What to Know Now

Blurry-eyed at 4am last week in Hong Kong’s Sheraton Towers, I stumbled into my bathroom and picked up the soap and shampoo. Looking down at the faded logos on the bottles I thought to myself: “I can’t believe they still use these.”

Sheraton has been overdue for an overhaul for a while. Though it’s still an excellent brand and most hotels under its umbrella are exceptional, it suffers from a tired design that many business travelers find droll.

Starwood wants to change that. Over the next five years the hotel chain is going to see sweeping change including updated designs, food and beverage offerings and local flavors. Combined with a strong network of Starwood hotels and a great loyalty program, hopefully this can push Sheraton back up to the top of the food chain.

Social Quote of the Day

WiFi at Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel is quite slow: 1.8Mbps @spg @sheratonhotels http://t.co/pRt90gSoGX

@EverywhereTrip Gary Arndt, SATW & NATJA Travel Photographer of the Year

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Airline

Alitalia Shows Restraint in Its New Cabin Renovations: What do you know, the new Alitalia looks familiar on the inside too. Read more at Skift

Can a Universal Luggage Size Make the Carry-on Process Better? Frustrated by confusing carry-on baggage policies? Unsure whether your roller will fit that overhead bin? Anxious over being shamed on social media by pics of your worldly goods protruding from an overstuffed duffle sausage? Fret not: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) plans to make it all OK. Read more at Skift

Qatar Airways Is in the Hunt for Alliances Through Investment: Qatar Airways Ltd., already one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines, is looking to build its global presence by buying up stakes in other airlines. Read more at Skift

JetBlue Tries to Hold on to What Made It JetBlue as It Enters Next Phase: Marty St. George was standing in JFK’s Terminal 5 on Tuesday, wearing a black pinstriped suit, his airport credentials dangling on a lanyard with the words “Red Sox” emblazoned on it, and he was talking to a couple of reporters about what’s obviously his pride and joy, the terminal. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Nominee to Head TSA Is Worried About the Current State of Airport Security: The Coast Guard admiral picked by President Barack Obama to lead the Transportation Security Administration is as concerned about reports of rampant security gaps at airports as lawmakers, he said during a confirmation hearing Wednesday. Read more at Skift

Athens Airport Is Leading Greece’s Tourism Rebound, But It May Not Be Enough: Athens International Airport has outperformed many of its peers in Europe, showing the highest figures of passenger growth in April among airports its size, and a percentage of growth superior to any of the EU’s largest airports. Read more at Skift

What a Gate Agent Can (and Can’t) Do For You: They are the airline cattle wranglers. Gate agents herd stressed passengers, corral luggage and listen to loud pleas all day long. Read more at the Wall St. Journal

TSA Whistleblower Says PreCheck Is Weak Point in U.S. Airport Security: The U.S. agency that screens passengers for explosives and weapons at airport checkpoints has been handing out passes for expedited screening “like Halloween candy,” a whistleblower told a U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday. Read more at Skift

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Tech

Starwood Working Out Wrinkles on Keyless Entry 6 Months In: Last November, Starwood launched its keyless entry campaign. The program was built to allow smartphone and smartwatch users the ability to remotely check into their rooms and unlock their doors, bridging the gap between today’s hotel systems and tomorrow’s smart technology. Now deployed to nearly 150 hotels though, the rollout has not been smooth. Read more at Skift

Europcar’s CEO Says Europe’s Rental Car Market Is About to Consolidate: Europe’s fragmented car rental market is ripe for consolidation, according to the chief executive of Europcar Group SA, one of the continent’s largest such groups. Read more at Skif

Korean Taxi-Hail App Beat Uber in Seoul, Now It’s Coming to New York City: The operator of South Korea’s most popular taxi-hailing smartphone application is considering expanding the service to New York after overtaking Uber Technologies Inc. in Seoul. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

Sheraton 2020 Repositioning Plan Focuses on Local Experiences: Sheraton Hotels & Resorts is going local with a 10-point plan dubbed Sheraton 2020 to be rolled out over the entire portfolio of 435 hotels during the next five years. Read more at Skift

Marriott Becomes First Hotel Chain to Offer Guests Netflix: Marriott International Inc. says its flagship hotel unit will offer guests access to Netflix Inc.’s streaming-video service on TVs in its guest rooms. Read more at Skift

4 New Reasons to Plan a West Coast Getaway: Summer’s here, which means it’s time to plan a weekend getaway—and these four hotels are perfect if you’re looking for a quick weekend trip on the West Coast. Read more at Conde Nast Traveler

Your Turn

Ross and Scott over at Matador just put together an amazing series of clips flying over Jordan. Joyce from our team covers it here.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo Credit: Promotional image for Sheraton's 2020 program. Starwood Hotels & Resorts