What to Know Now

Last week I got to try transcon service on a new American Airlines A321, and I have to say, the equipment is outstanding. The-three class aircraft seems more fitted to international rather than cross-country service with great design, nice lighting and a generally superior passenger experience.

Needless to say, the flights are quite popular, with both premium cabins full and nary and upgrade in sight. Based on that datapoint, it’s no wonder that airlines are doubling down on transcon products.

One more example? Scott Mayerowitz from the AP just got back from a Delta transcon in which the airline teamed up with Blue Smoke in New York City to deliver some premium barbeque in BusinessElite. Makes that “chicken or pasta” selection seem pretty weak.

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Are we really doing this weather thing again? I’m currently trapped at the Four Points Sheraton (Free Wifi!) in Chelsea and there is an apocalypse going on outside of my window. The southeast got a walloping yesterday, leading to the cancellation of more than 80% of flights at ATL and as I type, airports in the New York area are grinding to a halt. So much for getting home tonight.

At this point, one has to wonder what sort of effect these storms will have on the season’s travel economy. Rebookings and cancellations are high. Phone lines are jammed. There’s apparently a salt bottleneck. As an investor, I am bearish on this winter.

 All flights suspended at IAD. Rats seen fleeing concourse C/D.


People walk past an American Airlines logo at John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport in in New York


American Air Gets Two Dozen Slots at New York JFK in Swap with JetBlue: American Airlines Group has gained control of 24 takeoff and landing rights at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport – a major gateway for international flights – in a swap with JetBlue Airways , the carriers said on Wednesday. Read more at Skift

Airlines Are Learning to Accommodate Flyers with Food Allergies: Amy Wicker, of Naperville, has a fear of flying, but not for the usual reason.  Wicker’s 9-year-old daughter, Elyse, has severe allergies to nuts, as well as milk and eggs. Air travel is a nightmare because her daughter can suffer severe allergic reactions because of airborne nut proteins, not only from eating nuts, she said. Read more at Skift

Five Ways to Make Flying Easier: Traveling by air can leave even the most seasoned traveler feeling helpless and trapped by the system. Between security lines and flight delays, there are many things out of our control when flying. But it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. Smart travelers can take several steps before they fly to help solve any problems that creep up. Read more at Travel and Leisure
Airlines collected record baggage fees in 2012


The U.S.’s Busiest Airport Just Cancelled 87% of Today’s Flights: With airlines canceling thousands of Atlanta flights scheduled for Wednesday to avoid the winter storm, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is set to begin operating a severely reduced schedule. Read more at Skift

Nearly a Quarter of All U.S. Domestic Flights Were Late in 2013: Flight delays are increasing on major U.S. airlines, but fewer travelers are complaining.  The federal Department of Transportation said Tuesday that just 68.9 percent of domestic flights arrived within 14 minutes of schedule in December, compared with 76.6 percent a year earlier. Cancelations rose too. Read more at Skift
Virgin America flight attendants hold model of Virgin America Airbus A320 commercial aircraft in Los Angeles


House Transportation Committee Pushes Bill To Ban Phone Calls on Flights: Should airlines, presumably with passenger input, decide whether in-flight phone calls from mobile devices would be permissible, or should there be an outright ban? Read more at Skift

Virgin America Debuts Onboard Mobile Social Network With Gogo: Airlines have used social media profiles to facilitate passengers choosing their seat mates before, but now Virgin America takes social media a step further and higher by launching an onboard mobile social network with Gogo using the Here On Biz iPhone app. Read more at Skift

Virgin Atlantic Tests Wearable Tech for Concierge Service: As long as the pilots aren’t wearing them, passengers are probably safe for now.  Virgin Atlantic began testing outfitting concierge staff with Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch technology at Heathrow T3 to provide personalized service to Upper Class passengers. Read more at Skift
Room 77


Is Room 77 Pivoting or Is It Just a Change in Marketing Strategy? Web analytics firms can be notoriously unreliable in their trackings, but Room 77′s desktop traffic numbers over the last few months as measured by SimilarWeb, Quantcast and Compete, all point to a similar downward spiral. Read more at Skift

Marriott’s Loyalty Members Can Now Check Out Via Smartphone at All U.S. Hotels: Marriott’s Loyalty Members Can Now Check Everyone’s going mobile in travel these days—and if you thought you’d heard enough of that already, think again.  It’s just the beginning. Proving that is Marriott Hotels, which today launches mobile checkout at all of its 329 hotels nationwide and another 20 international properties (all 500 will be on board later this year).ut Via Smartphone at All U.S. Hotels Read more at Skift

Investors to Pay $400 Million for New York’s Standard Hotel: Final bidders include a group led by investor Steven Kantor. They and others are in negotiations to pay more than $400 million for the five-year-old property, say people familiar with the matter. The Standard, which is managed by hotelier Andre Balazs‘s company, sits above the city’s elevated pedestrian park known as the HighLine and attracts a young and chic crowd. Read more at Skift


I forgot to mention David Farley‘s excellent piece in the New York Times on good food in Dublin. In case you want to escape the winter blues this afternoon, check out his great work here.


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


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Photo credit: Southwest Airlines employees guide a plane into the gate at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, Tuesday, February 26, 2013. Several flights were canceled or delayed due to the winter storm. Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune/MCT

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