Week in Review: Southwest Resumes Operations, Top Travel Predictions

After a nightmare over the Christmas holiday, Southwest Airlines is back up and running. From December 21 to December 30, 2022, the airline canceled upwards of 60 percent of its flights—totaling more than 15,000 flights. Southwest resumed “normal operations” before New Year’s, but it continues to be affected by the disruption—mainly in reuniting passengers with luggage and in repaying customers who had to book other flights.

According to a statement by CEO Bob Jordan shared this week, Southwest is “making great progress by processing tens of thousands of refunds and reimbursements a day and will not let up until we have responded to every impacted Customer. We also sent a goodwill gesture of 25,000 Rapid Rewards Points this week to all Customers significantly disrupted.”

He additionally reports that the “majority” of bags have either reunited or on their way to its customers.

In all, according to research by Cirium, Southwest ranked fifth in North America in 2022 when it came to on-time arrivals (74.06 percent). Coming out on top for the region was Delta (83.63 percent), followed by United (80.46), Alaska (80.36) and American (78.29). Globally, Brazil-based Azul Airlines was the timeliest (88.93 percent). It was followed by ANA, Japan Airlines, LATAM and then Delta.

In the U.S., Salt Lake, Detroit, Philadelphia, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle-Tacoma and Charlotte airports all made the top 10 (globally) in terms of on-time departures.

Pretty cool: Grab My Bag, headquartered in St. Louis, will made make its debut this February. It is a tech-enabled delivery service that transports luggage from airport baggage claims to the traveler’s requested location, allowing them to land and immediately head to their destination.

Cruises Expand Sales Teams

Katina Athanasiou
Celebrity Cruises named Katina Athanasiou its new vice president of sales, the Americas. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

In what we can only assume is more good news for the cruise industry, several lines this week announced additions to their sales teams.

Greece-based Celestyal Cruises added Kathleen Levy as business development manager for the South-Central region, based in Texas, as well as Kristina Murphy, who has been appointed inside sales executive, based in Washington state.

Celebrity Cruises recently announced that industry veteran Katina Athanasiou has been appointed vice president of sales, the Americas. Most recently, she served as senior vice president, sales at Silversea Cruises. Prior, she served as chief sales officer for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

Following Athanasiou’s move to sister brand Celebrity, Silversea reorganized its trade sales team in the Americas. Cruise industry veteran Joe Leon will now lead the luxury cruise line’s trade sales in the market.

Virgin Voyages also added to its team, welcoming Sean Russo as its first sales manager for Canada, based in the Toronto area. Russo will oversee the entire Canadian sales territory and work closely with John Diorio, Virgin Voyages’ vice president of North American sales.

What’s in Store for 2023

a neon graphic of a person wearing VR goggles that read "metaverse"
The Metaverse will educate, entertain and inspire people, opening the door to new travel opportunities, says Booking.com. (Photo by wacomka/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

According to recent research by Booking.com, travelers are feeling overwhelmingly more optimistic about traveling in 2023 compared to 2022 and, despite some current instability felt globally, nearly three quarters report that traveling will always be worth it. That’s pretty good news—but what might travel look like this year?

For one, “off-grid” travel is expected to be more popular—although that won’t exactly mean roughing it. While nearly half of Americans report wanting a more “back-to-basics” feel (with 58 percent wanting to “escape from reality”), 60 percent still say phone and Internet connection at their destination is essential. So, perhaps, only unplugged as desired.

Along similar lines, Americans say they want to experience culture shock in 2023—be it exploring somewhere with entirely different languages or lesser-known cities that aren’t already on the radar. Other popular destinations might include those that were seemingly past their heyday. Millennials and Gen Zs want “to disappear into the romanticism of a pre-digital era,” with a quarter wanting to visit landmarks or attractions featured in iconic films.

Before they take to the roads, skies or seas, however, VR and AR are expected to play a new role travel. The Metaverse will be more than "try before you buy;" it will educate, entertain and inspire people, opening the door to new travel opportunities. In addition, haptic feedback will make virtual travel a truly immersive experience.

Wellness travel is also about to get a new look. Alternative substances, such as cannabis or plant-based psychedelics like ayahuasca or mushrooms, will become a more mainstream offering, with 42 percent keen to try this kind of experimental wellness experience as part of their 2023 travels.

Related Stories

Royal Caribbean Introduces Caribbean Cruises for 2024-25

AmEx Reopens Newly Expanded Centurion Lounge at SFO

Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club Launches Air Charter Service

G.E.T. Educational Tours Joins WorldStrides in Australia