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I was able to try out the car rental company called Silvercar in Los Angeles yesterday (ask me how much I love redeyes later) and I walked away from the experience generally pleased. The company, which only rents Silver Audi A4s, is the boutique solution to enormous, faceless agencies like Avis, National, or Hertz. Concierges meet you at each pickup — in my case the cell phone lot of LAX — and drive you back to the airport once you drop off your car. Prices are reasonable (I paid about $100 for a full day in L.A.) and the cars are peppy and fully loaded with navigation and even wireless internet. Overall, it’s a solid experience.
Whether it will resonate with business travelers is another question. I’m attracted to National because Emerald status is easy to acquire and maintain, their cars are new, service is fast and I can partner with my airline miles. While Silvercar meets and beats some of these qualities, they have to balance reasonable cost and a loyalty program to really lock in the business dollar.
We’ll see how they handle the next year. In the meantime, you can pick up your own Silvercar at Austin, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco.
In the slow march to a unified American and US Airways, there’s news today that the two airlines loyalty programs will be fully merged in early 2015. Facets of each program will be updated through the year though, including reciprocal upgrades as soon as this week. Though partner passengers wont get the full upgrade experience, this should alleviate part of the stress on business travelers flying on opposing carriers.
It’s a bit disappointing, however, to hear that mileage balances wont be combined until next year. Many business travelers have been splitting flights between US Airways and American this year expecting that the total flown miles (ie, elite status) will be combined before 2015. Now many have to scramble to make it to their respective carrier goals.
Social Quote of the Day
United Continental: One Sick Bird: Nearly four years after United Continental Holdings Inc. began its bumpy takeoff as a merged airline, it still is struggling to reach cruising altitude. Read more at the Wall Street Journal
Review of Airline Mileage Programs Reveals Winners and Losers in Loyalty: The point experts at MileCards released a study last week that ranked the major airline loyalty programs, demonstrating that there are clear winners and losers in the mileage game. Read more at Skift
Big Three Gulf Airlines Chart a Path to Global Dominance: The blazing June heat meant that the only people walking outside in Doha were migrant workers, mainly from the Indian subcontinent, in hard hats and high-vis jackets, labouring to construct the ever-growing Qatari capital. Read more at Skift
JFK Airport Manager Resigns Amid FAA Investigation: The general manager of John F. Kennedy International Airport retired days after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration notified the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that it was investigating two incidents related to runway lights. Read more at Skift
World’s First Supersonic Jet Airport, Bush Intercontinental, Turns 45: Its white terrazzo floors polished to a hard shine, Houston’s newest airport welcomed thousands on a bright, sunny day in June 1969 to kick off a weeklong open house. Read more at Skift
Heathrow Terminal 2′s Latest Food Upgrade Is Claudia Schiffer’s Private Chef: Good British food is back in business, specifically at Heathrow Terminal 2, where Claudia Schiffer’s ex-private chef, Sophie Michell, along with three of her friends, is opening The Gorgeous Kitchen today. Read more at Skift
British Airways Likely First Customer of Europe’s New High-Speed In-Flight Wi-Fi Service: Inmarsat has announced that it will deploy a hybrid air-to-ground network for airline passenger connectivity services across Europe. Read more at Skift
90% of U.S. Flyers Rarely or Never Buy In-Flight Wi-Fi: The majority of U.S. flyers today are not willing to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi when it’s offered on their flight. Read more at Skift
Senator Pushes Airlines to Add Movie Captions for Hearing Impaired Flyers: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) wants U.S. airlines to add closed captioning to movies that are shown during long flights in an effort to aid hearing impaired airline passengers. Read more at Skift
The Bumps and Turns Behind the Wheel at FlightCar: FlightCar has a fascinating shared-economy pitch: Cut the costs of parking at an airport and renting a vehicle from one by letting your parked car double as a rental car. Read more at Skift
Marriott Courts Gay and Lesbian Guests and Employees, Despite Politics: Marriott International launched its #LoveTravels marketing campaign on June 2, targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender customers—as well as pro-LGBT consumers—with a campaign designed to “convey the company’s commitment to make everyone feel comfortable being who they are.” Read more at Skift
New Shangri-La Hotel Opens in the Clouds Over London: After speeding 20 feet per second inside an ultra high-speed, double-decker Kone EcoDisc elevator up to the 35th floor, you walk into the upper lobby of the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London heady with anticipation. Read more at Skift
The Midwest Hotel Brand Putting Beds Inside Contemporary Art Museums: As global hotel brands go head-to-head in a race to align themselves with independent local hotels that travelers are increasingly seeking out, a small three-hotel group is quietly building its brand power in the middle of America. Read more at Skift