What to Know Now

The Skift Business Traveler has been filed from dirty hotel rooms, “wi-fi” equipped airplanes and even from the back of a moving Uber, but one place that has eluded my efforts is Wyoming. I apologize for the delay in your normal Thursday newsletter.

Whilst away, the American traveler seems to have lost his in-flight manners. Both an American and a United flight were derailed this week due to passengers upset about seat recline, the latter in United’s roomier Economy Plus section.

Seat recline? Aren’t we past that? Look, I get it: air travel sucks. The airlines are doing everything they can to cram us in as tightly as possible and we’re not getting any smaller. Like it or not though, it’s everyone’s right to recline their seat, so we all have to suck it up.

Subscribe to the newsletter here and send tips to gm@skift.com or @grantkmartin.

Top Story

There’s much talk in the airline world about whether an international first class is actually necessary for the future of premium travel. As illustrated by this year’s business class wars, the line between business and first class is starting to fade. Lie-flat seats are becoming the norm; food is improving; amenity kits are getting fancier. How much more does one need in first?

On heavy routes such as London to New York, a premium first class cabin can often make sense — but most others are less lucrative. American, in fact, is reconfiguring a portion of their 777 fleet for two-cabin service.

As The Age suggests, the first class era may be coming to a close.

Social Quote of the Day

How a ‘knee defender’ diverted a United Airlines flight http://mktplc.org/1qKChhq

@Marketplace

 

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Airlines

Delta Drops In-Flight Duty-Free Business: Earlier this month Delta bowed out of the duty-free retail business, telling its passengers: “Delta apologises for any inconvenience to our customers and as a reminder, a variety of duty free items are available at most international airports.” Read more at Skift

Fighting for Legroom at 40,000 Feet Isn’t Worth It: It’s hard to sympathize with anyone in this story: United Airlines diverted a flight after a passenger used a “knee defender,” apparently in violation of United’s clear policy, and refused to remove it when the flight attendant told him to … and the traveler who was thus prevented from reclining threw a cup of water at him. Read more at Skift

3 Airline Seats That Can Stop the Battle for Legroom: As the world asks whether ’tis nobler to recline or not to recline, we took a peek at some of the user-friendly aircraft seat developments that are most likely to calm rising tensions. Read more at Skift

Ryanair Follows EasyJet’s Lead and Rolls Out Fares for Business Travelers: Ryanair Holdings Plc started selling flexible tickets targeting business passengers as Europe’s biggest discount carrier seeks to gain credibility among corporate and government customers. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Atlanta Airport Officials Unveil Plan to Add 6th Runway and Upgraded Terminals: Travelers at the world’s busiest airport are likely to see new parking garages and renovated terminals over the next decade, and possibly a sixth runway and more concourses after that, according to a master plan proposed by Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport officials Wednesday. Read more at Skift

TSA PreCheck Program Hits 500,000 Enrollment Milestone: Wednesday was a milestone day of sorts for the Transportation Security Administration. Just nine months after rolling out the PreCheck program for the public, the TSA said it hit the 500,000 mark for enrolled travelers. The TSA also runs separate expedited security programs for military personnel, Department of Defense employees and airline frequent flyers. Read more at Skift

European Aviation Waits for Strikes by Air France and Germanwings Pilots: Pilots at Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s discount unit Germanwings and Air France threatened to go on strike as Europe’s two biggest carriers push to rework their domestic and long-range operations and bring down costs. Read more at Skift

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Tech

Flight Searcher Skyscanner Launches Hotel-Only App: In classic metasearch style, Skyscanner Hotels, available as an iOS app, enables users to search for hotels and then to book them on sites such as Booking.com, Hotels.com, Venere, EasyToBook, Getaroom or the hotel’s website. An Android version of the app will follow soon, officials said. Read more at Skift

Inside Google’s Secret Drone-Delivery Program: For two years, the company has been working to build flying robots that can deliver products across a city in a minute or two. Read more at the Atlantic

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Hotels

Rising Hotel Fees Show No Sign of Slowing Down: Hotels are on the brink of a profitability renaissance as increased occupancy coupled with rising room rates and multiplying ancillary fees plump U.S. hoteliers pockets. Read more at Skift

Do Robots Have a Real Future in the Hospitality Industry? An image of a robot delivering bath towels to hotel guests or one mixing margaritas on cruise ships would only recently just be the stuff of science fiction films or old Jetsons cartoons. Today, it’s closer to reality. Read more at Skift

Last-Minute Hotel Bookers Prove More Moderate Than Spontaneous: Necessity, not spontaneity, might be the real reason that last-minute hotel booking apps and features have grown so quickly. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Heyheyhey – according to Passport Health, our CEO and co-founder Rafat Ali is at the very top of the most influential people in travel. That’s four spots above Elon Musk!

Congratulations Rafat.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm@skift.com and @grantkmartin. We publish the Business Newsletter twice a week on Monday and Thursday, unless Grant is stuck in Wyoming.

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Photo Credit: Who needs First? This new business class seat from Air France offers flyers full privacy and full-flat beds as well as 16-inch screens, Bose headsets, and ample personal space. Air France