What to Know Now

The imitable Brian Sumers is reporting this week that United is ratcheing up its customer service on the battlefield — or in plain English — in airports and aircraft. Starting soon, airline agents will be able to give out vouchers of up to $125 (depending on your elite status) for flight disruptions, whether that’s a delayed flight, a broken seat or anything on the spectrum of things-that-can-go-wrong while flying on United.

All of this seems to be part of United’s apology tour, an effort to reconnect United with its estranged body of consumers and establish the airline once more as reliable.

Short of the macroeconomic problem of consumers vs. United though, the voucher program is simply good customer service. Agents should be empowered to fix problems as they appear and should be given the power to do so. With these new vouchers in play, hopefully there’s now an easier path to conflict resolution.

Social Quote of the Day

The FCC, lodging industry and tech experts really need to come together on this topic & find viable solutions.

@mshap | Michael Shapiro, Senior Editor, Meetings and Conventions, on Hilton blocking WiFi hotspots.

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Airlines

The Future of Airplane Seat Reclining or Not: To recline, or not to recline, is a troublesome question. Recent events in the U.S. air travel market prove that it is a volatile issue for some passengers, leading to aggression onboard. Read more at Skift

Virgin America’s CEO Wants to Avoid ‘Garbage Fares’: Virgin America’s focus on perks like in-flight video streaming from Netflix have helped its visibility in the U.S. air market, but it faces stern competition from the expanding ranks of low-cost carriers fighting for bookings from cost-conscious consumers. Read more at Skift.

Kicked Off a Plane? Here’s How to Handle It: Under what circumstances can you be ejected from a plane and what can you do about it? We asked George Hobica, the founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, to clarify. Read more at The New York Times

Ryanair CEO Continues Transformation as He Argues for Greater Cooperation: After a year spent cozying up to customers, Ryanair Holdings Plc boss Michael O’Leary is extending his goodwill in an entirely new direction: the competition. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Airlines and Airports Look Beyond the Industry to Improve Digital Retail: At the recent International Air Transport Association (IATA) World Passenger Summit in Hamburg, airlines and airports discussed the challenges posed by emerging technologies and the solutions or models which could be found outside the industry to help drive change. Read more at Skift

New York’s Port Authority Eyes Fees for Airport Pick Up and Drop Off: It might cost to pick up or drop off passengers at Newark, Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. Read more at Skift

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Tech

Expedia Acquires HomeAway for $3.9 Billion: Here we go: After years of speculation about whether it would be Expedia, TripAdvisor, the Priceline Group, or Google to purchase HomeAway, Expedia Inc. agreed to acquire the vacation rental giant for $3.9 billion in cash and stock. Read more at Skift

Avis Budget Is Disappointed With Its U.S. Business Traveler Car Rentals: Avis Budget Group’s CEO claims the company hasn’t felt any significant effects from the mainstreaming of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, but Avis’ disappointment with its business car rentals indicates some holes in that argument. Read more at Skift

5 Headphones for the Frequent Flier: The right set of headphones can make any trip — but especially air travel — a little more enjoyable. Although some of the latest choices have different features, all can be used with in-flight entertainment systems, cellphones and tablets, and to listen to music.  Read more at The New York Times

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Hotels

FCC Proposes Fining Hilton for Not Cooperating in Wi-Fi Blocking Investigation: The Federal Communications Commission announced today that it’s proposing to fine Hilton Worldwide Holdings $25,000 for not providing evidence related to a Wi-Fi blocking investigation involving the hotel. Read more at Skift

Red Roof Inn Talks International Strategy and Sweet Spots for Economy Lodging: The economy hotel sector currently makes up 19 percent of the hospitality industry, and signs point toward its continued growth both at home and abroad. Read more at Skift

Video: Ivanka Trump on Obsessing Over the Little Things: Ivanka Trump, executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, spoke at the Skift Global Forum with Skift Senior Editor Greg Oates about “Why Obsessing Over Details is The Only Way to Build a Hospitality Luxury Brand.” Read more at Skift

Your Turn

This week’s Whine About It is about airline travel. Enjoy it.

Tips and Comments

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Photo Credit: A United lounge in San Francisco. United Airlines