Ed Perkins on Travel: 2022: What stuck

Every December, as we look back and add up what happened in the past 12 months, we can easily tally a whole bunch of actions and developments that took place. What’s tougher — but more important — is what happened that will stick around for a while and influence your future travel experience. These days, the buzz word is “transformative,” and transformative events are often relatively rare. Here’s my take on 2022 events that will have ongoing impact.

Travel Overall. Almost everyone has indicated some surprise at how strong the urge to travel is among the general population. Pandemic? Staff shortages? Inflation? War? None of it seemed to dampen the desire of folks to go somewhere. I think we can safely conclude that future calamities are likely to be overcome or ignored as readily.

Airline. 2022 is likely to be remembered as the year when frequent flyer programs nosedived. Yes, people are still using charge cards that rack up the miles and a few still go on mileage runs, but to me, it’s a new ball game. Airlines have raised the mileage “price” of award tickets so much that the incentive is no longer there. My recent trip to Europe is an example. When I first booked it in 2020, a business class round-trip from my home airport in Medford, Oregon, to Germany cost 120,000 miles with a good itinerary. When I was finally able to take it, I paid something like 160,000 miles for a less desirable itinerary. And to book it today, I’d probably have to pay more than 200,000 miles for an