What to Know Now
Anyone been to a good travel conference lately? This week is ITB, “The World’s Leading Travel Trade Show” in Berlin and annual bonanza mashing suppliers, operators and marketers into one fuzzy mess. Expect lots of industry news and no shortage of self-congratulatory blog posts as the week unfolds. Unrelated: How to block hashtags on Twitter.
Separately, this year’s New York Times Travel Show just wrapped up at the Javits center. Skift’s Yin, Jason Clampet sat on a great panel Focusing on Travel Media while Rafat Ali, our Yang, delivered a thorough skewering on the general direction of the show.
Oh and don’t forget about the New York Travel festival next month.
Take it all with a grain of salt. My old boss at AOL Mike Yessis once opined that we sometimes spend too much time talking about travel and not enough time on the road. Hopefully your jet-lag is as bad as mine.
The dust is starting to settle after last week’s (continued) evisceration of the Delta SkyMiles program with business travelers and journalists alike scratching their heads about the future of loyalty programs. There’s no doubt the market is shrinking, but the attrition may be worse than we originally feared.
Worth noting as this week opens is that American just deep-sixed their bereavement fares to “line up their policy with US Airways,” foreshadowing some upcoming turbulence in the new AA loyalty program. The airline underground, in the meantime, is already shoveling down the Xanax. Rough seas are ahead.
We’ve got your back, though. Last week we published our latest trends report: “The Reinvention of Airline and Hotel Loyalty Programs.”
Social Quote of the Day
Delta Air Lines has started testing @Gogo inflight Wi-Fi on Boeing 747s, but says service is not yet available to passengers.
Hawaiian Airlines Hikes Bag Fees for Interisland Flights: Hawaiian Airlines is increasing its interisland checked-bag fees for non-HawaiianMiles members by 47 percent to more than double the current level. Read more at Skift
How Qantas Went from National Icon to Corporate Tragedy: The decline of the national carrier has all the makings of a modern corporate tragedy. Adele Ferguson and Matt O’Sullivan tell the extraordinary inside story of how Qantas flew off course. Read more at SMH
The Economics of Loyalty and Free Flights Has Changed: Travelers take note: The economics of earning free airline flights are changing. Delta Air Lines Inc. said this week that starting Jan. 1, it will reward passengers for the amount they spend on tickets, not the number of miles they fly. The change to Delta’s SkyMiles program will be great for people who buy expensive tickets in first-class, but bad for vacationers who shop for the cheapest fare. Read more at Skift
United’s Strict New Carry-On Baggage Rules Go Into Effect: If you’ve flown on United Airlines recently, you might have noticed that they have deployed new carry-on baggage sizers at all of their gates, and even at many of the check-in areas. This is in conjunction with a new policy that was implemented systemwide on Saturday, March 1. Although there have been rumors online of this policy change for some time, it was confirmed by the UA Insider company representative on Flyertalk last week. Read more at The Points Guy
Flights Canceled At East Coast Airports Due To Latest Winter Storm: The hardest hit cities were Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore. On Sunday, airlines scrapped nearly 2,000 flights in Dallas, Chicago and Houston, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.com. There are more than 30,000 flights in the United States on a typical day. Read more at The Huffington Post
United Just Got Clearance to Fly to Tokyo’s Better Airport: The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday tentatively approved plans by United Continental Holdings to operate a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Read more at Skift
LAX Airport Malfunctioning Emergency Phone System has been Fixed: The Los Angeles airport police chief said Friday that the facility’s communications system has been fixed after what he termed a glitch prevented a faster response to a gunman last fall. Read more at Skift
This Is Cortana, Microsoft’s Answer to Siri: Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update will include Cortana, a personal digital assistant designed to rival Siri and Google Now. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge how Cortana looks and operates, replacing the built-in Bing search functionality on Windows Phone 8.1. Read more at The Verge
Apple Announces In-Vehicle Voice and Touch Access to Maps and More: Apple has officially announced CarPlay, its new in-car interface that’ll be compatible with new Ferrari, Mercedes and Volvo cars unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show this week. Read more at Engadget
World’s Tallest Hotel Opens Second Tower: The second tower at JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, the world’s tallest hotel, is now open, with 294 new rooms bringing the total room count in the hotel to 1098. Read more at Skift
Vermont Bill Wants to Ban Smoking Rooms at Hotels: Smoking rooms in the state’s hotels and motels would be eliminated under a bill endorsed by the Vermont House on Thursday. Read more at Skift
My thanks to Doug Lansky for keeping an eye on the Business Traveler while I was off chasing sleep in Chiang Mai this past week. Much appreciation as well goes to Roy Blom, a consultant for Direct Rooms, who also sent over some great destination advice. It’s good to be back.
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Photo credit: The Delta airline logo is seen on a strap at JFK Airport in New York. Joshua Lott / Reuters