What to Know Now

I never thought I’d see the day that vacation rentals start to edge into the business travel market, but it looks like that’s where we’re headed. With investment money falling from the sky, sites like Airbnb and Homeaway are expanding rapidly into new markets, and a prime target is business travelers bored with the same old Hilton bedspreads and Marriott televisions. Vacation rental companies are now mere steps away from entering the mainstream, and with new ad campaigns targeted at a broad market they’re about to become a household name. When loyalty programs kick in, it could get interesting.

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Top story

The battle for in-flight phone calls rages on as every passenger, airline, and regulatory group you can shake a stick at weighs in on the future of peace and quiet. Late last week, the Department of Transportation announced that they would consider enacting their own ban on inflight calls, while some airlines with high-speed internet are now quietly allowing VOIP calls to proceed. Media suppliers like Viasat, meanwhile, are predicting seamless inflight Wi-Fi across carriers in the future, making it even easier for passengers to connect and chat. Make no mistake: it’s the dawn of a new era in airline connectivity.

Social Quote of the Day

$75 to go from 45th/6th Ave. to 59th St/6th ave on thurs. Need to replace “surge” with something more ludicrous.

@JoeDiazAfar, Co-founder, Afar Media on Uber surge pricing

A passenger talks on her phone at a Delta Airlines gate at the Salt Lake City international airport


DOT Threatens to Enact its Own Ban on In-Flight Calls: The possibility in-flight voice calls inched closer to reality Thursday, though new opposition may be on the horizon. USA TODAY reports “a divided Federal Communications Commission agreed Thursday to collect public comment” on a proposal that would end the prohibition of in-flight voice calls. Read more at USA Today

China Airlines and Tiger Airways Are Launching a Budget Airline in Taiwan:
China Airlines will own 90 percent of the venture, with Tiger holding the remainder, the companies said in separate statements today. The new carrier, to be named Tigerair Taiwan, will have capital of NT$2 billion ($67 million), Singapore-based Tiger said. Read more at Skift

Air India to Restart Its Entry Into the Star Alliance: At their board meeting held in Vienna, the Chief Executives of the Star Alliance member airlines decided unanimously to recommence the integration process with Air India. Read more at Skift

An aerial view of the LaGuardia airport in New York


Virgin America Got The Gates It Wanted in New York. Now What? Virgin America’s recent declaration that it would acquire six slot pairs at New York LaGuardia airport has fueled speculation of where those slots will be put to use given the flight restrictions present at the airport. Those caps prohibit direct service to the carrier’s main bases of San Francisco and Los Angeles, so Virgin America must set its sights on mid-con routes such as Chicago O’Hare or perhaps north-south route pairings along the US east coast. Read more at Skift

Collisions Between Birds and Airplanes Will Get Worse: A  bird sucked into an airplane’s jet engine can wreak enough damage to require an emergency landing or cause a plane to crash. Despite  efforts to curb bird strikes, experts warn that they’re likely to become more common, with this being particularly severe. Read more at The Verge



All Flyers Will Have Free Seamless In-Flight Wi-Fi in the Future: Free and seamless in-flight Wi-Fi is the future of in-flight entertainment, suggests Don Buchman, director of mobile broadband at Wi-Fi service provider ViaSat. Read more at Skift

BlackBerry to Lose Two More Executives as Leadership Cull Continues: A source close to the beleaguered BlackBerry tells the Wall Street Journal that two senior staff members will soon be leaving the smartphone manufacturer. What’s worse is that losing two more BlackBerry users is actually an issue for the beleaguered manufacturer. Read more at The Verge

New High-Speed Train From Paris to Barcelona Started Service Sunday: A high-speed rail service linking Spain and France has been inaugurated that will cut the journey time between Barcelona and Paris by half. Read more at Skift

An exterior shot of the Hilton Midtown in New YorkHotels

Is Hilton Eliminating High Speed Internet as an Elite Benefit? One of the worst things a loyalty program can do is change its rules without notice. But they can compound the offense further by changing their rules without notice and not even tell their members. Read more at View From the Wing

Hotel Bathroom Design: Tubs May Be Out and Hand-Held Shower Heads Are In: What travelers don’t often think about while tearing open the miniature soap is that everything in the hotel guest-room bathroom, be it the shower or its humble curtain, is the result of a designer’s careful choices in an effort to balance desires, space and money. Read more at Skift

The Ace Hotel Los Angeles Will Now Open on January 6th: Ace Hotels lost its founder last month, but it still managed to open its second international outpost, this time at the American Trade Hotel in Panama. Now the Los Angeles property will open more than a week early, on January 6, just in time for the Golden Globes. Read more at HotelChatter

jerasulem in snow

Your Turn

Wanderporn Vice Admiral Jeremy Kressmann sent over a dispatch put together from the snowstorms in the middle east this weekend. Check out the full series on his Wanderlust Society Tumblr.

Tips and comments

Can be sent to [email protected] and @grantkmartin. We publish the Business Newsletter twice a week on Monday and Thursday.


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