Remember those well-intended New Year’s resolutions? We should know by now that in every aspect, each year ends differently to our expectations – and travel is no different.
While some trends have continued, like the industry’s drive to make travel as sustainable as possible, 2018 has brought all manner of surprises: some good, some bad, and some intriguing enough to pique the interest of even the most intrepid of explorers.
From the launch of the world's longest-ever flight to the planned expansion of Heathrow Airport, we've seen some pretty significant changes over the past 12 months – a year that’s expected to see a record number of Brits jetting away for work or pleasure. So what were the most important developments?
Read on for the Flexicover team's guide to the biggest travel industry news of 2018.
Third runway for Heathrow Airport
After decades of debate, it was confirmed in July that a third runway will be built at Europe's busiest airport. Due for completion by 2026, the new runway is expected to increase the airport's annual number of takeoffs and landings from 480,000 to 740,000, an upturn of 54 per cent. While the subject has proven contentious in the past, the £14 billion scheme won an overwhelming parliamentary majority, with 415 MPs voting in favour and only 119 voting against. It's not yet clear what, if any, new routes will be added once the runway opens, but it's worth noting that African and Latin American destinations are currently underserved by Heathrow, so we’re hoping for expansion to these destinations.
Flights become longer
Do you love the feeling of settling down for a long flight, knowing you've got hours of inclusive food, drink and movies coming your way? Then it must have been good news in October, as that’s when Singapore Airlines launched the world's longest-ever direct flight. The route between New York's Newark International and Changmi in Singapore covers 9,534 miles in just under 19 hours - that's long enough to watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy twice over. Only two other flights run over 9,000 miles: between Doha and Auckland, and London and Perth, which launched in March as the only direct service between the UK and Australia. Could these developments inspire other airlines to launch super-long flights, cutting down on the need for layovers?
Solo travellers are on the rise
Travel agents have been reporting a rise in solo travel in recent years, and 2018 became the year it went mainstream. While exact booking figures are still being totted up, the social media site Pinterest reported an increase of up to 600 per cent in solo travel related pins this year. And with a predicted 50 per cent of workers working remotely by 2020, the trend looks set to continue in years to come. That means not only are many packages ditching a hefty single supplement to become more competitive, but also the cultural perception of solo travel is changing. Good news all around.
Eurostar's London to Amsterdam route lures travellers out of the sky
You don't have to be a ferroequinologist (that's someone who studies trains, btw) to appreciate the benefits of travelling by rail. It's much easier to wander around than on an aeroplane, plus you can hop on and off wherever you want, within reason. Unsurprisingly, Eurostar agree that train travel can be a pretty wonderful thing. Launched in April, their route from London St Pancras to Amsterdam has been hailed a roaring success, already attracting more than 130,000 travellers. While there’s a change involved on the return trip, each journey takes four hours to five hours, so it's easy to see the appeal.
South-East Asia prioritises sustainability over profits
Travel is a major money-spinner for Southeast Asia, but all that tourism can take its toll on the environment. Tiny islands often find themselves overrun with litter, and the footfall can be damaging to delicate beaches. Fortunately, South-East Asian governments are taking action to protect these beautiful locations. In 2018 in the Philippines, visitor numbers to the paradise island of Boracay were capped at 19,000 a night and single-use plastic is banned. In Thailand, overnight stays on the idyllic Similan Islands are no longer allowed, while Maya Bay – the world-famous setting for the film The Beach - was indefinitely closed to tourists this summer. It's worth it to ensure that these incredible locations retain their natural beauty for the long term.
Wherever you choose to travel to over the coming year it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.