WHAT TO KNOW NOW

Two American carriers, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, revealed more about their premium economy plans last week in what’s quickly becoming a heated competition to launch the best and the most pervasive product. American’s big reveal was unintentional, and was first when bloggers discovered that the airline will officially start operating the cabin April 2.

Delta followed three days later with design news about its own premium economy product, which like American, will only be on limited international flights. That cabin is slated for launch in late 2017.

As the date of fully operational premium economy cabins crawls closer, there’s still a broad question about how the airlines will market the products, ranging from sale price to upgrade process to IT systems. It should be a busy six months for the products, but in the end, passengers will hopefully emerge from the process with another inexpensive way to fly internationally.

SOCIAL QUOTE OF THE DAY

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Personally I think AA and DL’s hard product are on par with each other. The concept of leg rests is great, of course, but in practice, with only 38″ of pitch, the functionality is limited.

DWT @ VFTW

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AIRLINES

Air France-KLM to Take on Gulf Carriers With New Long-Haul Airline: Air France-KLM Group said it will create a new long-haul unit to fend off Gulf rivals, simplify short-haul operations, and work more closely with staff as new Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marc Janaillac seeks to put his stamp on a company riven by internal strife as its market share ebbs. Read more at Skift

Virgin America Gives Few Details About Merger Status in Latest Disclosures: Virgin America made a profit of nearly $52 million with an operating margin of 20.4 percent in what airline executives hope is the company’s last quarter as a stand-alone airline, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released Wednesday. Read more at Skift

Lufthansa Group Thinks It Has an Answer to Ryanair’s New German Incursion: For years, as low cost airlines have grown in Europe, the Lufthansa Group mostly has stuck to what it knows best — carrying business travelers and higher-end leisure customers from its four key hubs, Zurich, Vienna, Frankfurt, and Munich, to key world capitals in Europe and elsewhere. But like every other legacy airline group in Europe, Lufthansa, which owns Lufthansa Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and Swiss International Air Lines, is feeling more squeeze than ever before from discounters like Ryanair and easyJet. Read more at Skift

Airbnb Forms Loyalty Partnership with Delta Air Lines: As it has with Qantas and Virgin America, Airbnb has formed a new loyalty partnership with Delta Air Lines. Read more at Skift

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AIRPORTS

More People Will Fly This Thanksgiving, But Airlines Expect Manageable Lines: The nation’s leading airlines are confident they can handle higher Thanksgiving travel this year partly because more people have signed up for quick-screening programs that are designed to keep airport security lines moving. Read more at Skift

Hong Kong airport to cut number of flights able to take off or land overnight from summer 2017: Those living under flight path will be pleased, but the reduction from 37 to 32 flights an hour could have a knock-on effect on the city’s competitiveness. Read more at the South China Morning Post

Lufthansa’s Long Haul Network From Frankfurt is Profitable After Route Cuts: Every one of Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s 70-plus long-haul routes from Frankfurt showed a profit this summer after the carrier eliminated weaker destinations including Malaysia, Venezuela, and Oman from its network. Read more at Skift

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TECH

China’s Business Travel Spending Growth is Slowing But Still Significant: According to a forecast out this week from the Global Business Travel Association’s education and research arm, business travel spending in China is expected to grow 9.2 percent this year to nearly $318 billion. Next year, spending is forecast to increase by 8.4 percent to reach $344.6 billion. While still robust, those increases are lower than the market saw in 2015, when spending grew by 11.4 percent. Read more at Skift

Hotels Are Investing in Mobile Check-Ins and Services to Make Guests Happy: Where are hotel companies and hoteliers putting their collective focus — and money — these days? According to the most recent American Hotel & Lodging Association Lodging Survey, hotels are investing in technology. The survey of some 8,000 hotels, conducted by STR, showed hotels are making technology a priority. Read more at Skift

Yelp Gives Up on International Growth, Layoffs Probable: Yelp will greatly reduce its investment in sales and marketing efforts outside the U.S. and Canada after disappointing results have led the company to refocus on product development in North America and shift its efforts towards a more long-term approach. Read more at Skift

Google’s New Artificial Intelligence Assistant Doesn’t Know Much About Your Next Trip: When it comes to travel, Google Assistant is not yet the perfect voice-controlled travel assistant. It doesn’t offer booking capability, unlike travel agency chat hybrids like Lola, and isn’t enabled to inform you of your travel itinerary. Read more at Skift

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HOTELS

Small Companies Have Embraced Airbnb for Business Travel: For many reasons, it’s now commonplace for business travelers to experiment with shared accommodation services like Airbnb. New research from Concur shows that small companies are more likely to use Airbnb, in particular, and more likely to spend only a limited amount on the service. Read more at Skift

Marriott Wants a Big Slice of Chinese Travel Growth With New Properties Across Asia: Marriott International Inc., the world’s biggest hotel operator, is betting its future in Asia on the growth of leisure tourism, particularly from China. Read more at Skift

Every One of Hilton’s 13 Hotel Brands, Explained: When Hilton Worldwide CEO Christopher Nassetta recently threw some subtle shade at Marriott International, we couldn’t help but wonder: Are each of Hilton’s brands really so different from one another? Should some brands stay or go? Read more at Skift

YOUR TURN

Big surprise, Community and Dr. Ken’s Ken Jeong — a real life M.D. — likes to travel with miniature toiletries and cough drops. Read more on his travel habits over at 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 Airlines plans to break out its premium economy seats into its own cabin on certain international flights beginning April 2, 2017. American Airlines