What to Know Now

A new loyalty program from American Express is about to launch that’s a unique mix of travel, credit card, and general consumer interest. Plenti, from American Express, is the bank’s attempt to expand its focus outside of simple banking or travel products and into the general consumer loyalty space. Member’s don’t need to use an AmEx for their purchases and can accrue points at a variety of outlets from Macy’s to Rite Aid to Exxon gas stations.

Naturally, there is a credit card that will fit into the program and some travel providers like National and Alamo will participate. But if this experiment pays off, we may be seeing more loyalty programs aimed at day-to-day purchases across a spectrum of providers (say, Safeway, Walgreens, and Shell) rather than singular programs and multiple cards. To me, that sounds like convenience.

You can learn more about Plenti over at their landing page.

Social Quote of the Day

Delta stopped publishing mileage award charts for its SkyMiles program in early February, sending many of its members and travel bloggers into apoplexy.

Justin Bachman, Bloomberg

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Airlines

Transatlantic Routes Profitable for British Airways Parent for First Time: British Airways parent IAG SA reported a first-quarter profit for the first time ever on increased trans-Atlantic business and a continued recovery of its Iberian arm. Read more at Skift

Bigger Planes Making Some United Flights a Bit More Roomy: Coach passengers used to rubbing up against neighbors on crowded U.S. flights are about to get something unusual on a few United Airlines flights: elbow room. Read more at Skift

Delta Adds More Blackout Dates to its Terms and Conditions: A month ago Delta updated its terms and conditions to add specific blackout dates for using SkyMiles to book awards on two of its partner airlines. Now they’ve added 2015 and 2016 blackout dates for Korean Air into their terms and conditions. Read more at View from the Wing

Why Airline Loyalty Programs Are More Confusing Now: U.S. airlines are changing the rules of their frequent-flier programs and, befitting air travel, being greeted with a measure of rage. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Surprise: Even the Experts Think That LaGuardia Airport Is Terrible: A design panel commissioned by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has vowed to renovate the decrepit LaGuardia International Airport, has recommended sweeping changes including the creation of a “great hall” that would serve as the main entrance to travelers at the much-derided facility. Read more at Skift

It’s a Bad 10 Days to Be an Airline Passenger in Portugal: Pilots at Portugal’s state-owned national airline have begun a 10-day strike, forcing flight cancellations as they press their demand to be given up to a 20 percent stake in the company when it is privatized later this year. Read more at Skift

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Tech

Lyft Internal Documents Reveal the High Cost of Uber Rivalry: Behind the friendly pink mustaches and fist bumps, Lyft is spending furiously to maintain second place in the U.S. ride-sharing industry, and steal market share from the distant leader, Uber Technologies. Read more at Skift

Are the Skies Ready for Fully Immersive 3-D Passenger Entertainment? With buzz around the new head-mounted displays (HMDs), and airlines’ desperate to distract passengers from cabin conditions, it comes as no surprise that the aviation industry has been asking this question recently, some going as far as launching trials. Read more at Skift

Hidden City Startup Skiplagged Wins Minor Skirmish in United Battle: United Airlines lost a legal round in its effort to stop a website that helps people find “hidden city” ticket pairs. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

Hilton CEO: Getting a Mid-Scale Brand Is Where Our Opportunity Lies: As Starwood’s investors pressure the company to consider merger and acquisition possibilities, Hilton’s CEO was keen to talk about what this means for his brands and how a new mid-scale brand for Hilton would make a lot of sense. Read more at Skift

Marriott CEO Wants More Acquisitions But Not Starwood-Type Deals: Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson is bullish on merger and acquisition activity, such as its purchases of AC Hotels, Gaylord Hotels, Protea Hospitality Group, and Delta Hotels in recent years, but he is decidedly not interested in Starwood-type deals. Read more at Skift

Why Hotels Are Saying Goodbye to Check-In and Check-Out Times: With red-eye flights, delays, and cancellations, checking into your hotel can sometimes be a pesky and costly proposition. And when it’s time to leave, getting the boot in the morning isn’t exactly the best way to say au revoir to your vacation. By tradition (and business model), hotels have strict check-in and check-out times to make sure the turnover runs smoothly for incoming guests. While this makes sense, a new trend is emerging, and some properties are adopting a 24-hour check-in/check-out policy. Read more at Yahoo Travel

The 12-Room Hotel That Turned a Barren Archipelago Into Chile’s Next Big Thing: Chiloé is the most charming part of Chile you’ve probably never heard of. Less bucket-list flashy than Patagonia in the country’s south, or the Atacama Desert in the north, this temperate archipelago of over 30 islands holds more subtle pleasures. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

This month’s Weekday Wanderlust in San Francisco has been scheduled for May 19th. Led by the fantastic duo of Don George and Kimberley Lovato it’s a who’s who of travel writers in the Bay Area. Stop by if you’re in town.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm[at]skift[dot]com or to @grantkmartin

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