3 Biggest Travel Stories of 2019

The end of a decade, and another year in the books; people are travelling more than ever. According to the World Tourism Organization, the number of international tourist arrivals went up to 1.4 billion in 2018. With this year being consistent in that, and with the meetings and events industry projected to have increases across the board, what better way to prep for the new year than to take a look back.

Smart Meetings covered the biggest travel stories of the year, from saving consumer capital to saving a consumer’s time. Here are three that will have implications for not just years ahead, but for the next decade.

1. The U.S. Grounds Boeing 737 Max Flights

The Boeing 737 Max was the fastest-selling airliner in Boeing history, selling over 5,000 aircraft over a few years. But in April and May, Boeing sold zero. It was a popular plane due to its price and size, until a particular sensor became a problem, which eventually led to two fatal crashes in five months, killing everyone on both flights: 346 people total. When the second of the two tragedies occurred in March, President Trump announced that the U.S. would ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.

Since then, there has been a worldwide grounding of the 737 Max, lawsuits from pilots and from families affected by the crashes, congressional hearings and a criminal investigation launched by the U.S. Department of Justice. Boeing took a long time to address the issues, which only seems to have made things worse. With modifications to the plane’s software underway and hopes that it will fly again soon, the question remains: Will Boeing be able to bounce back?

2. United Saves 40,000 Customers from Missed Flights

Through advanced technology, ConnectionSaver from United automatically scans flights for customers who are making tight connections to determine whether a flight can be held or not. This is done along with ensuring already-boarded passengers arrive at their destination on time.

ConnectionSaver also sends every connecting customer (who opted to receive text notifications) directions to the gate of the connecting flight and an estimated time of arrival to the gate. According to USA Today, flights held were delayed an average of six minutes.

3. Prepare for a New LAX Rideshare Experience

Death, taxes and LAX traffic. To try and cure the headache that is being stuck-in traffic, specifically getting in or out of LAX, launched was LAX-it. On Oct. 29, LAX-it was implemented, making ride-share curbside pickups a thing of the past at LAX. Instead, Ubers, Lyfts, and Taxis have their own designated area to pick up patrons. The change will create a dedicated lane for shuttle buses on the lower arrivals level that will take passengers to a new pick-up lot

According to Forbes, the shuttles are scheduled to arrive every three to five minutes during peak hours. LAX staff will be available at each shuttle stop to assist you. And if you don’t want to wait for the bus, or if you’d like to stretch your legs, you’re welcome to walk to LAX-it. The lot, adjacent to Terminal One, is said to be around twenty-minutes or less by foot.

Smart Meetings got to experience the new system during its first weekend of being implemented. Though the area makes sense and is actually only a few minutes’ walk from terminals that house Southwest and other common domestic airlines, there are logistical problems. Later than noon, the area swells and traffic seeps into the surrounding streets. Though that was a few months ago, the system could be more efficient now.