What to Know Now

With regulatory approval from the European Union this week, Marriott and Starwood inched closer to the finish line in their race to a completed merger. After approval from China next month, the two hotel giants plan to become one.

That milestone is only the beginning of the merger as far as business travelers are concerned. Much needs to be integrated in terms of booking engines and branding while the customer experience, including two vastly different loyalty programs, needs very careful attention. While Marriott’s CEO assures those communities that everything will be groovy, many, particularly those in the Starwood space, have their doubts. With news now that the merger is all but complete though — naysayers are either going to have to start drinking the Kool-Aid or heading to greener pastures.

Social Quote of the Day

RNC trying to get out of Trump.
UK trying to get out of Brexit.
Some just trying to get out of Windows 10 upgrade.

– ‏@stevesi | Steven Sinofsky, Board Partner @a16z

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Airlines

Spirit Airlines Can’t Make You Love It So Instead It’s Just Trying to Be on Time: Spirit Airlines Inc. is the carrier that leads the pack when it comes to customer gripes. With that in mind, its new boss is trying to repair one crucial aspect of the business: getting to your destination on time. Read more at Skift

JetBlue to Match Virgin America Flyers’ Points Balances: JetBlue and Virgin America have been sparring over customers ever since JetBlue failed to acquire its rival earlier this year. Read more at Skift

U.S. Airlines Set to Lose Major Battle Against Gulf Carriers in Open Skies Debate: In a potential blow to United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines, the U.S. State Department is not expected to seek official consultations with the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to discuss whether Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways have unfair competitive advantages over their U.S. counterparts, according to a person familiar with the matter. Read more at Skift

Brexit Continues to Punish Global Airlines in Europe and the U.S.: Global airlines continued to tumble as investors worried that demand for flights through the U.K. could suffer following the country’s decision to leave the European Union. Read more at Skift
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Airports

Istanbul’s Airport Rocked by Multiple Explosions and Gunfire: Two explosions have rocked Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, killing at least 10 people and wounding around 20 others, Turkey’s justice minister and another official said Tuesday. Read more at Skift

Chicago’s Mayor Announces New Hotels For O’Hare Airport to Make Spending a Night Easier: Finding a hotel room near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport will soon be a little easier. Read more at Skift

Allegiant Air Will Expand Its Low-Cost Service to Newark, Trespassing on United’s Turf: Allegiant Air, one of America’s most successful discount airlines, is finally expanding into the Big Apple — or at least close to it. Read more at Skift

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Tech

The Corporate Travel Firm That Launched a Consulting Business to Leverage Smart Data: Sometimes it’s not enough to take reservations, provide access to discounts, and manage booking tools. Read more at Skift

10 Free (or Cheap) Travel Apps Worth Downloading: After a week of downloading and trying out various travel and navigation apps, I reached an unfortunate conclusion: Most of them are worthless — clunky, buggy, seemingly desultory efforts by developers rushing a poor product to market. There are a few, though, that provide elegant solutions to some of travel’s more common complications, doing what a good app should do: make life easier. Read more at The New York Times

Why Simple in Travel Can Be So Much Better Than Big Data: Walk through any airport or city center, and you’re surrounded with nebulous sounding ads touting the benefit of big data and the power of the cloud. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

Waldorf Astoria’s New York Landmark to Close Next Year to Convert Rooms to Condos: New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel is scheduled to close in spring 2017 so owner Anbang Insurance Group Co. can begin converting most of the more than 1,400 rooms to luxury condominiums, said a person with knowledge of the plans. Read more at Skift

The Lifestyle Hotel Sector Needs a New Story to Tell in an Airbnb Era: Is the lifestyle hospitality sector becoming the very commoditized product that its proponents have rallied against since the 1980s? Read more at Skift

Marriott-Starwood Deal Gets Antitrust Clearance From the European Union: Marriott and Starwood are that much closer to completing their mega merger next month. Today, both companies announced they received unconditional clearance from the European Union for Marriott to buy Starwood in a merger transaction originally estimated to be valued at around $13.6 billion in late March/April. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Stephen Greenwood‘s final project as a creative director of Reddit Video is a 360° AMA interviewing the crew of the Gone VR film. Check it out here.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo Credit: The Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Richmond, Va. Four Points will soon be one of the 30 brands in Marriott's arsenal. Steve Helber / Associated Press