What to Know Now

United’s CEO Oscar Munoz is finally heading back to the job after a heart attack and months of rehabilitation, and his first task is a monster. Earlier this week, several of United’s investors raised a stink and tried to push the company’s board in a new direction, citing ineffective and entrenched management.

It’s true that United hasn’t been the most perfectly run airline over the last several years, but with a turnaround now in full effect and a CEO back on the job, one would hope that the board could get back to being productive. If former Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune has his way though, changes could be afoot.

Social Quote of the Day

Gordon Bethune is a star but he’s not what @United needs

– @airlineguys | Airline Guys, Aviation SMEs.

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Airlines

United Proxy Fight Waged by Online Travel Veterans, Ex-Continental CEO: Two hedge funds, which own a combined 7.2 percent of United Continental Holdings’ shares, are waging a proxy fight to turn things around at the airline by electing six online travel and cruise veterans, as well as the former Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune and a former automotive CEO, to the 15-director United board. Read more at Skift

The Designers That Have Mastered the Better First-Class Cabin: First class has an image problem. With Business class reaching previously unheard levels of luxury, First is just not looking as attractive and exclusive as it once did. But top designers at Seymourpowell, London, have come up with a solution which promises to put the First back in First class, while leaving room on the plane for an up-scale Business class experience. Read more at Skift

Airline Fees Are Out of Hand, a Bill From Senators Says: What once was free on airlines now often translates to fees. Read more at The New York Times

United Airlines CEO Returns 5 Months After His Heart Attack: United Continental Holdings Inc. chief executive officer Oscar Munoz, who underwent a heart transplant after falling ill five months ago, will return to full-time duty next week. Read more at Skift

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Airports

EU Airports Increasingly Turn to Private Investment to Compete With Global Counterparts: The Airports Council International Europe (ACI-Europe) has updated a 2010 report on the share of private ownership at EU’s airports revealing a dramatic rise in private investment over the past six years. Read more at Skift

Airline Industry Group Predicts Record U.S. Passenger Numbers This Spring: The number of passengers flying in the U.S. this spring will rise 2.8 percent to a record 140 million, supported by affordable fares and available flights, according to industry group Airlines for America. Read more at Skift

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Tech

The Tiny Hilton Robot Concierge That Hints at IBM’s Ambitious Plans for Travel: Hilton Worldwide and IBM are collaborating to pilot a new Watson-enabled robot concierge. Read more at Skift

Google’s New Mobile Tool Lets You Compare Destinations by Price: As part of a series of product introductions that Google began introducing in beta in November, the search engine has officially launched a feature on mobile that enables users to conduct side-by-side price comparisons of flights and hotels for disparate destinations within a country. Read more at Skift

Uber Is Now Easier for Business Travelers to Expense: Uber’s new partnership with Concur, Expensify, Certify and Chrome River to streamline ride expensing is another step towards the total integration of Uber into the habits of business travelers. Read more at Skift

New Gogo Deal Means Faster In-Flight Wi-Fi From Pole to Pole: Following a series of competitive leaps in the Wi-Fi space race in recent weeks, Gogo announces that it has struck a deal to cover the globe with high-speed Wi-Fi. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

Marriott Is Already Worried About Paris Hotel Bookings This Summer: Hotel group Marriott International is concerned about tourist bookings in Paris this summer after November’s attacks on the French capital, an executive at the firm said on Tuesday. Read more at Skift

First Move by a U.S. Senator to Ease Rules on U.S. Hotels Operators in Cuba: A U.S. senator is urging the Obama administration to ease restrictions on investment in Cuba so American hotels can operate in the island nation. Read more at Skift

Hilton CEO Is Thinking About Cheap Urban Hotels for the Airbnb Generation: Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., the world’s biggest hospitality company by number of rooms, may add a new brand that focuses on small, cheap hotels in big cities, Chief Executive Officer Chris Nassetta said. Read more at Skift

InterContinental Hotels Is Looking in Asia for a Luxury Brand to Buy: InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, the third-biggest hotels operator in Asia by number of rooms, is seeking to add new luxury chains in that region, either by acquiring a competitor or by developing its own brand, according to Chief Executive Officer Richard Solomons. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Gabriel Leigh’s Outpost project on Fusion has been picked up by HBO.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo Credit: A United plane on the tarmac. Activists investors are pushing the airline to appoint new board members. AeroIcarus / Flickr