What to Know Now

Airlines are constantly exploring new ways for consumer to burn frequent flyer miles. In addition to the ability to set the terms of the sale (we’ve decided that 40,000 points is worth this $5 Starbucks card!) it also them to sell more seats (instead of give them away) — so there’s a constant incentive to cook up new ideas.

The most recent concept comes in the form of a pop-up shop from United Airlines in Newark Airport where frequent flyers can actually purchase physical items with their miles. Only problem: most of the stuff isn’t worth the points. Zach Honig from TPG took a wander through the shiop earlier this week and concluded that it’d be cheaper to buy most things with cash online.

Still, the pop-up is a creative way to get MileagePlus members to use their points — and for the 1%, the exact value of each purchase may not be too important. If the concept catches on it’d be great to see other brick and mortar concepts taking points as currency.


@lyft, congrats on the new app. I’ll come back when you increase pay & remove tipping option. People shouldn’t depend on handouts.

– @thatadamguy | Adam Lasnik, Google Flights Program Manager



Airlines’ Answer to Holiday Frenzy Is More Flights, Bigger Planes: Airlines are shifting the timing of thousands of flights, even adding dozens of redeyes, as they try to avoid delays while hauling millions of passengers from now through the Christmas weekend. Read more at Skift

Budget Travelers Struggle to Earn Elite Status as New Airline Rules Take Effect: This year the calculus for earning elite status on many carriers changed, requiring passengers to accrue a minimum spend alonRead more at Skifthttp://skift.com/2015/12/22/12-best-long-haul-airline-seats-in-the-sky-to-fly-in-2016/g with a requisite number of flown miles. For many budget travelers, those new rules are making it difficult to earn elite status as the year comes to a close. Read more at Skift

Study Says Passenger Bill of Rights Created Wave of Airline Cancellations: A U.S. rule designed to spare travelers from being stranded on the tarmac has actually spurred significant additional flight delays. Read more at Skift

12 Best Long-Haul Airline Seats in the Sky to Fly in 2016: Long-haul flight can be excruciating, but it doesn’t need to be.



United Airlines Has Stress-Reducing Dogs at 7 Airports This Holiday Season: A team of professionally trained comfort dogs at Dulles International Airport is helping ease travelers’ stresses this holiday season. Read more at Skift

Atlanta Airport Is Ready to Welcome Its 100 Millionth Passenger of the Year: Officials say they expect the 100-millionth passenger using the airport this year to arrive Sunday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Read more at Skift

Read This Before You Pack Valuables in Your Checked Luggage: Liability limits may vary depending on the mode of transportation, but no company wants to give you a dime for anything of value. Keep that in mind when you pack. Read more at Conde Nast Traveler

Egypt Hires U.K. Risk Consultancy to Help Improve its Airport Security: Egypt has hired British consultancy Control Risks to help boost airport security, almost two months after a Russian airliner crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 224 people. Moscow blamed a bomb onboard. Read more at Skift

Kayak snap


Lyft Is Chasing After $1 Billion in New Investment: Ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. plans to raise as much as $1 billion in new funds, according to a Delaware state filing, in a round of financing analysts said could sharply boost the valuation of Uber Technologies Inc.’s largest U.S. rival. Read more at Skift

Microsoft Pitches Its New HoloLens as Evolution of Augmented Reality: Microsoft opened the HoloLens Developer Experience Showcase at its Manhattan HQ last week for software developers to try out the new HoloLens headsets, so they can build apps for the “first-ever, fully untethered holographic glasses, powered by Windows 10.” Read more at Skift

12 Travel Apps Worth Keeping in 2016: I’m ending the year with an app purge. I’ve kept only what I use often. An app didn’t have to be new (most weren’t) to make the cut, but it had to make travel easier or significantly more enjoyable. Below are a dozen that have earned a spot on my smartphone heading into 2016. Read more at The New York Times Travel

Kayak to Launch New Text-Based Travel Service: Oh snap: Kayak is apparently looking to get a little less digital. Read more at Skift

hotel RL


Red Lion Turns to Crowdfunding for New D.C. Lifestyle Hotel: Using the crowdfunding platform EarlyShares, Red Lion Hotels and Shelbourne are launching an opportunity to invest in the conversion of the Quincy Hotel in Washington D.C. into Hotel RL, the hotel company’s boutique brand. Shelbourne is looking to raise $3,540,000 total, and is requiring a minimum investment of $25,000. Read more at Skift

Kimpton’s Loyalty Program One Year After IHG Buy Is Still OK: In the year since IHG’s acquisition of Kimpton Hotels, the boutique hotel brand has yet to make any major announcements on the status of its loyalty program. Read more at Skift

Interview: OYO Rooms CEO on Reinventing Hotel Distribution: Founded in 2013 and flush with $126 million in funding, OYO Rooms has taken the notoriously haphazard budget hotel sector in India and built the country’s largest branded hotel network by implementing standards for everything from air-conditioning to the thread count of sheets. Read more at Skift

3 Leading Hotel CIOs on the Secrets to Strategy and Innovation: Increased demand for a multifaceted hotel chief information officer — one who is fluent in technology and business operations while understanding a company’s financials — is transforming the required skill set and the role itself. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Our good friend David Farley just filed a great piece in the New York times on the trail of Kafka in Prague. Track it down here.

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Photo credit: United's MileagePlus X app for in-store purchases. Shutterstock

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