Support Skift’s Independent JournalismMake a Contribution Now
What to Know Now
One of the worst thing about flying business on part of United’s international fleet these days is the cabin configuration. On select United 747 and 777 aircraft, business cabins are arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration, meaning that two seats in the middle of each row have zero aisle access.
On Thursday, United unveiled plans to rectify that design, in a complete cabin overhaul now branded as Polaris. The new premium experience includes lie flat seats with aisle access for every passenger as well as a brand new airport lounge experience including pre-flight dining.
In short, it’s exactly what United needed. New meal service starts on December 1 while it’ll take several years for the reconfigured aircraft to start seeping into the fleet.
Now perhaps United can start looking into the 10-abreast seating in economy?
Social Quote of the Day
What the heck is Polaris you ask? Polaris is the North Star. What does this have to do with business class? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Qatar Air CEO Is Happy With His Carrier’s Current Stake in British Airways’ Owner: Qatar Airways Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said he’s happy with the level of the company’s 15 percent stake in British Airways owner IAG SA and won’t seek a seat on the London-based company’s board. Read more at Skift
Delta and United Consider Bids to Buy Colombia’s Avianca: Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. are weighing bids for Avianca Holdings SA, a Latin American airline exploring strategic options including a full or partial sale, according to people familiar with the matter. Read more at Skift
United’s CEO Reveals the Airline’s New Business Class Product: Business travelers, who may pay $5,000 for a trans-Atlantic flight, want seats that are comfortable to work, eat and sleep in. They want direct access to the aisle, particularly on overnight flights where nobody wants to have to crawl over a sleeping passenger to use the bathroom. So, United is giving its business class seats their first upgrade in a decade — and removing middle seats from those planes still have them in the premium cabin. Read more at Skift
Qatar CEO Blasts ‘Wicked’ Delta Actions for Ruining First Atlanta Flight: Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker branded Delta Air Lines Inc. “wicked” over what he said was the U.S. carrier’s part in ruining the Middle Eastern company’s first flight from Doha to Atlanta. Read more at Skift
LaGuardia’s $4 Billion Makeover Begins Shortly With Some Demolition Work: Demolition work will soon begin at LaGuardia Airport, the first visible signs of a $4 billion project to rebuild the aging, cramped facility. Read more at Skift
Would Lowering the $85 PreCheck Price Get More People to Sign Up? The agency’s PreCheck program is designed to fix that problem and move the lines—but only 2.77 million people have enrolled to date, far below projections. The TSA wants to have 25 million people signed up by 2019 for federal “trusted traveler” programs such as PreCheck, for domestic travel, and Global Entry, the program for international travelers run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Read more at Skift
Airlines Push Back Against Proposed Curbside Airport Screening: Airlines are opposed to screening passengers just before they enter an airport, with such steps — widely proposed after the March 22 bombings in Brussels — likely to increase waiting times and prove ineffective in preventing attacks, the International Air Transport Association said. Read more at Skift
Delta’s In-Flight Entertainment Will Soon Be Free for All Passengers: Delta Air Lines announced this morning that beginning July 1, in-flight entertainment would be free on 90% of the airline’s fleet. Read more at Skift
United Airlines takes a pass (for now) on Delta’s new onboard entertainment policy: Delta Air Lines threw down the gauntlet today on the onboard entertainment front. But Chicago-based United Airlines, isn’t taking the bait. At least not so far. Read more at The Chicago Business Journal
Gogo Feels Pressure as American Airlines Splits In-Flight Wi-Fi Order With ViaSat: Gogo Inc. tumbled the most in more than three months after American Airlines Group Inc. split an order between the company and ViaSat Inc. for in-flight, satellite based internet service. Read more at Skift
Apple Partnership Shows Lyft’s Growth in Corporate Travel: Apple sent an e-mail to its employees in March, informing them of a change in transportation policy: “We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Lyft.” The email instructed Apple employees to take the pink mustachioed ride-hailing company for “safe, convenient and affordable rides when traveling for business.” Read more at Skift
South Korea’s Giant Hotel IPO Delayed Due to Executive Investigation: Lotte Group’s initial public offering of its hotel unit, which may be South Korea’s largest listing on record, will be delayed after reports said a company executive is being investigated, according to people familiar with the matter. Read more at Skift
Accor Stock Rises on Rumors Chinese Firm Aims to Increase Its Stake: Accor SA, Europe’s biggest hotel operator, rose the most in six weeks after Le Figaro reported that China’s Jin Jiang International (Holdings) Co. wants to increase its stake in the company to 29 percent. Read more at Skift
IHG Is Spending $200 Million to Reinvent Crowne Plaza in the Americas: Crowne Plaza wants to shed its image as just another business hotel, and transform that brand perception into something more meaningful and forward thinking. Read more at Skift
Marriott Tries Storytelling to Sell Renaissance Hotels to Business Travelers: Marriott’s Renaissance Hotels brand is embarking on a broad and innovative storytelling campaign targeted specifically to a very particular segment: business travelers. Read more at Skift
Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report was published last week. Read the 213 slide megadeck here.
Tips and Comments
Can be sent to gm[at]skift[dot]com or to @grantkmartin