Skift Take

Although you may be stuck in the middle seat — hey, look — there's free in-flight entertainment.

What to Know Now

While you were busy eating free stroopwafels, you lost your upgrade privileges. That’s the punchline of two stories out this week detailing how the big three U.S. airlines are improving a variety of small perks across the airline experience while some of the larger perks like upgrades are fading away.

On the winning side of that equation, the good news is that lounges, catering and inflight entertainment are on the upswing thanks to heavier competition and a healthy profits across the industry.

Part of those profits, however, are coming from more aggressive marketing and pricing around premium cabins, which means that more first class seats are full and fewer are around for upgrades.

For once, the 1% gets the shaft

Social Quote of the Day

“For sure on my next trip I’m going to look into Newark.”

Good luck with that!

@dansaltzstein | Dan Saltzstein, Editor at The New York Times Travel Section

JetBlue Core Marketplace


The State of Airline Upgrades for the Big 3 U.S. Carriers: Until recently, if you had even mid-tier elite status with an airline, you could bet on getting upgraded from economy to business or first class on many, if not most, of your flights. Not anymore. These days, scoring a free upgrade has become the exception rather than the rule of frequent flying. Here’s why—and what you can do about it. Read more at Skift

After Record Profit, Air New Zealand Expects Increased Competition: New Zealand’s national airline on Friday posted a record profit thanks to surging tourism and lower fuel costs, but warned it expected increased competition from rival international carriers in the year ahead. Read more at Skift

Ryanair Looks to Boost Bookings by Slashing Ticket Prices: Ryanair Holdings Plc told analysts it’s cutting prices more than anticipated this summer, helping to boost bookings and increase occupancy levels on its flights. Read more at Skift

Kinder, Gentler Airlines Bring Back Free Snacks and Entertainment: After decades of red ink, U.S. airlines have gotten their financial houses in significantly better order. And while this new wherewithal certainly won’t mean more legroom or free checked bags, some carriers are exploring inexpensive ways to make flying economy class a smidge less arduous. Read more at Skift

Mideast Qatar Airport


Qatar’s International Airport Adds a New Fee for Passengers: Qatar’s main Hamad International Airport is adding a $10 fee for all passengers departing from the airport, including on connection flights. Read more at Skift

As LaGuardia Is Overhauled, the Check-In Line Starts at the Highway: Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s bleak assessment of LaGuardia Airport as “third-world” propelled a complete reconstruction. But the path to a modern LaGuardia was not supposed to include travelers dragging luggage through gridlocked traffic on a highway to catch their flights. Now it does. Read more at The New York Times

Cuba Clears Last Obstacle to Scheduled Commercial Flights From the U.S.: Cuba said on Friday it was ready to receive U.S. commercial flights beginning next week and that it viewed their renewal after being suspended in 1961 as another positive step in a growing detente. Read more at Skift

New York LaGuardia’s Redevelopment Already Has Travelers Worried: There could be turbulence for travelers during the multibillion dollar renovation of New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Read more at Skift



Speedy Wi-Fi Is Finally Coming to European Short-Haul Flights: Starting early next year, travelers on some Lufthansa flights in Europe will be able to surf the web using airborne Wi-Fi that promises speeds and coverage that trounce existing offerings. Read more at Skift

Corporate Travel Companies Still Trying to Figure Out Mobile Tools: Travel managers are likely to give travelers the thumbs up to use an app or two, but a new study shows that very few companies have a comprehensive mobile strategy in place yet. Read more at Skift

The Next Killer App: Always-Listening Voice Assistants: Voice recognition has come a long ways since my dad first purchased Dragon NaturallySpeaking to avoid learning how to type back in 1999. Back then, it could hardly understand me, let alone someone with his accent. Read more at Arjun Sharma’s Rad/Tech Blog

Boeing Wants Passengers to Control Their Experience Via Smartphones: Boeing is developing technology that could make the flight attendant call button obsolete — but don’t expect to see it on an airline soon. Read more at Skift



Hotel Occupancy and Airfares Drop for Tourists to Miami: Travelers have booked fewer hotel rooms in downtown Miami, and leisure airfares to the greater Miami area have inched down in the weeks since the Zika virus was detected there, data reviewed by Reuters shows. Read more at Skift

Airbnb Says It’s Cleaning Up New York Listings While Governor Mulls New Law: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo must soon decide whether to authorize hefty fines for many people who offer to rent out their New York City apartments on Airbnb. Read more at Skift

How Smart Hotels Use Messaging to Connect With Guests: Earlier this year, Skift proclaimed messaging as the “new language of the globe” and asked, “Are travel brands listening?” It looks like hotels finally are, if they haven’t already. Read more at Skift

Upscale Hostels Look Beyond Millennials to Business Travelers: While every hotel brand under the sun makes moves to attract millennials, hostels are doing the very opposite. They’re growing up, getting fancy—and even catering to design-minded business travelers. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Kind Traveler, a program that links charitable donations to hotel discounts, is picking up some traction. Check out a profile of the tech over in The New York Times.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo credit: American Air's 777-300ER business class seating has fully lie -flat seats, all with aisle access. American Airlines

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