What to Know Now

For those of you who fly British Airways (or have BA miles) some dark clouds are forming on the horizon. Over at View from the Wing, Gary points out that Iberia, BA’s partner, just ratcheted up the cost of their mileage tickets on OneWorld carriers — by a lot. This could seriously impact the value of flying on British and collecting Avios, so if you’re considering booking an award ticket, do it now.

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Top Story

“Would anyone miss the check-in desk if it disappeared?” asks The Economist’s Gulliver? “Probably not.” At O’Hare this week, United started rolling out new self-serve kiosks for tagging checked bags. In addition to cutting labor costs for frontline staff (spin that as you like), the changes should save lots of time for travelers across the board – simply check in for your flight, print out your baggage tag, affix, and push it towards the luggage collector. I’m interested to hear how it works out.

This isn’t a revolutionary change by another cost-cutting American carrier either — Qatar has been doing this at select airports for a while. So has Lufthansa. This week’s move at O’Hare is just the first of many expected to sweep across the country. Best to get used to it now.

Social Quote of the Day

Why Iceland’s volcano eruption (probably) won’t be a travel headache: http://gizmo.do/azpGFSc

@gizmodo

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Airlines

Three-Class Planes Are an Unnecessary Luxury in Air Travel Today: Three-class cabins on international jets, once a hallmark of passenger pampering, are dwindling at the world’s largest carrier. Read more at Skift

Iceland Volcano Erupts, Creating Ash Plume That Could Threaten Airlines: Iceland warned airlines of a potential ash plume that may disrupt flights as one of the island’s biggest volcanoes erupted after a week of rumbling. Read more at Skift

Survey: Two Thirds of Americans Don’t Have A Preferred Airline: The survey found that 63 percent of respondents don’t have a preferred airline, and that only 5 percent (including me) consider getting frequent flier miles to be the most important consideration when selecting a flight. So what are customers looking for in an airline? Read more at about.com

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Airports

United Brings Self-Service Bag-Tagging to O’Hare Airport: United Airlines on Friday quietly rolled out self-service bag-tagging at Chicago O’Hare airport. Read more at Skift

Ramenskoye Military Airfield to Become Moscow’s 4th International Airport:  Ramenskoye airfield in Moscow’s southeast suburbs, currently a cluster of hangars that serves as a launch pad for prototype military aircraft and home to one of world’s largest air shows, is set to be transformed within two years into Moscow’s fourth international passenger airport. Read more at the Moscow Times

WWII Bomb Found Near Frankfurt Airport:  A World War II bomb found Tuesday next to a highway near Frankfurt airport was disposed of in a controlled explosion, causing some disruption to flight operations. Read more at ABC News

A spin around the new Airbus A350: Finnair will be the first European carrier to get its hands on the new bird when it takes delivery of its first of 11 in 2015. Initially, Finnair plans to deploy the A350 on routes between Helsinki and Bangkok, Beijing, and Shanghai. Read more at TravelSkills

People walk past an American Airlines logo at John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport in in New York

Tech

Twitter bomb threat diverts plane carrying Sony Online Entertainment president:
An American Airlines flight was diverted after a group of supposed hackers used Twitter to call in a bomb threat. The group, which had previously claimed responsibility for recent PlayStation Network downtime, appeared to target the flight because Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley was on board. Read more at The Verge

Ralph Lauren is making a tech-infused polo shirt: Of course, nearly everything the company makes is a “wearable,” but these particular shirts contain conductive silver threads and other sensors designed to measure performance. Read more at Engadget

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Hotels

Chicago Hotels Report Record Number of Occupied Rooms in July: Demand for hotel rooms grew by 1.4 percent in July, according to figures released Thursday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city’s tourism arm, Choose Chicago. Read more at Skift

Mimicking the airlines, hotels get fee-happy: Forget bad weather, traffic jams and kids asking, “Are we there yet?” The real headache for many travelers is a quickly-growing list of hotel surcharges, even for items they never use. Read more at the AP

Starwood Hotels to Open 3 Very Important Hotels in China Next Month: Starwood Hotels & Resorts has done exactly what they said they would do in their expansion into China and the Asia Pacific. There are, and have been for quite some time, more hotels in the works than we can keep up with. Almost all Starwood brands have or will soon have an address in China, including Element Hotels, which is opening next year. Read more at HotelChatter

Your Turn

Johnny Jet is currently traveling through (and tweeting!) Myanmar. Follow along on his journey here.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm@skift.com and @grantkmartin. We publish the Business Newsletter twice a week on Monday and Thursday.

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Photo Credit: Passengers check in to United Airlines flights at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. United Airlines