What to Know Now

Details on American’s 2017 AAdvantage program went public this week through a mixture of prepared releases and uncontrolled leaks.

On balance, the news is mixed. Following in the steps of United, American is making its top “secret” revenue-only program Concierge Key a bit more formal, giving it upgrade priority and a few other benefits over Executive Platinum, the currently published top tier. AAdvantage is also adding companion upgrade perks as well as award ticket upgrade benefits.

The bad news is that current Executive Platinum members are going to start losing some benefits to some superseding Concierge Key members while upgrade availability in general may be about to get dicier.

Overall, AAdvantage members could have fared far worse. Now, it’s time to see how the program fares in the battlefield.

Social Quote of the Day

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Kinda disappointed with the @AmericanAir AAdvantage changes so far. EQD, downgrading Platinum, and no Citi AA considerations. Oh well.

– @gallifreyan | Robert Novak, Technologist and Whovian since 1983

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Airlines

U.S. Airlines to Trump: Block Rivals and Privatize Air Traffic Control: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, a hotelier and former airline executive, has said plenty about immigrants, borders, and free trade. But he hasn’t said much about the multibillion-dollar aviation industry. This huge segment of the American economy has some priorities and complaints that have gone essentially nowhere during the Obama administration, due in part to political gridlock. Read more at Skift

American Airlines Reveals New AAdvantage Perks, Acknowledges Existence of Secretive Elite Tier: American Airlines is about to officially transition to its revenue-based loyalty program, and as January 1 approaches, the airline is releasing more details on how it works. Read more at Skift

Airlines Say Sabre Reservations System Glitch Cause Delayed, Cancelled Flights: Airlines are dealing with another computer outage that is disrupting flight schedules heading into the weekend. Read more at Skift

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Airports

American, Not Delta, Will Receive Last Available U.S.-China Route: Dealing a blow to Delta Air Lines, which also wanted the route, the U.S. government said tentatively on Monday it will permit American Airlines to begin new flights from Los Angeles to Beijing. Read more at Skift

New U.S. Airport Rankings Find Phoenix the Best and New York the Worst: New data aggregated by The Points Guy (TPG) may suggest the best airports to fly through next year. Phoenix, Portland, and San Diego were the top three, while all three of New York’s airports took the bottom slots. Read more at Skift

Gulf Airlines Look for Lounge Expansion in Frankfurt, Further Squeezing Lufthansa: Emirates and the Persian Gulf’s two other major airlines are likely to get pride of place at Frankfurt airport’s new terminal, allowing them to offer bigger premium-class lounges to compete more aggressively with local rival Deutsche Lufthansa AG. Read more at Skift

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Tech

American Dumps Gogo Wi-Fi on 500 Planes for Speedy ViaSat Alternative: Dealing a blow to Gogo, the U.S. in-flight Wi-Fi market leader for nearly a decade, American Airlines is switching more than 500 domestic aircraft to ViaSat, the same company that provides speedy, streaming-capable Internet for JetBlue Airways. Read more at Skift

Cold in Your Hotel Room? By Voice or Tablet, You Can Change That: Need to dial down the thermostat in the middle of the night? Want to open the curtains at daybreak? How about turning out the hall light at bedtime? These are some of the tasks that no longer require you to get out of bed in the new generation of automated hotel rooms. Read more at The New York Times

Online Hotel Booking and the Death of ‘No Vacancy’ Signs: The “(No) Vacancy” sign, a beacon of hospitality and/or disappointment, has greeted road-weary American travelers for generations. But just as paper maps and toll booth clerks increasingly seem quaint relics of the analog age, the classic “(No) Vacancy” sign may soon become another victim of shifting travel habits and market forces. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

How Marriott’s Doing Things Differently and Digitally in China: No one in the travel or hospitality industries wants to miss out on the incredible billion-dollar opportunity that is the gigantic Chinese travel market, and Marriott International is no exception. Read more at Skift

Trump’s Team Is Already Lying About the Hotels President-Elect Trump Owns: President-elect Donald Trump’s transition website, created this week, laid out some bold plans — and some errors. Read more at Skift

Marriott CEO’s Open Letter To President-Elect Trump: From one hotelier to another, one leader to another, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson has delivered a message we certainly hope Donald Trump will not only take to heart, but really act upon as the next President of the United States. Read more at Skift

Dissecting the Future of the Newly Combined Marriott and Starwood: Just how does Marriott intend to proceed now that it owns Starwood Hotels & Resorts and has 1.6 million guest rooms spread out over 30 hotel brands worldwide? And now that it’s considered the world’s largest hotel company, with a much larger global, more international presence than ever before? Read more at Skift

Your Turn

A letter to the U.S. from John Cleese in light of last week’s events.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo Credit: American's AAdvantage Citibank credit card. The AAdvantage loyalty program is in the process of evolving. American Airlines.