What to Know Now
Planning on traveling for Thanksgiving? If it’s anywhere east of the Mississippi be prepared for some serious delays. The winter storm that’s blazing through the southern United States is rambling up the Atlantic coast as we type, and it has created calamity in New England today. And if you think you won’t be affected the delays, remember that many daily aircraft routes originate in the east coast, so your flight from Omaha to Los Angeles that starts the morning in JFK is likely affected.
Now’s a good time to double check your flight information and customer service phone numbers as you head to the airport — most of the legacy airlines are issuing weather waivers as the storm travels across the country so if need be, change your flights and build in some extra time. It’s better than spending the night in LaGuardia.
Since we’re all about to be on holiday we’re also only publishing one Business Traveler Newsletter this week. Enjoy your long weekend — I’ll be getting some much needed R&R in Budapest and Istanbul.
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With the FCC now updating their inflight electronics rules to a modern standard, there was no doubt that eventually in-flight phone calls would come into question. Like them or not, in-flight phone calls can increase productivity (for some) which translates to potential revenue from passengers who want to take advantage. And airlines would be remiss to not capitalize, provided they don’t lose revenue from quiet-conscious passengers — but there hasn’t been a blanket ruling by the FCC. Until this week.
Perhaps realizing the sensitivity of the situation, the most recent ruling from the agency is that airlines will be allowed to make the call on whether or to permit phone calls in flight, though the AP reports that even the FCC chairman isn’t keen on the idea. It’ll be interesting to see how the airlines react. In the meantime, you can weigh in on the discussion on this Skift thread.
Social Quote of the Day
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Details of Today’s American Airlines Bankruptcy Court Approval: U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane granted bankruptcy court approval of American Airlines parent AMR Corp.’s deal with regulators to consummate its $17.2 billion merger with US Airways Group Inc. and create the world’s biggest airline. Read more at Skift
Boeing Warns of Engine Icing Risk on 747-8s, Dreamliners: Boeing advised airlines on Friday about a risk of engine icing problems on its new 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner planes with engines made by General Electric, urging 15 carriers to avoid flying them near high-level thunderstorms. Read more at Reuters
As Australia’s Airline Rivalry Heats Up, Emirates & Etihad To Benefit: The bad-tempered battle between Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd and Qantas Airways Ltd over Australia’s skies is a proxy for increasingly tough regional competition among carriers including ambitious Gulf airlines Etihad and Emirates. Read more at Skift
As Flights are Cut, Airfares Go Up, at Least at First: In the past eight years, a period when the airline industry experienced a flurry of mergers, escalating fuel costs and a global recession, many airports that experienced deep cuts in service have seen steep spikes in fares. Read more at USA Today
Singapore 21: A Farewell Trip on the World’s Longest Flight: It’s a journey that’s been on the bucket lists of the world’s most ambitious aviation enthusiasts since the city-state’s namesake airline first launched the service in 2004, and following its final jaunt, this record-setting A340-500 will touch down at Changi Airport for the very last time. Read more at Engadget
TSA’s New PreCheck Categories Could Lead to Security Gridlock: If you’re getting ready to take a flight during the holidays, be prepared for more than the usual confusion at airport screenings. The combination of infrequent fliers and the Transportation Security Administration’s new initiative that allows randomly selected passengers to receive expedited screening — an initiative that will continue during the holidays — has the potential to create passenger pileup. Read more at the Chicago Tribune
RelayRides In Deal With San Francisco Airport To Make Ride-Sharing Legal: RelayRides is solidifying its spot at SFO by striking a deal with the airport to clear up any questions about the legality of its service there. As part of the deal, the company has agreed to pay a fee for customers that are traveling through the airport, and it’s also partnered with a nearby lot and shuttle service to reduce congestion at arrivals and departures drop-off points. Read more at Skift
Wrong-airport Landings Rare, but not Unheard of: The mistaken landing of a Boeing 747 Dreamlifter at a small Kansas airport drew headlines across the country. But while such incidents are rare, they’re not unheard of. Read more at USA Today
Five Travel Startups That Help Travelers Tailor a Custom Trip: This week’s roundup of travel startups is across the board. There is an app for smart skiing analytics, a service for customized itineraries, two apps that want to be a traveler’s local best friend, and a lodging search site with every option under the sun. Read more at Skift
Engadget’s Smartphone Buyer’s Guide: Fall 2013: We’ve seen big devices (both large and high-profile ones) enter the world over the last few months, including new heavyweights from Apple and Google. Then there’s Samsung, Nokia and HTC, which are all following the philosophy that bigger is better. Read more at Engadget
The Google Glass Travel App That May Succeed at Being Useful: Maybe the glassholes will actually have something useful to brag about: a new app from the makers of super useful Word Lens. The “Word Lens for Glass” app is now available for Google Glass, and it moves beyond the gimmick to something that may actually be useful in international travels. Read more at Skift
Marriott Will Open DC’s Biggest Hotel on May 1st: The downtown Shaw neighborhood of DC is getting a major new hotel next spring. The Marriott Marquis Washington will be the largest hotel in DC, connected to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The hotel will have a massive 1,175 rooms, including 49 suites, 105,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meetings space, five dining outlets, a high-tech concierge lounge, and a bi-level health club. Read more at HotelChatter
Inside Europe’s 10 Best-Designed Hotels: The winners of the 16th annual European Hotel Design Awards were announced this week in London, recognizing hotels ranging from a super-luxe Swiss chalet to a twirly little river bridge hotel. “Europe’s longest running and most prestigious architecture and design awards for the hospitality sector” is affiliated with the annual Sleep exhibition, showcasing trends in hotel interior product design. Read more at Skift.
The Top 5 Reasons Marriott Rewards Doesn’t Value its Platinum Elite Members: Marriott’s top elite tier requires the most nights to achieve at 75. In contrast, you can become a Starwood Platinum or a Hyatt Diamond after 50 nights (or 25 stays). And yet Marriott Rewards is less rewarding than Starwood and Hyatt — and arguably less rewarding than Hilton HHonors – for top tier elites. Read more at View from the Wing
Freda Moon, a prolific and excellent travel writer rocked the cover of last Sunday’s New York Times travel section with a great story about Woody Guthrie’s America. Check it out here and sing her praises on twitter.