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Northern lights, Paris Olympics, and more: Airline CEO says these travel trends will dominate 2024

2024's top travel trends according to airline CEO

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PLAY Airlines, founded in 2019, emerged as a dynamic force in the aviation industry with the mission to redefine low-cost air travel. PLAY’s first flight was completed in 2020, and it has since greatly expanded its route network, connecting travelers across Europe and North America. Currently, PLAY is led by CEO Mr. Birgir Jónsson. 

Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Jónsson and to discuss the anticipated 2024 travel trends as well as the exciting prospects that lie ahead for low-budget airlines. Mr. Jónsson provides a glimpse into the strategies and innovations that will propel PLAY Airlines to new heights within the exciting realm of aviation.

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An inside look at travel in 2024

In your view, what are the key market trends shaping travel in 2024, and how is your airline adapting its strategies to align with these trends?

Demand for international travel surged in 2023, and 2024 will be no exception. The flood of tourists in Europe shows no signs of stopping, plus the 2024 Olympics in Paris will spark international travel this year. It leans into a rise in experiential travel, where consumers are traveling internationally to see their favorite band in concert or witness their favorite teams take the field instead of getting these experiences in the U.S. 

The solar cycle is expected to reach its highest point in 2024, making it a peak year for viewing the Northern Lights. Consumers are eager to travel to Iceland and other destinations to catch a glimpse of this natural phenomenon. PLAY’s convenient and affordable flights from Boston, D.C., and New York to over 30 European destinations align with the rise in these experiences, with low fares that enable travelers to allocate more of their budget to experiences rather than on the airfare to get there. Plus, PLAY is adding exciting new destinations and features for travelers this year, including new flights to Split, Croatia.

The airline also recently announced that travelers can choose to take advantage of a long stopover in Iceland at no extra cost to their original flight on to another European destination, which will enable exploration in Iceland to capitalize on the trend of viewing the Northern Lights without adding to travel costs.

plane boarding at sunset
Anugrah Lohiya / Pexels

Are there certain travel experiences or specialized services that you anticipate gaining popularity in 2024, and how is the industry responding to these unique demands?

Travelers are seeking any excuse to get on the road – and in the air. Data shows that consumers sought new and unusual reasons to travel in 2023 – such as romantic getaways and special events – making small celebrations big, with international travel expected to continue to rise. If travelers can’t get tickets to their favorite events in the U.S., they find more affordable tickets abroad and travel internationally to experience their favorite shows and concerts.

To accommodate the rise in experiential travel, low-cost airlines are expanding routes to new destinations, adding new exciting travel features, and offering low fares that bring experiential trips within reach at any budget. 

Paris, France skyline in daytime
Sadnos / Pixabay

What European destinations do you anticipate gaining popularity among low-budget travelers in 2024, and how are airlines adjusting their services to meet the demand for these destinations?

PLAY anticipates that Paris will continue to be a popular destination and that London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen will be highly sought after. To prepare for the popularity of these destinations, PLAY offers daily flights from its U.S. hubs to over 30 European destinations with a short layover in Iceland. With convenient daily flights, travelers can book affordable flights to even the most high-demand destinations in Europe this year. 

As more travelers flock to Europe for getaways, airlines are adding flights and destinations to their rosters to accommodate demand. 

mammela / Pixabay

Are there specific less explored or off-the-beaten-path destinations that you anticipate gaining popularity in 2024?

PLAY anticipates that less explored European destinations including Alicante, Billund, Gothenburg, and more will gain popularity in 2024 as travelers seek new and exciting places to explore while avoiding crowds and staying within their travel budget. 

Young man relaxing with his laptop by a pool.
Humphrey Muleba / Unsplash

With the rise of remote work, do you foresee an increase in “workation” trends, and how might this impact travel patterns in 2024?

With more people working from anywhere, consumers are taking advantage of booking extended international vacations where they can enjoy a “bleisure” travel. PLAY anticipates that this trend will be another factor that impacts the influx in international travel in 2024. 

PLAY Airlines
Markus Mainka / Shutterstock

In the context of the low-budget airline sector, how do you foresee the affordability and accessibility of air travel evolving in 2024, and what steps is your airline taking to maintain competitive pricing?

PLAY welcomes competition to the low-cost market as the industry continues to expand. Even as more low-cost options become available, PLAY will continue to stand out with lower prices, friendly, streamlined service, convenient routes, and high on-time performance. PLAY offers a streamlined, no-frills service, enabling passengers to allocate their budget to the meaningful experiences that make their trip memorable. 

PLAY’s hub-and-spoke model and streamlined service enables the airline to maintain competitive pricing, keeping operational costs low, which results in low prices for travelers. The airline is focused on strategic expansion, growing at a measured rate so it can maintain low prices.

An airplane midflight as seen from below
elpratviu / Pixabay

How do you see the positioning of low-budget airlines in the overall travel market evolving in 2024?

While there are skeptics of low-cost airlines, these carriers continue to grow – with the low-cost airline market expected to reach $215.4 billion by 2028. With many low-cost airlines announcing new destinations (including PLAY’s new route to Croatia), 2024 will be another year of growth. 

PLAY is already seeing a strong booking pattern for this spring and summer as consumers view low-cost travel as an attractive option for booking vacations without wasting their budget on airfare to get to their final destination. Travelers are eager to book getaways to destinations that have been on their travel bucket list for years, which will continue to drive the growth of the low-cost market. 

Back view of people seated on an airplane
Pew Nguyen / Pexels

As travel preferences evolve, how is your airline adapting to changing passenger behavior and preferences, especially among budget-conscious travelers, and what new services or features can passengers expect in 2024?

Passengers want to get more for their travel budget, focusing on packing as many activities and excursions as possible into one trip. 

To accommodate this behavior, PLAY is now offering travelers a free stopover in Iceland before continuing on to their final destination, which makes it easy for passengers to explore Iceland before continuing on to their final destination. PLAY passengers will get even more out of their travel budget with this BOGO experience!

As travelers demand in-flight amenities, PLAY added new in-flight entertainment with fun, family-friendly video games available on passengers’ personal devices such as Chess and Candy Crush. PLAY also offers a varied menu of food, beverages, and snacks on board. Now, with PLAY’s newest in-flight offering, passengers can easily browse the menu and order meals, snacks, and drinks right from the comfort of their seats on their personal devices.

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