There are some neat new changes on the travel horizon.
The travel landscape is shifting. Millennials are making moves for shorter vacations, airlines are offering lie-flat seats where flyers can catch some sleep and later in the year, hotels will introduce technology that turns your phone into a room key. Find out the top 2014 travel trends here:
1. Upgraded Seats
Domestic airlines are trying to work transcontinental cabins to attract deep-pocketed customers. American Airlines now offers lie-flat seats on the Boeing 777 and Airbus A321 Transcontinental. So if you're traveling first or business class between New York and London, you can put your seat back and catch some sleep. The country's longest lie-flat seats are up to 22.3 inches wide. That's putting leisure into business travelers itinerary.
2. Electronic Check-in
In the entrance of airports, many airlines have set up computer booths to electronically check in and print boarding passes. Oftentimes, this means that instead of waiting in line for two human representatives, in the upcoming years you might be waiting for a self-service computer.
3. Children-Free Zones
Everyone has been on a flight with a screaming baby. As a result, there are now children-free zones on aircraft, introduced by AirAsia X and Singapore Air, where under-12s are banned from a certain area and cordoned off from the remaining passengers via a curtain, galleys and exit doors. Despite how it may seem, the move is actually a win-win. Some parents have written that they feel less stressed and guilty if their child is restless, and of course, the other passengers get to fly in peace.
4. Phone as Room Key
As technology continues to blossom, Aloft, the hotel brand that already enabled check-in via text message, will soon let visitors use their mobile device to enter the room. Aloft didn't go at it alone, though. They worked with Swedish lock company Assa Abloy on the blue-tooth design, which, accompanied by a physical gesture with the phone, unlocks your door.
5. Airplane Mode
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration announced in late 2013 that it is acceptable to use electronics on all phases of the flight. This includes reading e-books, playing video games and watching movies on, with limited exceptions. Cell phones must be in airplane mode, but they don't have to be powered down anymore. Implementation varies among airlines.
6. Lavish Lounges
Waiting spaces are getting a little nicer, at least in airports like Dallas/Fort Worth, where Centurion Lounges by American Express feature upscale dining, a cocktail menu and plenty of reclining space perfect for leisure travel.
7. A Friendlier TSA?
In 2014, the Transportation Security Administration is trying to make the security experience more enjoyable. Some TSA officers have the power to wave passengers into a shortened security line if they judge them to be a low-security risk, like families. Other officials in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport have been telling jokes while customers wait, all in an effort to keep calm and carry on.
8. The Emerging Demographic
Millennials are aiming to be part of the "working wealthy" in order to launch on short-but-sweet vacations. Cruise lines have already begun creating shorter trips to meet their demand. For example, this spring season, six cruise lines – more than ever before – offered abridged vacations out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, narrowing things down to three to five nights instead of five to seven.
9. Bike Sharing
In the last few years, there has been an explosion of bike sharing across U.S. Cities such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco launched their systems, causing the bike-sharing fleet in the country to double. In 2013, New York's Citi Bike system recorded more than 5 million rides, and other bike-friendly cities are adding protected bike lanes and traffic lights just for cyclists. For visitors who want to see the attractions along a family-fun, outdoor route, renting a bike certainly ranks among the quality vacation tips.