Last updated on January 24th, 2024 at 01:32 pm
Happy New Year! I can’t believe how quickly 2023 came and went! As such, it’s time for me to do my 2024 outlook post. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do one, primarily due to my lack of travel for reasons I outlined in my 2023 year-in-review post. But what the heck? I can’t evolve what these posts are, right?
2023 was an unusually quiet year for me, with just one trip to the Big Island in the books. 2024 will likely be much of the same and maybe the status quo for me for the foreseeable future. That’s why I hesitated about writing this post – I really have no travel plans to report on. Alas, I decided to continue this tradition and will include travel industry predictions I have and can revisit at the end of the year.
My 2024 Outlook
Though I’ve scaled back my already small amounts of travel, I do still have one trip to report on for my 2024 outlook. And that trip is a three-day weekend on Maui. Regular readers may remember that I rescheduled my Labor Day 2023 Hyatt Regency Maui stay for a future date in 2024. I intend to keep that trip as planned and have even booked the flights and rental car. So, as it stands, this is what my 2024 stats will look like:
- Hyatt: 2 (award nights)
- Southwest: 204 miles (redemption)
Currently, I have two separate reservations with Alamo, but I have been checking on prices frequently. One is for a standard vehicle, while the other is for a luxury one. The price difference right now is about $50 for the three days. I’m inclined to keep the luxury car, as we plan on driving quite a bit while on Maui, but we’ll see.
It’s worth mentioning that this trip will likely be a bit different than what regular readers are used to. Dining will become less of an emphasis, and I’m not really all that sure what we’ll do on-island aside from spending time at Haleakala National Park during our one full day. This ought to be interesting.
Honestly, I considered canceling this trip, but I need a break. I also considered shifting away from Maui in favor of the Big Island or Kauai, but I do want to check out the Hyatt Regency Maui. I have no desire to spend another night at the Grand Naniloa in Hilo, and I’m still determining where I’d want to stay on Kauai – especially since the Grand Hyatt’s redemption rate went up. That’s what’s partly making me keep this Maui trip, too, as the Hyatt there jumped up a tier, though Hyatt was kind enough to gift me additional points so that my rescheduled trip doesn’t cost me anything extra.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m going to include travel industry predictions in my 2024 outlook post, as well as future outlook posts I make. However, this year, predictions have more weight to them, considering the bombshell Hawaiian acquisition news we got at the end of 2023. Speaking of…
Alaska executives stated that it’ll be 12 to 18 months before their acquisition of Hawaiian closes. I’m guessing that the timeline will be closer to the 18-month side of things. After all, JetBlue and Spirit reached their agreement in July 2022. Their case only went to trial this past October – 15 months after their initial announcement – and who knows how long the trial will take. Of course, this kind of timeline is only necessary if the Department of Justice attempts to block the acquisition.
While there might be pushback from the Feds, the Alaska-Hawaiian tie-up is fundamentally different from that of JetBlue-Spirit. JetBlue is a low-cost carrier, while Spirit is an ultra-low-cost carrier. JetBlue acquiring Spirit will eliminate one of two large ULCCs, increasing fares. Further, the two airlines have quite a bit of overlap, deepening fears regarding reduced competition. With Alaska and Hawaiian, the two overlap on the West Coast, but the combined airline will still only control 50% of that market and will be kept in check by the Big Four – American, Delta, Southwest, and United.
Plus, when considering the Alaska-Hawaiian acquisition, it’s important to note the dire situation Hawaiian is in. There are genuine concerns the airline won’t be able to survive on its own. Unless things change for the better soon, Hawaiian is, at minimum, at risk of filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy again and, at worse, being acquired by another entity. Though a non-industry player could purchase Hawaiian, I’m sure another airline is the most likely to make a move, and the Alaska Air acquisition has far less competitive concerns than the Big Four.
That said, I don’t think anything will change for Alaska or Hawaiian guests in 2024. Even if the merger does manage to close this year, it will only happen at the end of the year. And, yes, that would result in some immediate changes, but most changes likely won’t happen until 2025 and beyond.
Speaking of B6 and NK, let’s talk about them next in my 2024 outlook predictions. I largely expect this merger to go through after a hefty amount of concessions. After all, like Hawaiian (and, perhaps, even more so), NK is financially unwell. It’s clear that the airline will fail without a massive infusion of cash or being acquired. Of course, B6 isn’t doing so hot, either, though they seem to think gaining access to NK’s pilots and planes will help them out.
If B6 somehow doesn’t get approved, I expect F9 (Frontier) to try acquiring NK again. They’re in a much better financial position, though still not doing all that great and consolidating would help strengthen their position. But, again, antitrust issues may block this effort. Granted, a ULCC buying another ULCC is better than a ULCC being forced up-market.
All this said I think it would’ve made more sense for B6 to go after HA. After all, they already have a relationship and have complimentary fleet types. However, I doubt B6 would preserve the HA brand, and their service models are quite different. Yes, I know B6 and NK are polar opposites, too, but still.
I can’t talk about travel predictions in my 2024 outlook post without talking about Vegas, right? After all, it is one of the top vacation destinations in Hawaiʻi, even though I don’t particularly care about going there. Yes, I know most locals like to stay with Boyd, but MGM is pretty popular, too. Of course, we all know that MGM was supposed to join Marriott in Q4 2023, but that didn’t happen. They’re saying that the partnership will happen in “early 2024,” but what does that mean?
I’m calling it now. This won’t be a Q1 2024 thing – it’ll likely happen in Q2. Both companies have been very quiet about this all, so I have little confidence that they’ll be ready to go anytime soon. Plus, ya know, they already stated that all 16 properties won’t join at once. Here’s to hoping this process doesn’t drag on throughout 2024.
With negative press coming from anti-tourism elements on the island, along with Lahaina’s long road to recovery, visitor numbers will continue to lag for Maui in 2024. In fact, all of Hawaiʻi may continue to see softer demand throughout 2024 as international travel continues to boom, prices remain high across the islands, and an unfavorable exchange rate continues to suppress Japanese demand. Of my 2024 outlook predictions, I hope this is one that doesn’t come true, but we’ll see.
Before I draw my 2024 outlook post to a close, I need to touch on my posts on Jeffsetter.com. With my reduction in travel and the content it allows me to create, I’m struggling to maintain a daily (on weekdays, anyway) posting schedule. While I’ll do my best to maintain my frequency, there’s a real possibility that I’ll need to trim my schedule by as much as half. Admittedly, though, the inability to obtain content is only part of the equation. Life has been busier than usual as of late, so it’s been hard to juggle my hobbies with all the priorities I have going on right now.
All that said, I really appreciate all of you who continue to read this blog. And I promise to do my best to maintain the status quo as much as possible. I’m sure the potential Alaska-Hawaiian merger will help with that a bit!
My 2024 Outlook, Final Thoughts
How do you guys like the new format for my 2024 Outlook post? Do you want to see something like this again next year? Let me know! At any rate, thank you again to all of you for your readership. This is a passion project for me, and I really do enjoy all of my interactions with you all – especially those of you who comment and message me via IG.
I hope you all have a fun, safe, and prosperous New Year!