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Find out what’s on the travel horizon, from updated planes to websites that get you closer to the action.

Air Travel: You Will Be Tempted by an Independent Lounge

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A wave of sleek new spaces is making waiting in airports more appealing: witness the Centurion Lounges by American Express (free to Platinum and Centurion cardholders, $50 for all other AmEx members). The Dallas/Fort Worth location (pictured) features dishes from Dean Fearing, a cocktail menu by Jim Meehan, and an Exhale Spa. Next up: a San Francisco outpost.

Also Noted: The new Airspace lounge at JFK T5 and Hartsfield-Jackson’s the Club at ATL; Plaza Premium’s upcoming space at Heathrow’s T2.

Most Important Travel Trends 2014

Air Travel: You Will Be Tempted by an Independent Lounge

A wave of sleek new spaces is making waiting in airports more appealing: witness the Centurion Lounges by American Express (free to Platinum and Centurion cardholders, $50 for all other AmEx members). The Dallas/Fort Worth location (pictured) features dishes from Dean Fearing, a cocktail menu by Jim Meehan, and an Exhale Spa. Next up: a San Francisco outpost.

Also Noted: The new Airspace lounge at JFK T5 and Hartsfield-Jackson’s the Club at ATL; Plaza Premium’s upcoming space at Heathrow’s T2.

American Express

Most Important Travel Trends 2014

How will you be traveling in 2014? For our annual forecast of the trends that will define travel for the coming year, T+L looked at the big changes in store for air travel, hotels, websites, and gadgets.

Airports will become more enjoyable, we’re happy to report, thanks to better independent lounges and more intelligent architecture. Heathrow’s Queen’s Terminal (T2) will reset the bar for efficiency when it opens in June 2014 with its reconfigured checkpoints (circular conveyor belts!) and central courtyard layout, which puts all gates just a short walk away.

Related: Most Important Travel Trends of 2015

Tech gadgets will continue to shrink and get smarter: phalets (smartphone-tablet hybrids), smartwatches, and digitally enabled glasses from Google and other gear will top travelers’ Wish Lists next year.

New websites, such as the private dinner-party finder EatWith, will allow you to connect with destinations on a profoundly local level. At the same time, these peer-to-peer sites’ continued disruption of traditional booking methods will inspire local law enforcement to take aim. Airbnb’s current legal battles in New York are just the beginning, in other words.

Hotels, meanwhile, will ask you to be more independent, either by pulling back on expensive amenities such as room service or by adopting technologies (the smartphone as keycard) that allow us to bypass the check-in desk.

Airlines are also tweaking their models: British Airways by putting baggage check into travelers’ hands, and JetBlue by abandoning its single-class identity to introduce a new premium cabin, called Mint, in June 2014.

We have a sneak peek of the new JetBlue plane—and more glimpses of the year ahead in travel.

Amy Farley

Reported by Nikki Ekstein, Amy Farley, Jennifer Flowers, Jacqueline Gifford, Brooke Porter Katz, Melanie Lieberman, Karrie Jacobs, and Nate Storey.

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