprised, however, as these increases are closely associated with the rise in the cost of fuel.  

Because of this, cost increases are especially likely in the Asia-Pacific region. With the long distances between countries in the region and big stretches of ocean to cover, it’s highly likely that travelers in this region will see price increases on their tickets in 2024. 

With fuel prices climbing, airfares follow suit, particularly across the vast Asia-Pacific skies. Savvy travelers watch for packaged deals and saver fares to navigate the rising tides of travel expenses.
Photo: pvproductions/ freepik.com.

As airlines try to recoup lost revenue and offset airline fuel prices, travelers around the world can expect fares to rise. However, airlines may try to hide these costs in new package arrangements or marketing angles. 

Alternatively, the attractiveness of Basic or Saver fares may help to reduce fare prices in American domestic travel.

Keep an eye on these deals to see if you can save money by sacrificing overhead luggage and a seat assignment. 

4. Business travel on the rise again

Another projection for 2024 air travel is that business travel will start to make its comeback. In previous years, while leisure travel was regaining strength, business travel lagged behind. Many suspect that this delay was due to a fear of commitment from businesses to trips that may have to be canceled due to closures. 

The realm of business travel burgeons anew, propelling global professionals to forge connections across continents and confer in pursuit of progress.
Photo: GaudiLab/ Shutterstock.com

While travel of all types is expected to be significant in 2024, business travel is especially projected to see an increase.

Figures from the Global Business Travel Association estimate that global business travel spending will grow to $1.5 trillion in 2024, which is over the 2019 level. 

These increases will absolutely impact air travel as business takes companies overseas to meet with clients, attend conferences, and go to retreats. At RateHawk, we look forward to seeing business travelers take advantage of the market in 2024 by making new connections. 

5. Personalization by airline companies

A new trend is expected to emerge in the coming year as AI algorithms and other personalization technology advances. The airlines are really getting to know you and your preferences. These changes could include rollouts of options for check-in, menu options on the plane, and more. 

Airlines harness the power of AI to offer a bespoke journey, from check-in to landing, crafting experiences as unique as each traveler.
Photo: metamorworks/ Shutterstock.com

More personalized advertisements may be on the horizon as well, which could expedite booking times and other aspects of arranging airline travel for travel agents and individuals. Shopping personalization for airline tickets is expected to make airline companies more sales-focused. 

2024 might be the year that airline companies start suggesting trips, tickets, and even seating arrangements for their travelers. We’re interested to see how this impacts travel agents and individuals alike. 

6. A standard for sustainability

There is a major environmental issue when it comes to traveling by air. That’s why you may have heard that train and car travel are becoming options that business travelers are using more frequently. However, airlines see these changes and are starting to address these concerns. 

The International Air Transport Association stresses the importance of using SAF for its members and hopes to have SAF used in the fleets of all major airlines by 2050 to reach net zero carbon emissions. 

One trend we will see in 2024 is the use of sustainable aviation fuel, also known as SAF. Airlines are expected to start using SAF in 2024 more than they ever have been before.While airlines can’t reduce the emissions from their existing plane trips immediately, they are looking for ways to make air travel more attractive to sustainability-focused clientele. 

Amidst environmental challenges, the aviation industry ascends towards sustainability, with SAF fueling the journey towards a cleaner tomorrow.
Photo: Scharfsinn/ Shutterstock.com

7. Bleisure is here to stay

In 2022, bleisure made up 60% percent of business travel. Some may expect bleisure or “business leisure” travel to depart as business travelers take to the sky again. However, the airline industry is preparing for bleisure travel to remain a large market in 2024.

 The interesting thing about bleisure travel is that it takes business groups and individuals to unique places not typically known for receiving business travel to extend their stay or act as a retreat. Off-the-beaten-path destinations are better suited to these types of trips rather than mainstream destinations. 

These retreats and relaxation business trips surely alter air trends. In 2024, places like Brisbane, Australia, Japan, and Thailand are expected to receive more business travelers than they did in prior years. 

The confluence of business and leisure, “bleisure”, steers the modern professional towards tranquil retreats beyond the traditional corporate landscape.
Photo: PeskyMonkey/ Shutterstock.com

8. Expect your plane to be fuller, faster

Another side effect of increased travel by air projections is full airplanes. These projections are going to drastically change how travel agents and individuals alike book their tickets. 

Purchasing flights earlier and selecting seats ASAP to ensure people sit together and get their preferences will be a must in 2024.

Flights will be fuller sooner than normal with increases in travel. Bookings should be completed three to four months in advance for international trips and at least six to eight weeks before domestic trips, according to Brian Kelly, CEO of The Points Guy. 

Leaving plenty of time to make all the selections and make appropriate changes is crucial to avoiding stressful situations with bookings in 2024. 

Air travel swells, necessitating prompt bookings and careful seat selection to tailor your flight to your needs.
Photo: Have a nice day Photo/ Shutterstock.com

9. People may be more picky with air travel

One trend we’ve noticed is that travelers by air are beginning to hold preferences and prejudices against or for certain places as travel has returned. In 2024, people don’t want to be packed into places like sardines. They also seem to want genuine cultural exposure rather than canned tourist experiences. 

A sign of this attitude is Fodor’s Annual No List, which cites over-tourism as one of the reasons why people no longer should travel to certain destinations. It may or may not surprise you, but some favorite destinations live on this list: Venice, Athens, and Mt. Fuji, Japan. 

Time will only tell if these destinations and other extremely popular cities see less travel this year. We’re also curious to see which cities become more popular to travel to by air in their place if that’s the case.

As wanderlust awakens, travelers seek more than just sights; they crave authentic cultural encounters far from the throng.
Photo: margouillat photo/ Shutterstock.com

In 2024, we look forward to seeing some of these positive trends impact travel for the better, and we caution people to be aware of the more frustrating trends like busy airports and competitive ticket sales. 

RateHawk is a service that assists travel agencies and tour operators with booking air tickets, hotels, and other travel services.

Preparation is the best way to avoid frustrating mishaps with tickets, seating, and getting through airport security.

To learn more about how RateHawk can assist you with navigating air travel in 2024, read more on our blog here

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Cover: freepik.com

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