What to Know Now

Greetings from Sweden. It’s still Doug Lansky filling in for Grant Martin, who is getting an updated look at travel in Asia.

In 2010, the Royal Penthouse suite in the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland cost $65,000 a night. That price has gone up over 28% over the last four years and is now $83,200. It’s a case of the travel industry showing their love for large margins and perforce premium customers.

Perhaps a more apt example is the recent Delta Airlines rewards move covered in this week’s top story. On the other end, you’ve got the budget vultures like Ryanair (also covered this week), waiting to scoop up the neglected price-conscious travelers.

Increasingly it feels like the skies are getting sculpted to a flying caste system: the have-legrooms and the have-legroom-nots.

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Top Story

Delta Airlines has just done nothing less than re-invent the backbone of its reward system, using dollars spent instead of miles flown as the measurement for reward credit. What does it mean? It will likely mean a reduction of those cheap mileage runs across the planet to top up accounts and less benefits for the causal, economy-class points collector.

That’s not to say the rewards have been slashed. They’re just getting reassigned. This new way of counting points will reward their high-paying premium and business customers more than bargain-hunting economy travelers. Starting next year, the average Delta frequent flier will earn five miles for every dollar spent on a Delta flight. That means for a $300 fare, travelers will earn 1,500 miles.

With the Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card, flyers will earn seven miles for every dollar spent and up to 13 miles per dollar spent if they have elite frequent flyer status. Take a look on Flyer Talk’s discussion boards and you’ll see numerous travelers praising the reward increases and lamenting the decreases under the new system — depending on their status.

The bold move is a clear effort to try to bring the entire rewards concept back to its core value: encouraging loyalty. You can read more about changes to loyalty programs in the latest Skift Trend Report

Social Quote of the Day

American Airlines To Phase Out Complimentary Cabin Pressurization

– @TheOnion

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Airlines

Ryanair Boss Sees a Future in £10 Trans-Atlantic Flights With Lots of Extra Fees: Ryanair will offer flights to New York and Boston for less than £10 when it eventually buys the long-haul aircraft it needs. Michael O’Leary, the airline’s chief executive, told the Irish Hotels Federation conference: “We can make money on 99 cent fares in Europe. Not every seat will be €10 of course, there will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats.” Read more at Skift

From Tweets to GPS Tracking: How Airlines Are Getting to Know You Better: Sure, the airlines know if you prefer an aisle seat or a vegetarian meal. But do you want them to know which cocktails you prefer or some of your amusing and quirky habits? Airlines can find out. How? Social media. Qantas has started testing a system to monitor digital conversations on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Read more at CNN Business Traveller

International Travelers Hardest Hit by Cuts to the Qantas Network: Qantas kept the Kangaroo Route between Australia and London, but the Singapore route was dealt a blow. Flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Singapore will be downgraded from Boeing 747 jumbo jets to Airbus A330 aircraft by September this year. Read more at Sydney Morning Herald

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Airports

Americans Travel to Albuquerque Airport for Faster Global Entry Approval: A short waiting list is drawing hundreds of American tourists and businesspeople to Albuquerque to pick up a “Global Entry Pass,” the pre-approved clearance aimed at helping international travelers quickly move through customs. Read more at Skift

Heathrow Opens New Plane-Spotting Deck: The “View Heathrow” 270-degree observation deck at the T4 terminal has just opened to the pubic. It marks the end of a five-year absence of an aircraft-viewing platform at the airport. Located between gates 15 and 16, it was created from a former airline lounge and will be available to all T4 passengers. Read more at Business Traveler

Can Croissants and iPads Convince Travelers They’re Not at New York-LaGuardia? Vice President Joe Biden called out LaGuardia Airport for its decrepit conditions, but Biden obviously didn’t have a chance to grab an iPad along the bar seating at the recently opened Voyage Bakery Cafe in Terminal C. Read more at Skift

Tech

Australia Extends Smartgate Facilities: Australia has extended the use of its Smartgate facilities, which enables e-passport holders to self-process through immigration, to Singapore passport holders on a trial basis. Singaporeans travelling down under with an e-passport can now skip the long immigration counters at eight major airports and use the automated immigration system. Read more at Business Traveler Asia

Do Airlines Raise Fares While You Search? The Telegraph‘s Nick Trend weighs in on this much-rumored issue. If his answer doesn’t convenience you, check out the healthy debate in the comment section. Read more at The Telegraph

Chinese Electric Carmaker Kandi Plans Rental Network in Beijing and Shanghai: Kandi Technologies Group Inc., a Chinese electric carmaker that rents out vehicles to the public, said the service is profitable and plans to expand it to cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

The Straight-to-Room Trend: A big change coming to hospitality is the e-check-in, according to Jim Holthouser, Hilton Worldwide Holdings’ executive VP of global brands. He believes that e-check-in largely exists today; the industry just hasn’t done a good job marketing it or operationalizing it. Read more at Hotelmarketing

British Airways Executive Club Members Can Double Rewards at a Preferred Hotel Group Properties: The worldwide promotion is available at 100 participating properties for new bookings made before, and for stays until, December 31 and is valid with minimum two-night stays booked on rate code “MKTDBL”. Read more at Skift

Bill Marriott’s 12 Rules for Being a Successful Manager: Today, Marriott International manages more than 20 brands and 3,900 properties in 72 countries. It also employs more than 325,000 people around the world. Bill Marriott joined the Marriott corporation in 1956, became president in November 1964, and CEO in 1972. Read more at Skift

Tips and Comments

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

Photo Credit: Passenger waits for his flight near a Delta Air Lines logo at Detroit Airport. Wei Yang Sim / Reuters