Travel wishlist for 2016
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London - So, what’s in store for travel in 2016? The Independent asks prominent travel writers about what they want to happen in the new year.
Richard Quest, presenter of CNN's Quest Means Business (@richardquest)
Airlines, hotels, car-hire companies - you have all put the squeeze on your loyalty programmes; suddenly it is all about you. Well, I've got news for you: if you're going to move the goalposts and make life difficult for business travellers, then expect us to take revenge. Remember, we are the customers - earn our loyalty!
Sarah Barrell, travel writer (@TravelBarrell)
I'd like to see a relaxation of the daft if not draconian rules on taking children out of school for holidays, following the landmark case recently overturned by Jon Platt who proved that his daughter attended school “regularly” enough to forgo the imposed fine. These rulings from a magistrates' court won't set a precedent elsewhere but here's hoping sense - and a change of the law - prevails.
Stephen Bayley, design critic and writer
What about the renaissance of the travel agent? Just imagine a small, focused, premium business with polite, personal service. One that can offer interesting and opinionated advice as well as making efficient reservations. I can't be the only person who would pay generously for the authoritative human touch in preference to the dismaying Kafkaesque anomie of online booking and the cynical pseudo-democracy of collaborative media. It'll happen.
Lyn Hughes, founder of Wanderlust magazine (@Wanderlust_Lyn)
Banish check-in luggage charges. People have become obsessed with taking everything in their hand luggage. It leads to over-stuffed overhead lockers, sleeping passengers being disturbed (I've twice had bags fall on me). And the alarming scenes when a plane caught fire in Las Vegas, and passengers took their luggage down the emergency shute with them.
Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet
On recent stays in Hong Kong (Hotel Icon) and in Singapore (Wanderlust and New Majestic) I was given a smart phone to use during my stay. That meant free internet, free local calls and free international calls to a handy list of countries. And no more getting whacked by your own phone company's international roaming charges. I'd like to see more of that.
Justin Francis, CEO of ResponsibleTravel.com (@justinmfrancis)
I'd like to see less fear in travel; fewer people fearful of doing something incredible and booking the mundane instead; fewer people fearful of different cultures, or fearful of terrorism. And fewer local people in destinations who are fearful of how tourism might impact upon their culture and environments.
Nicola Trup, deputy head of travel, The Independent (@nickytrup)
A fanciful idea, but I'd love British rail travel to become cheaper. As it is now, you can fly from London to Oslo and back for as little as £15 (about R300), while the cheapest advance return train ticket that I can find to the Lake District is just shy of £100. It's a ridiculous state of affairs, and it means that I've not seen nearly as much of the UK as I'd like to.
Toby Sawday, managing director, Sawday's Special Places to Stay (@tsawday)
I'd love a level playing field for anyone opening their homes to strangers. The explosion of the home-stay phenomenon brings a rich sense of human connection to travel, but it's only fair that those who've registered officially and paid tourist taxes are not then out-priced by those who operate outside these rules (and costs) by using these new platforms.
Carolyn McCall, CEO, easyJet
Abolishing Air Passenger Duty (APD), which has a negative impact on tourism, investment and business activity. The UK has already abolished APD (£13 per UK outbound flight) for children, which was a welcome move. The Scottish government has committed to halving APD for all in Scotland, with a view ultimately to abolishing it. This will significantly benefit passengers there, as well as people travelling to and from Scotland. Westminster is considering how it should respond to ensure that English airports remain competitive. The only solution is to halve the tax across the rest of the UK and then set a clear plan to abolish it.
Mark Jones, travel writer and editor (@markmywordsltd)
There's a big issue that the airlines, hotels and tour operators are going to have to confront: what do you do when the behaviour of some of your customers annoys the hell out of the others? So, in 2016 I'd like to see travellers voluntarily adopt a code of conduct where we don't invade others' space by phoning, shouting or eating fast food in confined areas. As this won't happen, travel brands will have to turn enforcer to protect the interests of the silent majority.
Kerry Smith, editor of British Airways' High Life magazine (@kerrysmith01)
2016 should be the anti-bucket-list year, when people to start going to places they are properly curious about, rather than merely destinations to tick off.
Mark Tanzer, CEO, Abta, the travel association (@ABTATravel)
I would like to see a strong pound continuing to keep holiday costs down, the Government to give the go-ahead for extra airport capacity, authorities around the world to avoid the easy option of levying taxes on tourists, an end to the uncertainty about our membership of the EU and most importantly, a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the Middle East.
Chris Leadbeater, travel writer (@leadbeaterchris)
Free wi-fi in all hotels - from one-star boltholes to five-star temples. Quite why the planet's most palatial retreats still think it is fine to charge £15 a day for a service that coffee shops now provide as one of the basics of modern life is a true travel mystery.
Tamara Heber-Percy, co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith (@SmithHotels)
There are two things I'd like to see change. The first is more information when it comes to booking a hotel room; as a mother I need to know if I can book an interconnecting room. Or, if you're going on honeymoon you'll want to know if a room has a view or a terrace - booking technology needs to improve to simplify this process. The second thing is investment and innovation in transport, including Hyperloop experimentation and faster links between cities - especially in the UK where we plan to create a northern powerhouse, but can't until we've refined the infrastructure.
Sophie Lam, head of travel, The Independent (@SophieLamTravel)
Travel to Britain's airports ought to become cheaper and easier. Too often, the journey can cost more than the flight itself and now that most airports levy “kiss and drop” charges on passengers arriving by road, we ought to be actively encouraged to take public transport. Stansted, Ryanair's London base, is currently served by one “express” rail option, which takes 47 minutes and costs £32 return from London.
Aoife O'Riordain, travel writer
I'd like to see hotels adopt a more accommodating approach to check-in times. It's such a bonus to be shown to your room in the morning just after you have landed from a long-haul flight. The same goes for packing your bags - it's refreshing to be able to dictate when you want to check out, but without being charged a stiff price for the privilege.
Simon Calder, travel correspondent, The Independent (@SimonCalder)
Every time you feel frustration at the mechanics of travel, remember: you are living at the best of all possible times to be a traveller, with wider horizons, lower costs and greater safety than at any time in human history. So show some appreciation! Don't let delays and disruption get you down; make the most of this wonder-filled world.
Katy Ellis, operations manager for the Ski Club of Great Britain's Freshtracks programme
The additional cost of ski carriage levied by airlines is a frustrating extra, especially when ski holidays are not always cheap. As such, we see a lot of customers not taking their own skis to avoid carriage prices, instead preferring to rent in-resort. I'd like to see airlines cater for the ski customer, considering their fare structure to include or certainly reduce ski carriage costs.
Mike London, editor, BBC Travel Show
Let's hope that 2016 sees more competitive pricing from the major airlines. Thanks in part to the substantial drop in the cost of aviation fuel, many airlines have recently been quietly turning in a healthy profit - they say they need the money to invest in the future but let's hope some of it makes its way back into passengers' pockets in the form of cheaper tickets. With no-frills operators such as Norwegian and Wow now aggressively targeting the transatlantic market, hopefully we'll see some tempting offers from the major airlines between Europe and North America in 2016.
Chloë Hamilton, writer, The Independent (@chloehamilton)
Without wanting to be a (selfie) stick-in-the-mud, I'd like to see more people put their iPhones down in 2016. I'm as guilty as the next person of “checking in” before I check in, but as tempting as it is to share a photo of yourself grinning like a Cheshire cat in front of the Taj Mahal while your colleagues battle the nine-to-five, it's a shame to waste the trip of a lifetime searching for wi-fi and waiting for Facebook to load.