Skift

Skift Business Traveler: United’s New Attempt at In-Flight Entertainment

@grantkmartin

May 15, 2014 11:36 am

Nancy Stone  / Chicago Tribune/MCT

A United Airlines 787 Dreamliner. Nancy Stone / Chicago Tribune/MCT


What to Know Now

Virgin America won their gates at Dallas Love Field. Pop the Champagne — let’s get back to work.

Actually — can we stay by the water cooler for one more second? I have a pitch for you. Every guest that stays in our new hotel (we’ll call it the Skotel) gets a discount if they take a selfie on the property and hashtag it #skiftsweets. No? Alright, well how about all #throwbackthursday photos shot with wearable devices get shared to the company Facebook account. No?

I think the hotel industry may have gone overboard with the pop culture pitches. This week we saw drones delivering Champagne, Google Glass packages and career advice seminars at hotels across the country. Great. Hey, here’s a pitch: fire your PR team and focus on the product. While a gimmick might get you some good press in the near term, it adds no value to your core business. So stop wasting our time on drone selfies and honey-badger themed weekend packages. Like you, we have work to do.

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Top Story

This week United made a really cool update to their iOS App that will allow passengers to stream movies from the inflight entertainment right to their handheld devices. This is a huge step forward in the connected traveler’s experience, and it’s heartwarming to see a legacy carrier leading the effort.

But United: you’ve got to get your act together in delivering a unified inflight entertainment product. Some planes have WiFi. Some have satellite TV. Some have Channel 9. Some have nothing. Like your app (which is only for iOS?!?!), the experience is scattershot, and right now passengers don’t know whether to bring headphones, a tablet, a laptop or an Ambien onto their next transcon.

Until you can provide a unified experience, you wont get traction with any of your fancy new upgrades.

Social Quote of the Day

Could also be titled: Pre-check is a racket.

- Annemarie Dooling, Community manager, social journalist, scrappy Italian. Salon & others. (via Facebook) on Vox Media comparing Pre Check to Net Neutrality

Star Alliance welcomes EVA Air

Airlines

Why Better Seats in First Class Can Lead to Better Ones in Coach: The majority of passengers may be baffled by recent introductions of apartments in the sky, major luxury hotel chains buying planes, and other premium offerings introduced at the same time that news spreads of nightmarishly lean economy seats and tight seating configurations. Read more at Skift

J.D. Power Study Says U.S. Airline Passengers Are Less Dissatisfied Than Ever: Passengers are more satisfied than ever with service on North American airlines even as they begrudgingly acknowledge that added fees aren’t going away. Read more at Skift

Star Alliance Launches New Round-the-World Fare Product: Star Alliance has announced the launch of new Round-the-World (RTW) Fare Levels, which will offer lower fares to passengers throughout all three classes of service. Read more at Skift
Frontier Airlines

Airports

Dallas Clears Virgin America to Take Over American Air’s Love Field Gates: The city of Dallas just announced that it was granting two gates at Dallas Love Field to Virgin America. Read more at Skift

Heathrow Airport’s Latest Third Runway Expansion Plans Revealed: Heathrow’s bosses are laying out revised plans for expansion that they will submit to the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission. Read more at Skift

Frontier Airlines Heads to D.C. Dulles Airport with 14 New City Routes: Low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines is launching service to 14 cities from Dulles International Airport.  The Denver-based airline announced Tuesday that service will begin from Dulles in August and September. Read more at Skift
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Tech

Google Maps Expands Transit Options for UK Users: The battle to own the digital map continues — with Google stepping up its game in the U.K. today by significantly expanding the transit data embedded within its mapping interface. Read more at Skift

T-Mobile Customers Using 28 Times More Data Internationally Since Launching Unlimited Data Plan: It was the shot — or data plan — heard ’round the world in October 2013 when T-Mobile debuted a plan with unlimited international data and texting in 122 countries, and flat-rate calls with no roaming charges at 20 cents per call. Read more at Skift

United Revamps iOS App to Bring Seatback Entertainment to Personal Devices: Travelers who preload their iOS devices with movies and TV shows to entertain themselves during flights will now periodically have an alternative from United Airlines, which has revamped its iOS app to enable travelers to browse for United-supplied movies and TV shows on personal devices when connected to United’s Wi-Fi network. Read more at Skift

5 Most Expensive U.S. Cities for Car Rentals: Renting a car in Las Vegas is cheaper than just about any other top destination in the nation, according to a survey from CheapCarRental.net. Read more at Skift
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Hotels

What Happens After Hotel Impossible’s Cameras Leave: Don’t expect new owners to be taking over the Myrtle Beach property featured last week on the Travel Channel‘s “Hotel Impossible” just yet. Read more at Skift

The Drone Silly Season Begins: Delivering Champagne and Cookies at Hotels: You knew this was coming: Using drones not because they have any real use, but because they’re cool and have a novelty value for PR. And we’re writing about this, so this must work, right? Read more at Skift

Marriott Rewards Launches Social Media Points Plan: Seeking to enhance its social media stature, Marriott Rewards launched a PlusPoints program that rewards loyalty program members for each Facebook “like” or Twitter “follow.” Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Via Torsten Jacobi, a new competitor to MilePoint and Flyertalk has emerged. The Mighty Travels Forum’s vision is to “Combine the lessons from the Miles & Points world and the long term travelers that scour the planet for amazing discoveries and destinations.” Right now volume is still building (and there sure are a lot of credit card ads), but it should be an interesting piece of real estate to watch.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm@skift.com and @grantkmartin. We publish the Business Newsletter twice a week on Monday and Thursday.

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