What to Know Now
Don’t forget, the big United mileage devaluation comes on Saturday! So if you’re sitting on a fat stack of MileagePlus miles and have tickets to book, NOW is the time to empty the bank account and lock in some 2014 travel. In case you need some context, both Delta and United are gutting their frequent flyer programs this year and making mileage tickets more expensive. Changes to United’s program, which include drastically more expensive award tickets in some areas, go into effect on Saturday. Chris McGinnis over at The BAT has a good breakdown of the devaluations, while Flyertalk has a general thread of grumpiness in its United forum.
If you were out and about this week you probably noticed a) That it’s bone-chilling cold and that b) People are beginning to cope and move on. Complicating the situation was a small batch of weather tickling the Southeast, causing havoc on freeways and shutting down nearly everything. Most of that is clearing up this morning after 7,300 flights were canceled, and there’s even more foul weather in the forecast. Buckle down.
Social Quote of the Day
Flew to Boston in January just escaping the snow in the South East…what?
This New Airline Seat-Back Tray Could Change Flying Forever: So long clunky cases, makeshift viewing stands, and the risk of an iPad-killing ginger ale spill: A company called SmartTray is working on three clever new seat-back tray designs that will add universal tablet mounts to “give the passenger the tray table back.” Read more at Conde Nast Traveler
The Airlines Airing the Super Bowl Live on Sunday Night Flights: Cramped in the middle seat of an economy class cabin is the last place that any American wants to be on Super Bowl Sunday. JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Virgin America will ease the pain of flying that day airing the game live on seat-back seats throughout the plane. Read more at Skift
American to Alter Some Hub Schedules in Plan to Boost Earnings, add more seats in economy: American Airlines Group Inc. is adjusting flight schedules at three of its hubs and expanding sales of first-class upgrades, priority access and preferred coach seats to help boost earnings by at least $400 million. Read more at Bloomberg
Flight Cancellation Tally Hits 7,300, but Woes Easing: More than 700 flights had been canceled as of 9 a.m. Thursday morning, marking the fourth consecutive day that wintry weather has created significant headaches for air travelers. Read more at USA Today
20 Top Airports for International Travel to and From the U.S.: Last year was a record one for international air travel in and out of the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel & Tourism Office, 185.4 million passengers arrived or departed from U.S. airports, a 4% increase over the previous year. Those passengers flew through a few key airports, both domestic and abroad. Read more at Skift
Paris Flights Slowed as Air Traffic Controllers Go on Strike: About 20 percent of flights in and out of Paris’ airports have been canceled because air traffic controllers are on strike over plans to combine European air space. Read more at Skift
Airbnb CEO Is ‘Optimistic That There Isn’t Going to Be a War’ With Hotels: The chief executive of Airbnb, the fast-growing internet service for people who want to rent out spare rooms to tourists, has hit back at claims he is usurping the world’s biggest hoteliers, denying the company is “at war” with the likes of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Read more at Skift
Google sells Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion: Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, giving the Chinese smartphone manufacturer a major presence in the US market. Lenovo will buy Motorola for $2.91 billion in a mixture of cash and stock. Google will retain ownership of the vast majority of Motorola’s patents, while 2,000 patents and a license on the remaining patents will go to Lenovo. Read more at The Verge
Starwood Plans to Open 30 New Hotels in North America This Year: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. said on Tuesday that it plans to open about 30 new hotels in North America this year, down from the 33 opened last year. Read more at Skift
How Bangkok Hotels Are Impacted By Ongoing Protests: The Thai capital is one of the coolest cities in Asia, and a crazy good destination for awesome hotels at great prices, so it’s always been on our list of places we recommend going to. How does the current situation impact Bangkok hotels and how are they dealing with it? Read more at HotelChatter
Hilton to Offer faster Wi-Fi for a Fee at Some Hotels: Hilton Worldwide will begin offering faster Wi-Fi at hotels that offer it for free—for a price. The new Wi-Fi tier will become an option at Hilton’s limited service and extended stay brands: Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Home 2 Suites. Read more at USA Today
Anna Brones, an old friend and colleague who used to write for me at Gadling, has a great new article out in Roads and Kingdoms called Why Is Coffee in France La Merde? It’s a well designed, well written feature and worth reading (twice!). Check it out here.