What to Know Now
The Consumer Electronics Show is this week, so you can expect lots of updates in the tech world, including Roku TVs and head mounted video glasses. There’s a modest travel tech presence here as well, with GoGo Inflight Wireless taking no small part and numerous gadgets coming out onto the market. I’ll be on the ground walking the show floor this week and will be tweeting some of my discoveries. While you’re waiting for the feed to refresh, enjoy this great shot of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a snowsuit.
We’re all used to crummy weather over the last few weeks (much less in this newsletter), but an interesting artifact on this round appears to be in the recovery process. With thousands of flights canceled around the country and record-low temperatures, airlines are being inundated with calls, emails and tweets, and each carrier is handling it differently. Many report being unable to reach carriers altogether, while others have been on hold for over 10 hours. And everyone is angry.
Here’s the thing: I forgive airlines for being backed up and not being able to take calls — sometimes for hours — during this period, but damage control and a strong IT infrastructure are critical. Delta is apologizing for wait times on Twitter. American is taking names and calling passengers back. Provided the airlines can be open and communicative during this stressful time, they won’t lose face with their passengers. And a little bit of patience on both sides might help too.
Social Quote of the Day
JetBlue Blames New Pilot Rest Rules for Its Massive Disruptions: New rules that require pilots to get a minimum amount of uninterrupted rest and limit the number of consecutive hours they can fly went into effect on Saturday, and JetBlue says they’re to blame for its problems. Read more at Skift
American Eagle To Change Its Name as Pilots Ready Contract Proposal: American Eagle in the next few weeks plans to unveil a new name and logo “to distinguish ourselves” from a few other regional carriers that fly for American, CEO Pedro Fábregas said in a letter to employees. Read more at Skift
In The Battle For Premium Passengers, United Releases Specialty Amenity Kits: Locked in a competition across carriers for the best premium service for international passengers, United Airlines has a new tool in its arsenal: specialty amenity kits. Part souvenir, part marketing and part functional toolbox, the kits were put into circulation last week and feature the airline’s main hubs printed onto a commemorative metal case. Read more at Forbes
Adding Up the Impact of This Weekend’s Weather in the U.S.: Airlines scrapped more than 2,500 flights across the U.S. and ran late with thousands of others as an arctic cold front and new snow in the Midwest added to disruptions from last week’s Northeast storm. Read more at Skift
The Next Frequent Traveler University is Coming – And Seats Are Limited: The next Frequent Traveler University event is now a reality. It will be held in Seattle, starting the evening of Friday April 25th and running through the afternoon of Sunday, April 27th. Read more at View from the Wing
Airlines Could Save Millions by Boarding Flyers Based on Their Carry-on Luggage: Looking to save money and time, the airline industry has for years tried to come up with the fastest way to seat passengers. Some airlines board from the back of the plane to the front. Others seat passengers in the window seats first, then the middle seats and finally the aisle seats. Read more at Skift
The Live Events of CES: Here’s Where to Tune In: CES 2014 doesn’t technically begin until Tuesday, but the news begins now. Press conferences kick off at 8PM PT on Sunday night and continue in earnest throughout Monday. Discover the new tech you’ll travel with on The Verge
A Major Search Engine Is Shaking Up Online Travel, But It’s In China: Anyone disappointed that Google hasn’t done more with Google Flight Search or Google Hotel Finder need just look to China to point to a dominant general search engine, Baidu, that is shaking up online travel. Read more at Skift
Facebook Is Good Enough ID at Some TSA Airport Security Gates: Recent traveler Zach Klein thought he was in trouble when he reached airport security and realized he’d left his government-issued ID at home. But that was until the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) told him he could use his Facebook profile as proof of his identity instead. Read more at Skift
Group Bookings For Hotels Increasing In 2014: As 2013 closed, group business finally showed some positive trends, and advanced-booking data from TravelClick and several hotel owners show that group business will continue to grow through 2014. Read more at Skift
Marriott Looks to Ian Schrager to Deliver Its Next Generation of Guests: J.W. Marriott Jr., the 81-year-old chairman of Marriott International, flew to London in September to inspect his company’s new jewel: Edition, a sumptuous boutique hotel intended to anchor a new 100-city chain. Read more at the New York Times
Smoke-Free Colorado Hotels Banning Marijuana Smoking: Under state law, hotels can make up to a quarter of their rooms smoking rooms. But most hotels are completely smoke free. 9NEWS was able to find just one place that says it’s marijuana friendly: The Cliff House Lodge in Morrison. Read more at Skift
Our thanks to travel writer and SATW member Susan Farlow, who reached out from the snowy northeast to check up on the Skift Business Traveler and say hi. Check out her a corner of her enormous body of work over at Tumblr.