What to Know Now

We all knew that something was afoot when news of “The Chairman’s Flight” broke earlier this year, but few expected the fallout to reach this far.

As of this week, United’s CEO Jeff Smisek is officially out, driven away by a federal investigation (or shakedown) over whether his airline maintained an airline route solely for the benefit of the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Reaction has been mixed. While UAL’s stock has been remarkably steady, frequent flyers are giddy about changes that may come to their mileage program while reports from the battlefield indicate that employees are hopeful.

With Oscar Munoz, the former COO of CSX now on board, a new United Continental may be around the corner.

Social Quote of the Day

Diana says I should take a few days off. I hear Columbia, SC is a nice place for a vacation home. Maybe I’ll go there.

– @FakeUnitedJeff



Airlines Are Looking to Make Amends With Travel Agents: It was a strange sight to see at the American Society of Travel Agents’ Global Convention last week: top sales executives from the major three U.S. airlines took the stage to praise travel agents. Read more at Skift

United Airlines Forces Resignation of CEO and Others Following Internal Investigation: United Airlines announced that Jeff Smisek will resign as CEO, effective immediately. Read more at Skift

The Chairman’s Flight That Got United’s CEO Fired: The origin of this investigation — which is not only internal at United but is also a more troublesome federal case involving the U.S. Attorney’s office — has its roots in a dinner between United’s Smisek and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman David Samson in September 2011 Read more at Skift

Expedia Investing Millions to Better Sell Airline Tickets: Many online travel agencies such as Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity over the years scurried to wean themselves away from their previous dependence on selling airline tickets in favor of a higher-margin hotel business but now Expedia wants to lean back a bit to reemphasize the sale of flights. Read more at Skift



Lufthansa Pilot Strike Leads To Cancellation of 84 Long-Haul Flights: German airline Lufthansa says it is canceling 84 long-haul flights because of a pilot strike. Read more at Skift

Survey: The Biggest Travel Pain Points for Passengers at U.S. Airports: More than half of U.S. air travelers (58%) define themselves as ‘careful planners’ who feel better when they are in control throughout the journey, and only 12% would characterize themselves as ‘open-minded adventurers.’ Read more at Skift

What Are the DIRTIEST Things on Planes? At Airports? Analysis shows that bacteria levels vary widely both in planes and at the airport. Read more at FlyerTalk

Is There an Uptick in Special Screening at TSA Checkpoints? It is unclear whether the uptick in special screening is linked to a global event, frequent fliers or travel to Turkey in general, but the government is being tight lipped. Read more at Skift



Uber’s Top Chinese Rival Raises $3 Billion in Latest Financing: Didi Kuaidi, the Chinese car-booking business competing with Uber Technologies Inc., is close to raising about $3 billion as it completes its latest round of financing, according to people familiar with the matter. Read more at Skift

Philippines Promises Nationwide Free Wi-Fi Service in a Year: The Philippines is planning free Wi-Fi services to half of its towns and cities this year and nationwide coverage by end-2016, limiting the data revenue prospects for Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe Telecom Inc. Read more at Skift

Only Two Airlines Have Embraced Apple Pay a Year After Its Roll-Out: Nearly a year after the launch of Apple Pay, Apple’s digital wallet, it’s still possible to count on one hand–make that two fingers–the number of airlines who let travelers use the service while onboard or while booking via mobile devices. Read more at Skift

ritz carlton


Blackstone Goes Upscale in $6 Billion Deal To Acquire Strategic Hotels: Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc., an owner of luxury lodging properties across the U.S., agreed to be bought by affiliates of Blackstone Group LP in a deal valued at $6 billion including debt. Read more at Skift

Your next hotel could offer a virtual reality experience: Marriott wants you to visit Chile, Rwanda, and Beijing from some hotel rooms via a VR headset. Read more at Fortune

Best Western CEO on Why America Needs a Secretary of Travel: Unlike most other industries, which rise and fall like the tides, travel remains a dominant force behind the expansion of the American economy, providing millions of jobs, billions in tax revenues and unique opportunities for the middle class and millennials. Read more at Skift

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Photo credit: United Airlines Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smisek, speaks during a panel discussion on unfair international competition at the National Press Club in Washington. 158036 / 158036

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