What to Know Now
My discomfort with the TSA’s PreCheck program has been growing over the past months, and after waiting in a 30-minute line at O’Hare earlier this week I think it’s time to call this one: TSA PreCheck is dead. It’s now often more of a time commitment to take the PreCheck line versus taking the Priority, First class or even regular security line, and wait times are so inconsistent that it’s impossible to properly time it out. And things are only going to get worse now that the agency has expanded the signup to physical airports. So do yourself a favor: until the TSA can offer a truly expedited screening program for passengers, stay away.
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The battle for inflight connectivity is heating up this month. Most recently, yesterday JetBlue hosted a goat-rodeo of journalists on a 90-minute flight-to-nowhere to show off their new satellite internet service, a connection so strong that the folks at Airchive were able to live stream. Separately, Southwest is now offering gate-to-gate messaging on their flights, while Gogo is pushing their ATG-4 service. Meanwhile, sad panda United is still getting teased. Read more coverage below.
Social Quote of the Day
The @AmericanAir acquisition means “America’s biggest Airline Clusterf-ck” title can officially pass from @United!
American Airlines’ First Big Purchase After Merger Is For Regional Jets:
American Airlines Group Inc agreed to buy 60 aircraft from Embraer SA, the world’s largest producer of regional jets, in a deal worth $2.5 billion at list prices, sending Embraer shares to a two-month high on Thursday. Read more at Skift
United’s First Flight With New Split Scimitar Winglets Is Expected Soon: United’s first passenger airplane with split scimitar winglets is scheduled to fly on Thursday as flight 1721: LAX-EWR. The Boeing 737-800 had been planned for a first revenue flight earlier this week, but it was pushed back without explanation. Like everything in the airline business, it is subject to change. Read more at Airchive
Delta Swaps Empty Premium Seats for Coach Seats: Delta Air Lines Inc., seeking a revenue boost from its long-haul jet fleet, is pulling some premium seats that often sit empty on international routes so it can expand the cheaper coach cabin. Read more at Skift
Yoga At O’Hare: Chicago Airport Unveils New Room Allowing Travelers To Unwind: Air travel rarely inspires thoughts of relaxation and calm, particularly during the holiday season, but one major U.S. airport is joining a growing list of airports looking to change that. Read more at The Huffington Post
Studies Project Gridlock At U.S. Airports Within Ten Years: Air travel infrastructure in the United States is in such bad shape that the average day at the nation’s airports might resemble the busiest travel days of the year at nearly all of the top 50 American airports within the decade, according to two new studies. Read more at Skift
NTSB Releases Terrifying New Footage Showing Asiana 214 Crash At San Francisco Airport: Five months after the crash of an Asiana Airlines 777 at San Francisco International Airport, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still in the process of sorting out the events of that day. This week, they’re conducting an investigative panel, including testimony from witnesses and also analysis from internal and external technical resources. As part of that investigative process, the agency is releasing new details on the nature of the crash, including this video showing the actual impact of the Boeing 777. Read more at Forbes
JetBlue Fills a Plane With Reporters for the Ultimate Fly-Fi Satellite Internet Demo: JetBlue’s been quoting some pretty ambitious figures for its new ViaSat-powered in-flight WiFi, and during our test flight last month, the Ka-band satellite service seemed to be up to the task. The promise? A claimed 12 Mbps internet at every seat on the plane; enough to stream HD video, download new apps and conduct your online business just as quickly as you would on the ground. Read more at Skift or at Airchive
Southwest First U.S. Airline to Offer Gate To Get Messaging, and For A Fee, Of Course: Southwest became the first U.S. airline to enable passengers to text on their flights from gate to gate. The initial implementation enables passengers to connect their iPhones to onboard Wi-Fi and use iMessage for texting at an introductory $2 fee. They would have to text to other iMessage users, and the service works on devices using iOS 5 and later. Read more at Skift
There’s a New Name in Wireless Charging: Rezence: It’s anyone’s guess who will win the war to wirelessly charge your gadgets, but one of the three competing standards bodies is just about ready to do battle. Today, the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) has announced that it will launch a certification program for devices at the end of this year, under the brand name “Rezence.” Read more at The Verge
Blackstone’s Hilton Raised $2.35 Billion in Record Hotel IPO: The company and existing shareholders sold about 117.6 million shares for $20 each, according to a statement yesterday. The McLean, Virginia-based company had offered 112.8 million shares for $18 to $21 apiece. Read more at Skift
Top Hotel Chains For Cheaters: Nothing says “you’re so special to me” like booking a room at the local motel, right? Well, it seems the picture of a dimming vacant sign at the motel down the road isn’t really how cheaters cheat these days. Read more at The Huffington Post
Three Cautions Before You Use a Hotel Safe: Just how safe is a hotel safe? That was the question on consumer travel expert Wendy Perrin’s mind after leaving behind a jewelry case in an in-room safe. Read more at Conde Nast Traveler
Perennial favorite and signguy Doug Lansky has a new blog devoted to destination marketing and development. Called Destination Development Watch, the site is just getting off the ground, but it’s a solid, well written resource for the travel industry. Check it out here.
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Photo credit: The TSA PreCheck Line at Chicago-O'Hare Airport. Grant Martin / Skift