WHAT TO KNOW NOW
Virgin America has never been a favorite for hardcore business travelers because of its basic loyalty program, limited route network and lackluster transcontinental first-class product (read: no lie flat seats). But with a few changes they made on Wednesday, the top half of the problem sandwich may be getting tastier.
Starting this month, Elevate elite members are permanently getting boosted point bonuses on each flight — 100 percent more for Silver members and 40 percent more for Gold. Frequent flyers are still tied to Virgin America’s revenue-based program which doles out points based on how much your ticket costs, but with many carriers moving in that direction, Elevate shekels may no longer feel as cheap as they used to.
Still not sure if you’re up for it? The airline also expanded its status match offer (currently for American, Delta, United and Southwest) to include members of JetBlue’s TrueBlue program. If it’s free, it’s worth at least signing up.
SOCIAL QUOTE OF THE DAY
#A350 Inviting Public To Help Name A350?
Alaska Airlines Wants Virgin America to Fulfill Its Corporate Travel Ambitions: Alaska Airlines executives admitted on the airline’s quarterly earning call last week that attracting more business travelers was a big reason it decided to go through with its pricey acquisition of Virgin America. Read more at Skift
JetBlue CEO: We Don’t Need Virgin America to Compete: JetBlue’s attempt to acquire Virgin America fell short when the high price of the airline would have impacted its organic growth plans in the U.S., according to JetBlue executives on the company’s Q1 2016 earnings call. Read more at Skift
JetBlue Takes Delivery of First U.S.-built Airbus Aircraft: The first aircraft to be built by Airbus in the United States was delivered to New York-based JetBlue on Monday in a football-themed ceremony at the Airbus manufacturing plant in Mobile, Ala. Read more at USA Today
To Attract More Premium Passengers, Asian and Middle East Airlines Raise the Bar on In-Flight Meals: These days, about four million meals are consumed in the air every day. So with competition increasing between the highest-rated airlines in Asia and the Middle East, it’s no surprise that their battalions of food trolleys are in the vanguard of the fight for premium passengers. Read more at Skift
The State of the World’s Lost Luggage: It’s that time of year again when SITA updates us on the industry’s progress losing less (we hope) of our luggage. The results of SITA’s WorldTracer data for 2015 are good, but news on progress to eliminate baggage headaches in the future is better. Read more at Skift
China Will Build Another Chengdu Airport to Meet Growing Demand: China plans to spend as much as 71.9 billion yuan ($11 billion) on a second airport in the southwestern city of Chengdu to help meet growing demand for air travel in the world’s second-biggest economy. Read more at Skift
Lyft Is Trying to Make Big Gains with Corporate Travel Managers: When hundreds of travel managers and suppliers attended a conference for corporate travel executives in Dallas recently, the ridesharing company Lyft sent emails in advance offering free trips from the airport. Read more at Skift
Google Is Planning on Launching a Travel Assistant App: Is it telling that Google will be rolling out a beta of “a new travel assistant app” this week and that it will be certain members of its Local Guides program who will be among the first to get a “sneak peak?” Read more at Skift
The New ‘Smart’ Sleep Mask That Promises to Banish Jet Lag: Traveling can take its toll on your body by disrupting your sleep patterns and your body clock to make you feel tired and irritated. But a smart new face mask from a Polish-American tech start-up is promising to help you sleep better, beat the effects of jet lag and even get energised with the help of light therapy. Read more at The Daily Mail
Interview: Why Travel Managers Need to Care About What Travelers Want: Corporate travel policy exists to guide business travelers to make preferred travel decisions that limit their employer’s expenses and ensure safety when on the road for work. Yet more business travelers are making booking decisions that clash with company policy, opting instead to stay at their own preferred hotel brands and use sharing economy services like Uber instead of corporate-mandated car services. Read more at Skift
Carlson Hotels Bought by China’s HNA Tourism Group for Undisclosed Sum: A major Chinese company has acquired a U.S. hotel brand, but the deal involves neither Anbang Insurance Group nor Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Read more at Skift
AccorHotels’ Acquisition of Fairmont, Raffles, Swissotel Brands Clears Antitrust Regulations: AccorHotels, Europe’s largest hotel operator, received antitrust clearance approvals in all relevant jurisdictions today, allowing it to proceed with its $2.9 billion acquisition of FRHI Holdings, the parent company of the Fairmont, Swissotel, and Raffles hotel brands. Read more at Skift
Airbnb Tests Hotel-Style Packaging and Amenities in Sonoma, CA: At about the same time Airbnb launched its brand-new, largest-ever campaign, Live There, it also quietly launched a brand-new pilot program that tests the platform’s ability to offer more of a hospitality-driven, hotel-like experience. Read more at Skift
TIPS AND COMMENTS
Can be sent to gm[at]skift[dot]com or to @grantkmartin
Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch
Photo credit: A Virgin America aircraft taxis to a gate at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Dan Peltier / Skift