What to Know Now

In the wake of losing the bidding war for Virgin America, JetBlue is out this week with some strong moves to capture marketshare.

Setting its sights directly on Virgin America and Alaska, the airline first launced a promotion aimed at disenfranchised customers of the merging carriers, promising to give 500 tickets away to new passengers. Shortly after that, it announced a massive expansion of the Mint program, the business class product oft raved about by business travelers.

Given the slow degradation of legacy carriers’ loyalty programs and the upcoming turmoil at Alaska and Virgin America, it’s a good move by JetBlue to expand their customer base. Now who’s taking the bait?

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Airlines

Populist Rage in the U.S. Only Goes so Far When It Comes to Airline Regulations: Republican leaders are lauding an aviation policy bill before the Senate as the most passenger friendly in years, but there are limits to friendship. Read more at Skift

Skift CMO Interviews: Why Finnair Markets the Destinations First: Finnair has built a strong brand by tapping in to its cultural and geographic uniqueness. By developing a customer-centric service model, with an emphasis on smart retailing, it has also strengthened its financial position. Read more at Skift

Virgin America Fans Ask if Alaska Airlines Takeover Will Mean Loss of Cool: For younger business travelers like Nicole Bansal, Virgin America’s mood lighting, customer service and technology have filled a niche not found on legacy airlines. Read more at The New York Times

Ryanair Is Inviting Passengers to Complain Via App: Ryanair Holdings Plc, once notorious for its spartan cabins and hands-off attitude to customer service, plans to give passengers still unconvinced by a recent charm offensive a platform to make their gripes clear. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Brussels Bombing Prompts Inclusion of More Security Measures in Aviation Bill: Democrats said Tuesday they will push proposals to boost security at airports, train stations and other transportation hubs in response to attacks by the Islamic State in Brussels and elsewhere. Read more at Skift

Environmental Groups Sue the EPA for Not Enforcing Limits on Aircraft Pollution: A coalition of environmental groups sued federal regulators on April 12 over long-sought pollution standards for airliners and cargo planes. Read more at Skift

Belgian Air Traffic Controllers Launch Wildcat Strike as Airport Tries to Recover: Belgian air traffic controllers continued strike action on Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of flights at Brussels airport as it struggles to get back up to capacity after the March 22 suicide bombings. Read more at Skift

American Airlines’ CEO Calls Delta’s Air Traffic Control Plan ‘Harmful to Us’: American Airlines Group Inc.’s top executive lashed out at Delta Air Lines Inc. for splitting with other U.S. carriers that support a proposal to privatize the nation’s air-traffic-control system. Read more at Skift

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Tech

Exclusive: Kayak to Launch Restaurants, Tours and Activities Comparison-Shopping Features: Kayak is poised to launch two new metasearch products for restaurants, and tours and activities. Read more at Skift

Interview: Amex Global Business Travel’s CTO on Corporate Travel Going Mobile: Online booking tools are becoming the new normal in corporate travel. For years, a focus on traveler safety and adherence to travel policy were primary concerns. But business travelers, trained by consumer tools for years now, are now clamoring for better control of their trips while on the go. Read more at Skift

Marriott, Hilton, Mandarin Oriental Among the Most Digitally Adept Hotel Brands: New York-based brand consultancy firm L2 released its annual list of the most digitally savvy hotel brands in the upper upscale and luxury sectors, and for the second year in a row, Marriott Hotels took top honors as a “genius.” Okura Hotels & Resorts ranked lowest among 55 brands for its “feeble” digital competence. Read more at Skift

5 New Travel Startups Turning Workers Into Digital Nomads: Technology has made remote working and work abroad experiences more feasible than they’ve ever been. The trick is getting more employers on board who aren’t accustomed to seeing remote working experiences as productive. Read more at Skift

 

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Hotels

Starwood Uses Instagram Fashion Influencers to Drive Bookings for Its Newest Tribute Portfolio Hotels in Paris: The power of Instagram as a social media marketing platform, and that of user-generated, or earned content, is increasingly being harnessed into a tool for e-commerce. Today, Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced that it is enabling booking via earned content on Instagram for two of its newest Tribute Portfolio hotels, both located in Paris — Le Metropolitan and Le Dokhan’s. Read more at Skift

Chinese Hotelier Considers Raising Its Stake in Accor Hotels: Jin Jiang International (Holdings) Co., which controls China’s largest lodging company by market value, is considering increasing its stake in French hotelier Accor SA, people familiar with the matter said. Read more at Skift

Here Are The Details Of Starwood’s Next Global Promotion: Starwood has now announced the details of their next global promotion, called SPG Triple Up. Registration for the promotion will open on May 3, 2016. The promotion will be valid for stays between May 9 and July 31, 2016. Read more at One Mile at a Time

Your Turn

David Lytle, the former head digital muckity muck over at Frommers.com has been secretly blogging over at MapHappy for the last month. Follow his work here.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo Credit: JetBlue's Mint class is being strategically deployed to position it as the better choice for transcontinental travel. JetBlue