What to Know Now

The day of reckoning has come for budget travelers and those who are required to book the least-expensive ticket. American and United are following in the footsteps of Delta Air Lines and introducing ultra-budget airfares. The airlines announced their official intentions at a JP Morgan conference just last week.

Built to compete with low-cost carriers, these new budget fares strip away all of the typical perks of frequent travel — seat selection; luggage fees — but most importantly, they take away the ability to score free upgrades. For many, that may be the final straw before breaking the loyalty camel’s back.

No firm date has been set for the cutover, but both airlines suggested that the new fares would come in the second half of this year. Expect strong pushback from the loyalty cohorts from each airline — and a deaf ear on the other side.

Social Quote of the Day

Great. Since my company pretty much requires us to take the lowest fare (within a certain percent), I will never, ever, be able to use the 100+ 500 mile upgrades that I have and will continue to accumulate. Maybe I will be wrong on this…. My AA Platinum status is looking more like a tin foil chewing gum wrapper…..

Jim L @ View from the Wing

United-Economy-Plus2

Airlines

Lufthansa’s Low-Cost Carrier, Although Profitable, Still Struggles: Deutsche Lufthansa AG is pushing to keep its low-cost Eurowings unit profitable even after delays in ramping up long-haul services added costs to the German carrier’s effort to respond to the likes of Ryanair Holdings Plc. Read more at Skift

United Slams Timing of Board Fight While Dissidents Say Motives Are Pure: A United Continental Holdings official questioned the timing of the shareholder fight to elect six new members, including former Continental chairman and CEO Gordon Bethune, to the airline’s growing board lineup while one of those dissident shareholders countered “we only care about helping re-build a world-class Board and airline.” Read more at Skift

Airlines Would Have to Standardize How They Disclose Fees Under New Bill: The government would standardize the way airlines disclose fees for basic services like checked bags, seat assignments and ticket changes so that passengers can more easily comparison-shop the full cost of flights under a bipartisan Senate bill introduced Wednesday. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Atlanta Wants to Tell Passengers It’s Successful, Not ‘Busy’: Marketing folks at Atlanta’s airport recently concluded the obvious: Travelers don’t love the “b” word. Read more at Skift

TSA hires officers, shifts dog teams to shorten lines: Growing wait times at airport checkpoints are spurring the Transportation Security Administration to hire more screening officers and reassign canine teams to busier airports, the TSA chief said Friday. Read more at USA Today

Rob Torres Google

Tech

Google Says It Definitely Won’t Become an Online Travel Agency, Unless It Does: As Google officially launched Destinations on Google, on the same day across two continents, Google Travel executives delivered conflicting messages about whether the end game could be Google becoming an online travel agency. Read more at Skift

The Best Ways to Stay in Touch on the Road: It’s hard to even imagine the days of sending telegrams: Now, staying connected while you travel just keeps getting easier, and more fun, as technology increasingly enables us to catalog and instantly share our global experiences with friends and family back home. Read more at Conde Nast Traveler

Hospitality Robots Show Off Tricks and Limitations at ITB Conference: Chihira Kanae is greeting visitors to the world’s biggest travel fair in Berlin this week, answering questions and guiding people in the right direction. But one passer by’s attempt to ask her out for dinner is met with silence. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

Marriott and Starwood May Be Close To Signing Cuba Deals: Marriott and Starwood want to join Airbnb and start doing business in Cuba. Read more at Skift

Report: What Online Hotel Ratings and Reviews Aren’t Telling Consumers: That online hotel reviews are extremely important—both for potential guests and hotel management—is undisputed, but to really improve hotel operations, looking at numerical ratings isn’t enough. Read more at Skift

Marriott Positions Its Towels in a Made in the USA Branding Experiment: At a time when the health of the U.S. economy and job market are being heavily debated in this year’s presidential elections — and one candidate has come under scrutiny for manufacturing branded products for his hotels in China — Marriott International says it is making a patriotic commitment. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Joshua Berman’s column in the Denver Post this week is on how to raise your kids outdoors. Give it a good read.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo Credit: A rendering of a MileagePlus Chase Sapphire Preferred card. United Airlines