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What to Know Now
Welcome back after a long holiday weekend. I write today from a cafe outside of Paddington station in London, where for maybe the third time this century, the sun is out.
But first, a brief eulogy for the Coupon Connection. Those interested in the underground forum scene (see: Flyertalk and Milepoint) know that the community of frequent flyers often gets together to tell stories, swap tips and exchange goodies. At Flyertalk, that section was called the Coupon Connection. It was secret — only visible after a user had posted some hundreds of posts — but it was a great resource for passengers to share extra upgrades or drink certificates.
Was it legal? Maybe. Depending on the terms of the trades and the mileage programs, the casual swap of one upgrade for another was usually shrugged off by the community. But American Airlines disagreed. Last month they took action to get the forum shut down, and its current future is unknown. Mom and dad came home. The party is over.
Good thing the community still has Craigslist.
We got blindsided this week by news that Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), one of the world’s largest hotel programs, was in talks to be taken over by a U.S. Suitor — possibly Starwood hotels. Though the outcome of the deal is still uncertain, a partnership like this could be huge for business travelers. The addition of IHG hotels (including Holiday Inn) to Starwood’s loyalty program, one of the most popular in the western hemisphere — could mean a wider selection for typically spendier business travelers and more opportunities to earn points. For those in the elite status game, this could be a windfall.
Social Quote of the Day
Eating a cheeseburger in the food court at JFK. There’s a TSA agent and a Duty Free employee at the table next to me. First date? Maybe.
SAS’s New Cabins Reflect the Universal Appeal of Functional Scandinavian Design: SAS has made it clear that its principle strategy is to provide its customers with a convenient comfortable product which meets their every-day travel needs, without ostentation. Read more at Skift
American Airlines Is Getting Ready to Take Possession of Its First Dreamliners: Rumbling down the runway at New York’s JFK airport, American Airlines pilot Bill Elder points the nose of the Boeing 787 skyward and takes off for Denver. Read more at Skift
Air Quality on Planes Is Good But Surfaces and Pockets Aren’t: Government studies have debunked the long-held myth that air circulated in commercial planes is jampacked with disease-causing germs. Read more at Skift
United Backs Down on Liquor Ban for Flight Attendants: A rule banning attendants from possessing alcohol while on duty, even in luggage, was withdrawn within a day after United announced the move, a union spokeswoman, Corey Caldwell, said May 23 in a telephone interview. Chicago-based United backed down after the Association of Flight Attendants balked, she said. Read more at Skift
Qatar Airways Officially Moves Into New Multi-Billion Dollar Doha Airport: Qatar Airways moved all of its operations to a new multi-billion dollar airport in its capital of Doha on Tuesday, greeting passengers who touched down with roses, dates, coffee, chocolate and Qatari flags. Read more at Skift
U.S. Airports Make Modest Improvements in Wait Times in 2013: The White House issued a progress report on the Obama administration’s national travel and tourism strategy that shows wait times at U.S. airports for international arriving passengers dropping 18% compared with a year ago. Read more at Skift
Chicago Midway to Get Improvements From $784 Million Bond Sale: Chicago plans to offer about $784 million of airport-revenue bonds next week for projects including work on runways at city-run Midway International. Read more at Skift
Best Time to Find Business Travel Price Drops is Tuesdays, Off-Hours: Business class airfares are as volatile as leisure fares,so there is no static answer about when to find the lowest fares. Read more at Skift
Travel Companies Highlight Privacy to Attract Rising Number of Female Business Travelers: Before Cristina Monteiro, a managing director at JPMorgan Chase & Co., flies abroad, she first checks to see where her colleagues will be sitting — and then chooses her own seat on the other side of the plane. Read more at Skift
This Is the Business Travel Tool Everyone Wants and No One Will Ever Get: A global travel database, forgetting privacy and security concerns, could aggregate the schedules and ticketing availability for transportation options worldwide and put them in a single place where a traveler could access, assess and select the best transit option in the weeks or minutes prior to a trip. Read more at Skift
Rising Hotel Profits Show No Signs of Slowing in the U.S.: Industry profits in 2009 totaled $24.5 billion, according to Hotel Operating Statistics, or HOST, Almanac from STR Analytics, a sister company of Hotel News Now. During 2013, profits stood at $41 billion, a 67.3% increase from 2009. During the same period, industry revenues grew nearly 30% to $163 billion from $125.5 billion. Read more at Skift
If A Famous Hotel Brand Were to Start An Airline: Holiday Inn Airlines: Behance is a great source of creative ideas and we love browsing through it to get inspired about various travel branding and design stories. Read more at Skift
Extended Stay Properties are Hot and Growing: Living out of hotels and eating in restaurants every night can get old fast. So for Randy Franzen, a pilot based out of Oregon, the ability to cook his own food and use a full laundry room while on the road makes for a better traveling experience, especially when that trip lasts all summer. Read more at Skift
InterContinental Hotels Group in Play, Rejects $10 Billion Takeover Offer: The world’s largest hotelier, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), has rejected a 6 billion pound ($10.1 billion) takeover offer from a U.S. bidder, Sky News reported, citing unidentified sources. Read more at Skift