Published on Monday, December 26, 2011

The bad news on airline fees and other top travel trends for 2012

 Deeper discounts and even higher airline fees are among top travel trends for 2012, observers say, with value continuing to be emphasized

The top trend, an emphasis on value, will lead the travel industry overall to see rising demand for discounted trips like package vacations, all-inclusives and cruises, according to Cheapflights.

Their other top five predictions:

(2) PetRelocation.com reported that almost one-third of pet owners planned to take their pets outside of the United States on an international retreat last year. “This comes just as countries worldwide rewrite travel requirements to lessen the burden and fees for passengers flying with animals,” says Cheapflights.

(3) This New Year is set to see the introduction of a new vacation trend: athletic voluntourism. “Born out of the popular participation in famous world races such as the New York or London marathons, this trend is growing and spreading into other areas of sport including cycling, hiking, walking and even wheel chair racing for many worthy causes,” the site says.

(4) Reality competitions like “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race” have long offered viewers around-the-world trips from the comfort of their own couches. Now other reality shows are stepping up the destination game, creating episodes and entire seasons around a single destination.

(5) Comfort, perks and new ways to upgrade will define the face of flying for 2012. Airlines are looking at inventive ways to sell upgrades.

Brett Synder, founder of the site Cranky Concierge, has some predictions for air travel. He tells CNN that while some travelers wish that fees would disappear, that's not going to happen.

“Some new rules from the federal government will make it a little easier to find fee information up front, but fees are proving to be a great way for the airlines to be able to offer lower base fares and then let people pay more if they want more,” he writes for CNN.

Mobile devices will be even more important in airline travel this year, suggests Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group. He expects that 2012 will be "the first year that airlines see a meaningful number of reservations made through mobile devices."

US airlines will continue this year to reduce capacity both domestically here and on international flights, predicts Holly Hegeman, founder of PlaneBusiness.com.

"Specifically, Southwest Airlines will be removing service in many AirTran markets as the airlines' merger moves forward, and American Airlines will cut back on its service in certain markets as part of its bankruptcy restructuring,” she told CNN.

By David Wilkening

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