Skift Take

Loyalty members at Marriott and Starwood were in for a surprise last Friday when the hotels announced that it was possible to link the programs. Each group now has nearly double the volume of bookable hotels and partner programs with which they can use their points.

What to Know Now

The drama is finally over: Marriott and Starwood made the merger official on Friday after the Chinese finally signed off on the deal.

Surprisingly, the first order of business was to link loyalty programs, opening the floodgates to an enormous spectrum of hotel redemptions and partner benefits that millions of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest members respectively didn’t have before this Friday.

Already, some are gaming the system. After initial program links and experiments went well, some bloggers are pointing out the wealth of partner redemption options between the two operators — and points junkies are having a blast.

In the meantime, the full loyalty programs wont link until 2018, so elite status and award nights will still have to be earned separately. Either way, between now and then there should be plenty of benefits to go around.

Social Quote of the Day

Flying SFO-JFK on Virgin America is a goddam miracle of civilization and human progress

– @CaseyNewton | Casey Newton, Silicon Valley editor at The Verge



JetBlue Thinks Bigger Planes as It Considers Longer Flights: As it evaluates flying to Europe and deeper into South America, JetBlue is studying whether it should buy widebody aircraft or add a next-generation model of the single-aisle Airbus A321 it already flies, an airline executive said in an interview on Monday. Read more at Skift

United Generates More Ancillary Revenue Than Any Other Airline: United Airlines remains the world’s leader in making money unrelated to ticket sales, having nearly quadrupled its ancillary revenues since 2008, according to a new study. Read more at Skift

The Dream of a Pan-African Budget Airline Is Fading: When fastjet launched its first flights in the east African country of Tanzania in November 2012, the company’s senior management team was keen to talk up the possibilities on the continent. Read more at Skift

Source: Alaska and Virgin America may Delay Merger Close: Alaska Air Group Inc. and Virgin America Inc. have agreed to delay their merger plans to give the U.S. Department of Justice additional time to review their $2.6 billion deal, according to a person familiar with the matter. Read more at Skift



TSA Lines May Return In October Without Better Government Funding: TSA Chief Peter Neffenger conceded that many of the screening staff hired to handle this spring’s unprecedented security lines may need to be cut if congress can’t agree on a budget. Read more at Skift

How a Delayed Flight Can Work to Your Advantage: Delays and cancellations are inevitable if you travel. In these cases, it is sometimes possible to get rebooked onto a different flight, sometimes even on a different carrier. This can be majorly beneficial either if you are booked on an award ticket and get rebooked into a revenue class, or if you are booked in a revenue class on one airline, and get rebooked with a different routing on the same airline or if you get rebooked onto a different airline. Read more at Frugal Travel Guy

Brexit Isn’t Stopping UK Low-Cost Carrier Jet2 From Moving Into London’s Stansted Airport: British discount airline Jet2 will station six new Boeing Co. 737-800 jetliners at London Stansted airport, taking on Ryanair Holdings Plc in its own backyard. Read more at Skift



The Standard Launches a Same-Day Booking App for Independent Hotels: True to its reputation for doing things a bit differently, The Standard hotels group is embarking on a new endeavor not often attempted by hoteliers: it’s launching its own online distribution platform, just for independent hotels. Read more at Skift

Waze Doesn’t Want You to Get Lost When You Lose Your GPS Signal in Tunnels: The popular navigation app Waze is putting a new twist on the phrase “tunnel vision.” It’s trying to ensure drivers relying on digital maps don’t lose their way when their GPS signal disappears in tunnels. Read more at Skift

Travel Brands Are Betting on the Future of Mobile Virtual Reality: Is virtual reality the next big thing in consumer entertainment, or a flashy gimmick that will wow tech geeks and then fade away like 3DTVs or Mini-Disc players? Read more at Skift



Every One of Marriott’s 30 Hotel Brands, Explained: Now that Marriott International is on track to complete its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts on Sept. 23, the company will be formally inheriting 11 new brands to add to its existing 19. Read more at Skift

Starwood’s Hospitality Legacy After the Marriott Merger: When Starwood first appeared in the 1990s, it was unlike any other lodging company out there. It wasn’t a storied family brand like Hilton or Marriott. Instead, it was headed by a 31-year-old dealmaker named Barry Sternlicht, someone whom Bill Marriott once called “a kid with a backpack.” Funny how, 18 years later, things have changed so much. Today, Marriott is spending roughly $12 billion to buy the company started by that kid with a backpack. Read more at Skift

Next Year Is Going To Be Even Harder Than 2016 For London Hotels: Finding a hotel room in London will be easier next year because companies, worried U.K. economic growth may slow following the Brexit vote, will cut their travel budgets, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Read more at Skift

Airbnb’s Latest Investment Values It as Much as Hilton and Hyatt Combined: Airbnb, the San Francisco-based alternative accommodations platform that got its start in 2008, is worth a lot of money. About $30 billion worth according to those who have decided to invest at that valuation. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Did you catch the new Skift rebrand? Get the inside scoop on the design process here.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo credit: A promotional image for Starwood's keyless entry feature for Starwood Preferred Guests. One of the immediate benefits of its purchase by Marriott International is sharing of points across the 30 combined brands. Starwood Hotels and Resorts

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