What to Know Now

Skift is growing! While we haven’t got a Dr. Strangelove war room (yet), we are expanding the footprint of our expertise into the conference space — and we’re pretty excited about the plans.

Skift’s Future of Travel Global Forum takes place on October 9th in New York City. In the words of Rafat Ali, our founder, “this is the first event of its kind focused on the top strategists, technologists, and marketers in travel,” with forums and panels targeted at informing and inspiring the travel professional.

The conference will be at the Times Center and while tickets aren’t yet on sale, you can read more about the prospectus from Rafat here. I look forward to seeing you all out there.

Subscribe to the newsletter here and send tips to [email protected] or @grantkmartin.

Top Story

When you get an email that starts “Grant, we’ve made some changes,” you know that bad news is on the horizon. This week American made some stark cuts to their AAdvantage mileage program in an effort to align itself with merging partner US Airways and the industry at large.

While the changes in my opinion are not too drastic — 25k mileage tickets are still in place as are 40k off-season tickets to South America and Europe — what’s got most people in the community in a tizzy is American’s timing. Namely: there was no timing. The changes came overnight with no warning to travelers.

Passengers are right to be upset. During a merger, keeping loyal customers should be a priority, not an afterthought. But I ask you this: what were you expecting? Loyalty programs have been shriveling faster than my great aunt Martha, and American’s priorities are no different than their competitors. It’s time to stop pretending like the airlines owe us something.

Social Quote of the Day

Dear @AmericanAir: Devaluing AAdvantage is one thing. Shredding important benefits with no notice is just wrong. — @ndhapple: Nolan Hicks, San Antonio Express-News state gov/politics reporter



American, US Airways Adjust Mileage Rules to Increase Revenues: If you use miles to get a free ticket on American Airlines, you may have to pay to check that suitcase.  American and US Airways announced changes Tuesday to their policies on checked-bag fees and redeeming miles for free flights. Read more at Skift

Airlines Plan to Make Money Serving Targeted Ads to Idle Flyers: Airlines are about to start making more money off of flyers.  The pro: It won’t cost flyers a dime. The con: It includes more ads with creepily accurate targeting. Read more at Skift

5 Features of Airbus’ New A350 That Will Make the Passenger Experience Better: We joined key members of the world’s press on a tour of Airbus’ brand new A350XWB aircraft, during which were treated to tantalizing hints of what we can expect onboard when the aircraft graces the skies. Read more at Skift
Boarding Area E Preview (2)


San Francisco Airport and British Airways Have the Most Volatile Airfares: All things being equal — which they never are – San Francisco Airport and British Airways emerged from a Yapta benchmarking study as the most volatile airport and airline, respectively, in terms of wildly fluctuating airfares. Read more at Skift

SkiftStudio: Vancouver Airport Tries to Balance Authenticity and Entrepreneurial Mandate: Vancouver International Airport (YVR), renowned for its native art, waterfalls, streams, and blue and green hues, has to balance its local feel and design sensibilities with more practical matters. Read more at Skift

Changing Airline Economics Leave Pittsburgh Pining for More Non-Stop Service: It’s been a decade since US Airways shuttered its once-bustling hub at Pittsburgh International Airport. United recently dumped its hub in Cleveland. And Delta dropped Memphis and has made deep cuts in Cincinnati. Read more at Skift
3-D Render of Seat from Thales Press Department


Gogo Introduces Faster In-Flight Wi-Fi, Boosting Top Speed to 70mbs: Gogo Inflight announced today that it was introducing 2Ku, a faster Wi-Fi service on domestic and international routes using satellite connections in place of air-to-ground technology. Read more at Skift

The Business Class Seat of Tomorrow Will Blow Your Mind, and Freak You Out a Bit: A select group of members of the press were invited to a preview of the new prototype business class seat which the aviation tech geniuses at Thales have designed in collaboration with B/E Aerospace, one of the two world-dominating aircraft seat manufacturers, and BMW, who make some nice cars. Read more at Skift

Why Heartbleed Is the Most Dangerous Security Flaw on the Web: The ‘catastrophically bad’ bug has left Yahoo, Imgur, and countless other services vulnerable Read more at The Verge

Workers lay out pieces of shark fin to dry on a rooftop of a factory building in Hong Kong


Starwood to Ban Shark Fin at its Hotels and Restaurants Worldwide: Starwood Hotels announced plans to stop buying shark fin for all of its hotels and restaurants worldwide starting in July, a gutsy move for a chain that had 263 properties in Asia, including 130 in “greater China,” at the end of 2013. Read more at Skift

Hilton HHonors Hotel Category Adjustments for 2014 Announced: “Effective 15 April 2014, 25 of our hotels and resorts (0.6% of our properties) will be increasing hotel category, and 14 of our hotels and resorts (0.3% of our properties) will be decreasing hotel category”, according to FlyerTalk member and official company representative HHonorsRepresentative Read more at FlyerTalk

Room 77 Taps Google for an Exit Strategy of Sorts: Room 77 acknowledged last year that hotel metasearch was a lot harder to do than it first imagined.  Today it basically gave up on the business as a standalone site and licensed its hotel-search technology to Google. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

The business travel column that Scott Mayerowitz, the AP’s airline reporter, started at Travel + Leisure is picking up steam. Check out his latest post on how to improve the international travel experience.

Tips and Comments

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: A passenger walks through an American Airlines baggage claim area at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

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