What to Know Now

There’s a new survey on the best airlines with award seat availability out today from Ideaworks. In tallying their data, Ideaworks effectively looks for the number of mileage tickets available on each flight across an airline’s network; wider availability (more flights with available seats) produces a higher rating. By that formula, Ideaworks places Airberlin, Southwest, Virgin Australia, and JetBlue on top. Domestically, Delta also gained ground this year after they were “shamed into improving” according to this WSJ video.

Not considered in the Ideaworks survey was the cost of the mileage tickets. So two tickets at 120,000 miles each on Delta in this survey was effectively the same as two tickets at 25,000 miles each on United. Everyone values their miles differently though, so I suppose that’s difficult to measure.

Scott McCartney from the Middle Seat column at the Wall Street Journal does a good job of breaking down data. Check it out and make your own informed decisions about loyalty.

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Top Story

For the three rich people and the 40,000 dreamers reading this newsletter these are indeed high times. Every premium carrier you can shake a novelty amenity kit at is redesigning their first and business class in what our own Marisa Garcia calls an airline “arms race,” and some amazing designs will be soon reaching the market.

Monday’s Skift Business Traveler talked a bit about Etihad’s new ridiculous offerings including butlers and three-room residences (again, this is in flight). And Air France just unveiled a sleek new first class product that’s winning them acclaim across the media. Qatar, on the other hand, is just focusing on a premium business class.

On the surface, the goal would seem to be aimed at the first and business class dollar. Delta’s doing it. The Gulf carriers are doing it. The economy is recovering, right? Equally important though is the image that the first class cabin projects onto the rest of the product. Everyone wants to fly the world’s fanciest airline, even if they’re in coach and the front cabin is empty. So why not make the impossible more impossible?

Who Wants To Pay For My Etihad Residence Ticket? No, Really! – http://goo.gl/z7LAvK

 – @OneMileataTime Ben Schlapping, blogger at One Mile at a Time



The New Airline Trying to Crowd Fund an All-Business Class, Trans-Atlantic Service: Odyssey Airlines wants the crowd to fund their business ambitions, announcing on April 30 that they intend to use Crowdcube to raise the nearly $8.5 million it needs to “enter the next phase of development,” which will help their business-only airline concept to fly. Read more at Skift

American Airlines Rolls Out 8 New Routes to Smaller U.S. Cities: American Airlines Group Inc. said Monday that it will begin eight new daily nonstop routes this fall from big hub airports to mostly smaller cities such as Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more at Skift

Air France Enters the First-Class Suite Aviation Arms Race: As part of the ongoing new design frenzy in aviation, reaching unprecedented levels of activity and new reveals, with airlines doing their best to best the competition, Air France has just debuted their new La Première designer suite to its First Class cabin onboard nineteen of their 777-300s. Read more at Skift

Qatar Air Focusing on Business Class Rather Than Splashing Out on First: Qatar Airways Ltd. showcased its Airbus A380 first-class service with a more reserved design than the premium cabins unveiled yesterday by regional rival Etihad Airways PJSC, underscoring diverging views on the most expensive seats that are becoming increasingly difficult to fill. Read more at Skift

WestJet Shows Passenger Growth as Battle for Air Canada’s Business Flyers Ensues: WestJet Airlines Ltd. reported first- quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as the carrier flew more passengers and revenue growth outpaced an increase in fuel and airport operations costs. Read more at Skift


Philly Officials Refigure Airport Expansion Plan to Mitigate Local Impact:
Plans to boost the regional economy through a multibillion-dollar modernization of Philadelphia International Airport can move forward without displacing hundreds of nearby residents, officials said Monday. Read more at Skift

TSA Creates 6 Rotating Advisor Positions to Help Improve Customer Service: U.S. security officials are turning to tourism and travel executives for help in improving something the Transportation Security Administration is not famous for – customer service. Read more at Skift

Virgin’s Richard Branson Writes Saucy Love Letter to Dallas Love Field: After running into headwinds from Dallas politicians and Southwest Airlines, Virgin America’s Richard Branson is embarking on a charm offensive to take two gates at Dallas’ Love Field — literally. Read more at Skift

Dallas Love Field Gate Debate to Be Decided by End of Week: A decision on the fate of two Love Field gates being divested by American Airlines will come by the end of the week, the Dallas city manager told the City Council today. Read more at Skift


Google Maps Update Includes Uber Integration: A major win for Uber is hidden within today’s Google Maps update for iPhone and Android. Read more at Skift

This is the President’s New $1.2 Billion Helicopter: The U.S Defense Department is getting a helicopter upgrade. It’s signed up for a fleet of new options for Marine One, the designation for whichever Naval chopper carries the president, in a $1.24 billion initial contract with Sikorsky Aircraft Co. Read more at The Verge

EasyJet to Use Drones to Inspect Its Planes: The airline hopes to introduce the drones as early as next year following trials in the next few months. Read more at Skift


Interview: How Thompson Hotels Tried to Remake the Hotel Website: The new Thompson Hotels website provides an interesting case study about how to integrate visual design, brand storytelling, social media and booking functionality, while at the same time streamlining navigation. Read more at Skift

Dorchester Hotels Is Coming Out Swinging Against Its Critics: The Dorchester Collection is facing boycotts and criticism over its owner’s praise of and support for state-sanctioned killings of gays, lesbians, and adulterers in Brunei. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Our own Jason Clampet had a nice spot on the BBC about the sharing economy and its future. In it, he talks about how companies like Lyft and Airbnb are going to have to grow up in order to make it in the mainstream economy. Check it out here.

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: The new first class on Air France is one of many new long-haul, first class offerings. Air France

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