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Is 'Budget Travel' A Done Deal? Here's What We Found
The headlines blare from a mile away: budget travel is dead, and the COVID-19 pandemic is to blame. But is this claim true, or is this more hysteria from a desperate travel industry? Upon further examination, the evidence seems to suggest a little of both.
First, it bears noting that it’s true that budget travel has taken a huge hit since the pandemic. But that’s true of all travel. Now, everything that the airline industry is seeing in gains in 2021 and beyond has to make up for the disastrous year that was 2020.
The most infamous example of this is the case of EasyJet, the budget airline popular in Europe. According to Bloomberg, the company recently petitioned its investors for more than $1 billion, and that was only to pay down its already existing debt, not pay it off completely. And this ask doesn’t even take into account that the airline isn’t proving its viability by offering super-discounted fares.
“The pandemic was expected to trigger consolidation in Europe’s fragmented airline market — but with EasyJet as one of the winners, not the prey. It hasn’t turned out that way, at least not yet. While EasyJet’s board was probably right to reject Wizz’s approach, it’ll now have to do a better job of creating value on its own,” reports the outlet.
American budget travel is faring no better.
With the fallout from Spirit Airlines’ recent mass cancellations continuing to hang over the airline’s head, and increasingly bad behavior tainting the flying experience on such airlines as Southwest and Frontier, super-cheap discount travel is looking less appealing. And as airlines continue to mandate social distancing guidelines, passengers aren’t keen to cram themselves like sardines into tight spaces. As a result, the era of budget travel may truly be over.
But what will come in its place?
One option is the pay-in-four option that has become increasingly popular with the rise of such apps as Klarna and Afterpay.
According to Yahoo Finance, Uplift has partnered with KAYAK to bring travelers a buy now, pay later option on an enterprise scale. With the promise of luxury travel becoming more affordable to the average traveler, a pay-in-four or a buy-now-pay-later option will certainly do its part to save the industry.
“As BNPL becomes a bigger part of the mainstream payment option for travel purchases, KAYAK will expand its Uplift offering from desktop only to the mobile web and app booking experience. Now, travelers will enjoy even greater payment flexibility with interest-free installment options available for a limited time, a lower minimum transaction amount of just $100, and $0 down at booking,” says the outlet.
Another option puts a twist on “budget travel.”
The Elude app, which is currently available in the Apple Store, lets its users know where it can travel based on a pre-specified budget. CNBC also says that there are other apps in a beta format that are similar to Elude, which will soon be available to both Apple and Android users.
Even if the days of $15 seats are behind us, budget travel will still be available…just in a different form.