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What to Know Now

With 2013 quickly drawing to a close, it’s time to start thinking about your travel strategy for 2014. As I mentioned in a Forbes article earlier this week, much is changing in the industry, from the devalued programs among Delta, United, and Hilton to the merger between American and US Airways. All of these tremors will have a serious impact on your travels. Do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with the elite requirements for Delta and United this year and carefully plan how you travel. You have from January 1st to reach your goals.

In fact year’s end is also a good time to review your points and loyalties across the board, from what credit cards you use to what cars you rent to even how you pay your mortgage. Scott Mayerowitz from the AP has a good primer on getting the ball rolling over at Travel + Leisure. It could save you thousands.

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Top story

Really are we not done with the weather? Whether you were scarred by the package delivery services of America or you got ensnared in the Christmas Eve weather in Great Britain, the lousy holiday weather affected many of us in the western hemisphere, and this weekend isn’t looking so good either. Maybe it’s time to stay in and finish that Duck Dynasty marathon that you’ve been avoiding all week — work can wait until the new year.

Social Quote of the Day

I was stuck behind a bunch of Boy Scouts in the security line this morning. Let me tell you: they are NOT always prepared.


Lufthansa aircrafts sit on the tarmac at Frankfurt airport


Is Status Worth It? The Case for American, United, Delta and AlaskaScott Mackenzie takes a look at the most rewarding tiers of each airline and picks the most valuable. For American that’s 100K miles, for United and Delta its 75K and Alaska it’s 40K. Get started at Hack My Trip.

Surprise Strike by Lufthansa Pilots Brings New Headaches to European Travel: A surprise strike by Lufthansa workers at the main Paris airport has prompted flight cancellations and brought a new headache to holiday travel. Read more at Skift

Southwest Has a New Accolade it Doesn’t Want: Worst On-Time Schedule: A major airline suddenly can’t seem to get passengers to their destinations on time, posting worst-in-the-industry on-time rates.  But, surprise. It’s not an airline that cynics love to hate, mega-carriers United Airlines or American Airlines. Read more at Skift

Instagram Accounts


Travelers Dealing With Flight Delays Instagram the Chaos: A storm swept across Britain on Christmas Eve delaying and canceling many travelers’ flights and trains home for the holidays. Read more at Skift

Plans for Atlanta’s Second Commercial Airport Are Grounded for Another Year: It’s been nearly three months since Paulding County leaders went public with a plan to attract airline service and become home to the second commercial airport in metro Atlanta. But very little has gone according to their plan since then. Read more at Skift

Oakland Airport BART Tram to Open in Fall 2014:  Over the past few months, many travelers heading to or from Oakland International Airport have gazed at the off-white steel trestle that shoots past a corner of the Coliseum parking lot, across Interstate 880 and down Hegenberger Road to the airport, and wondered: When is it going to open? The answer: in time for the holidays – the holidays of 2014. Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle



Amtrak to Soon Offer Free Wi-Fi on Routes out of Chicago: Amtrak trains operating out of Chicago to points across Illinois and the Midwest will soon offer free Internet access.  The passenger train company says Wi-Fi will be installed on the Chicago-to-Carbondale and Chicago-to-Quincy lines. It’ll also be expanded to all four roundtrips on Chicago-to-St. Louis trains; those trains also stop in Springfield. Read more at Skift

Get Ready for “Smart” shopping in-flight: Airbus believes that the practice of shopping via QR code or other technology in real time could take flight, changing how airlines structure their onboard retail programs. Read more at Runway Girl Network

Delta Is Piloting a New Baggage Theft Prevention Program in Las Vegas: Delta Air Lines, the second-busiest commercial air carrier at McCarran International Airport, has begun a two-month pilot program to prevent thefts from the airport’s baggage claim carousels. Read more at Skift



5 Trends That Changed Hotel Technology in 2013: Hotels are tailoring their services to meet the needs of a new generation of digitally-savvy, device-obsessed travelers. From putting plugs in easy-to-reach places to providing Wi-Fi and interacting with customers on social media, hotels’ relationship with technology and customers is changing. Read more at Skift

How Le Méridien Hotels Pivoted to Attract the Global Creative Class: When Pop Art arrived on the scene in the 1950s, there were two kinds: Pop Art made in America about America, and Pop Art made in Britain about America. Some influential art critics like Clement Greenberg weren’t exactly fans, however, calling artists like Andy Warhol “superficial.” Warhol corrected him, saying his work was “deeply superficial.” Read more at Skift

A Short History of Hotels: The lobby of the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, regarded as one of the world’s finest hotels, smells of orchid blossom and money. In the late 19th century it was the only big hotel in Thailand. Malarial imperialists braved high seas and battled jungles to reach this outpost of modernity, with its electricity, billiards and baths. The Oriental has since added a multitude of facilities, but its function as an oasis for the privileged has not changed. Read more at The Economist

Your Turn

From Reddit: “I’m an airline pilot — Today, a passenger gave our crew Christmas cards with this note inside.”

Tips and comments

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

Photo Credit: The Delta airline logo is seen on a strap at JFK Airport in New York. Joshua Lott / Reuters