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The puzzle pieces are all starting to come together for Alaska Air Group and Virgin America. Last week the two carriers finalized their union, launched DifferentWorks, a merger landing page, and unveiled a custom 737 with joint branding before a packed event at SFO.
Like in the Marriott-Starwood merger, the carriers’ first move was to sync rewards programs and retain loyalty. Starting today, members of Elevate and Mileage Plan can earn miles on Alaska and Virgin America respectively; next year, that relationship will expand to award tickets, while the carriers also just announced a conversion ratio when transferring points across accounts.
The carriers are still mum on what the joint product will look like, but according to Skift’s Brian Sumers, those changes may come slowly. In the meantime, enjoy those fancy cabins and in-flight entertainment.
SOCIAL QUOTE OF THE DAY
The Alaska “More to Love” plane sat grounded with new livery for a month+. Yet it still has the old seat configuration. ? #DifferentWorks
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Lufthansa Will Finally Complete Its Acquisition of Brussels Airlines: Lufthansa says it will buy the remaining 55 percent stake in Brussels Airlines it doesn’t already own, and integrate the Belgian carrier into its Eurowings subsidiary. Read more at Skift
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British Airways’ Cabin Crew Strike Could Impact Holiday Travel Plans: British Airways flight attendants voted to take industrial action over the Christmas and New Year travel season, threatening what would be the carrier’s first major walkout in six years. Read more at Skift
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Dubai Plans to Spend Big While Making Its Second Airport the World’s Largest: Dubai aims to spend $35.7 billion to develop its second airport and logistics hub in the south of the city and is likely to rely on debt for a significant part of the financing. Read more at Skift
New York LaGuardia Is North America’s Least Favorite Airport: America’s most-hated big-city airport is New York LaGuardia — and it’s not even close. Read more at Skift
Wynn Las Vegas Bets Big on Amazon Echo and Voice-Activated Rooms: Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, as well as the highest paid hotel CEO of 2015, is making a huge bet that guests will want to control their hotel rooms with the help of the Amazon Echo, an artificial intelligence-powered smart speaker. Read more at Skift
Contrarian Flight App Hopper Attracts $61 Million in Series C Financing: Consider the $61 million bet that investors have made this year in app-only flight-booker Hopper, a nine-year-old “startup” that appears to be finally finding its footing. Read more at Skift
More Hotels Are Planning to Use Location-Based Services to Interact With Guests: Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of all hotels and resorts in a recent survey said they plan to implement location-based technologies within the next year, similar to how Hilton and Marriott have done so previously. Read more at Skift
La Quinta’s New Loyalty Play Foreshadows a Major Relaunch in 2017: La Quinta Inns & Suites will be relaunching its La Quinta Returns loyalty program in early 2017, CEO Keith Cline told Skift. And as a precursor to that relaunch, the hotel company added a brand-new feature: the ability for members to redeem their La Quinta loyalty points for everyday purchases on things like groceries, restaurants, or even coffee. Read more at Skift
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How the Concierge Endures in an Internet World: According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the share of luxury hotels that employ concierges fell to 82 percent from nearly 100 percent between 2014 and 2016, with many concierges taking on duties that require them to abandon their once stationary posts. Read more at The New York Times
U.S. Government Says Trump Must Divest Hotel in Washington, D.C.: The government says Donald Trump must divest all financial interests in his splashy new Washington hotel or be in breach of his lease the moment he becomes president next month, House Democrats said Wednesday. Read more at Skift
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Can be sent to gm[at]skift[dot]com or to @grantkmartin