First Free Story (1 of 3)

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Key to any frequent flier’s long term success is a good credit card. While some unlucky travelers are forced to use corporate cards, other, more flexible travelers often use personal cards to accrue extra points and then simply fill out expense reports.

The result: bonus travel perks.

Among the favored cards are the Chase Sapphire card and the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express, but with stiff competition coming down the pipeline, both will need to evolve.

Starwood’s AmEx is the first to announce changes. Later this year, holders of the card will get free Boingo Internet worldwide, no foreign transaction fees and complimentary premium in-room internet access. Oh, and the annual fee will also go up from $65 to $95.

Personally, I don’t give a toss about free Wi-Fi (I get it anyway) or Boingo internet (I carry a hotspot). But it’s good to see AmEx on top of its game. Keep the upgrades coming.

Social Quote of the Day

Not worth the added fee. I have plenty of no-foreign-fee cards already, and I already get Boingo through my Platinum card.

-Mike @ ThePointsGuy



Delta Won’t Be Adding the New Ticket Fee That Lufthansa Is Pushing: Don’t expect Delta to follow Lufthansa’s lead in charging consumers and travel agents a surcharge for bookings that occur outside the airline’s websites and call centers. Read more at Skift

The Subtle New Alitalia Look Has Small Risks, Big Rewards: Yesterday, the world met a new Alitalia, and found it familiar. A fine thing, when you can pull it off properly. Read more at Skift

Airline tries 3-drink limit to crack down on unruly fliers: A major European carrier is trying to curb alcohol-related flight disturbances by capping the number of drinks it serves to any one passenger. Read more at USA Today

Delta’s CEO Is Spoiling for a Fight, Even While Peers Play It Safe: In the past few years, Delta Air Lines’ CEO offended some Middle Easterners with a reference to Sept. 11, pitted the carrier against Boeing Co. in a trade issue and upset conservatives at home in Georgia. Is this any way to run an airline? Read more at Skift



Chicago O’Hare Can’t Get Things Right, Despite Its Promises: Jetliners roared down O’Hare’s newest runway as Chicago officials cheerfully touted the latest piece of a decade-long overhaul as a tipping point that could cut delays in half and dramatically improve the reputation for bottlenecks at one of the nation’s busiest airports. Read more at Skift



Instagram’s New ‘Shop Now’ Feature Can Turn Inspiration Into Bookings: Over the past two years startups have tried to hack Instagram to make it shoppable, with little success. Read more at Skift

The Etihad Twitter Feed You Can’t Follow Unless You’re Super Special: Etihad Airways brings rarified air to the Twitter-sphere by introducing the world’s first VIP airline Twitter, exclusively for its top-tier Etihad Guest members. Read more at Skift

New Hotel Booking App Offers Upgrades and Perks While Still Giving You Points and Elite Credit: The idea is to offer hotels that are part of major chains, and reservations that will still earn points and accrue credit towards elite status while offering additional perks for booking through them. Read more at View from the Wing

Southwest’s Website Can’t Manage an Influx of Deal-Desperate Shoppers: A massive slowdown on the Southwest Airlines website stretched through a second day on Thursday, leaving many customers unable to book flights during a big fare sale. Read more at Skift

Bill Fortier


For Hilton Worldwide’s Hotel Deal-Maker It’s All About the Timing: The Caribbean is heating up in hotel development for Hilton Worldwide and that’s largely because things are getting too expensive or saturated in big cities in the U.S. at the moment. Read more at Skift

Farm to Table to Hotel for Smart Properties Looking for Authenticity: Local food and beverage (F&B) is one of the most fundamental ways to create a local authentic hotel experience, compounded by the fact that homegrown F&B attracts locals to hotel restaurants and bars. Read more at Skift

Miami’s Condo-Backed New Hotel Developments Derailed By Strong Dollar: The sales office for condominiums at Miami’s Brickell City Centre attracted more than 100 visitors daily last year, with prospective buyers crowding in and snapping selfies beside a scale model of the $1 billion project. Read more at Skift

Baltimore’s Newest Hotel Is Smaller and More Expensive Than You’d Expect: Inside the Ivy Hotel at North Calvert and East Biddle streets, a curved staircase rises three stories past leaded windows, leading to rooms with canopied beds, fireplaces and bathrooms with heated French limestone floors and deep tubs. Read more at Skift

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Photo Credit: American Express' SPG branded credit card. American Express