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I spent some time at the Freddies last week, where airlines and hotels are awarded for the best loyalty programs. In attendance: some of the best and brightest members of the loyalty community, including American Airlines, Marriott and IHG, all of which all won multiple top honors.
With over eight million ballots cast there is plenty to think about when planning your future business travel. As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, loyalty should be based on travel habits and priorities versus global benefits, but the data in these awards is a good place to start. Take a look at the top programs here or the full report here.
How does an airline lose $489M in a quarter while competitors are making record profits? United can’t blame the weather for everything, and now investors are starting to ask harder questions about the viability of the company. Beyond the inclement weather (that impacted almost every airline), David Koenig from the AP reports that issues with IT, customer service and seat management seem to be the biggest problems slowing United down. And as one flying almost exclusively on United this month with spotty inflight internet and constant gate mismanagement, I’ve seen those problems first hand. Let’s hope that United can turn this ship around in Q2.
Meanwhile, the speculation team is out and suggesting that Alan Mulally, the CEO who kept Ford afloat during the great recession, could be a good candidate to come in and replace Jeff Smisek.
Social Quote of the Day
Incredibly smart move by @TripAdvisor in creating a “Travel Advocate” position for @wendyperrin http://j.mp/1mRhc8j
JetBlue May Begin Charging for the First Checked Bag Next Year: JetBlue is open to the possibility of charging for first checked bags next year, a move that would leave Southwest as the only U.S. airline balking at charging for first and second checked bags. Read more at Skift
Why United Was the Biggest Airline Loser This Quarter: On Thursday, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines reported record profits for the first quarter, usually the weakest time of year for the airlines. That followed a rousing report from Delta Air Lines a day earlier. Still stuck on the tarmac: United Airlines. While rivals were making money, United lost another $609 million during the first three months of the year. Its shares plunged $4.22, or 9.2 percent, to $41.84 in afternoon trading. Read more at Skift
Low-Cost Carrier Battle in Europe Grows as Ryanair Rivals Gain Strength: Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA and the low-cost arms of Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG gained in Europe’s discount-airline market as they added routes faster than regional industry leader Ryanair Holdings Plc. Read more at Skift
Emirates Business Class Service on A380s Makes an Impression: Served solely by a Boeing 777-300ER until this month, the Emirates Gatwick to Dubai route is now also serviced by an Airbus A380. I flew business-class from Gatwick on a Boeing service and returned from Dubai on an A380. Gatwick passengers accustomed to flying with the 777 will find the A380 offers a significantly enhanced experience. Read more at Skift
Virgin America Gets Two Gates at Dallas Love Field, Will Launch Flights in October: Virgin America won the Dallas Love Field sweepstakes, and picked up two gates that American Airlines agreed to divest as part of the American Airlines-U.S. Airways merger settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Read more at Skift
Alaska Airlines CEO Prepares to Take on Delta’s Challenges in Seattle: Only a day after Delta revealed it plans by the third quarter of 2014 on being the largest airline in terms of revenue in Seattle — both Alaska Airlines’ headquarters and its largest hub — Alasksa Airlines CEO Brad Tilden conceded there is a competitive threat, but expressed confidence “we’ll come through this as a stronger company.” Read more at Skift
Rising Flight Delays and Cancellations a Direct Result of Airline Consolidation, Study Finds: Flight delays and cancellations rose as competition between carriers declined at U.S. airports, according to a study ordered by Congress in the wake of airline mergers. Read more at Skift
The Airplane Seat Design That Can End the Battle of the Armrest: The biggest battle in the air isn’t between American Air and United, or British Airways and Ryanair, or even Spirit Air and its customers. It’s the one that happens where two coach-class seats meet. Read more at Skift
London Tube Set For Strikes This Coming Week: Talks to avert two weeks of transport disruption in London were continuing as London Underground bosses outlined plans to deal with a total of five days of strikes on the tube, starting on Monday night. Read more at Skift
Lyft Uses $250 Million Injection to Expand to 24 New Cities: $250 million of venture funding can buy a lot. And alternative-cab company Lyft is using its recent cash infusion to open up its service in lots more American cities. Read more at Skift
U.S. Travelers Are Using Their Mobile Phones A Lot More Than We Think: Despite roaming and data charges, an astounding 90% of U.S. travelers say they use their mobile phones when vacationing domestically or abroad. Read more at Skift
Marriott and American Airlines Take Top U.S. Honors in Freddie Loyalty Program Awards: The annual Freddie Awards, which highlight the travel industry’s best loyalty programs, were announced last week. Read more at Skift
How to Get a Reservation at a Sold Out Hotel: Often hotels are sold out in advance of major events, like the Presidential Inauguration in DC, but once the room blocks expire hotels find that they have unsold rooms and they’re quite anxious to move them. Read more at View from the Wing
New York Attorney General Wants to Shut Down Airbnb’s ‘Illegal Hotels’: “We’re not saying that people can’t sublet rooms,” he said today at a forum hosted by Crain’s New York Business in Manhattan. “We’re not saying this model should be eliminated completely. But we are saying you can’t run illegal hotels.” Read more at Skift
Well, we found out where Wendy Perrin, the legendary consumer reporter from Conde Nast went this weekend. She left her role at one of the leading print publications in the travel industry to head to one of the largest digital publications: TripAdvisor. Read her full Q&A over at Skift here. And congrats, Wendy.