What to Know Now

Free food is officially coming back to the economy cabin, though it’s only going to be on select Delta transcontinental flights for now. The changes come as airlines ratchet up competition on cross-country flights and start to finally compete once more on service and soft product.

Already the industry has seen broad improvements to in-flight and airport lounge catering while some airlines have gone so far as to hire celebrity chefs and wine gurus to guide their menus. As tastes and standards improve, the next battleground is apparently in the back of the plane — as long as it’s not in basic economy.

New food options start rolling out on March 1 and will primarily be served on routes between New York and California. Later in the year, Delta plans to open up free meals to a broader spectrum of coastal cities and American and United will, no doubt, quickly follow suit.

SOCIAL QUOTE OF THE DAY

I would guess that the other major carriers will follow suit on competitive routes. I’m not sure that DL will have a competitive advantage for long.

– formeraa @ Flyertalk

Airlines

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Air Canada Wants to Fly More U.S. Travelers Through Canada and Overseas: When it comes to maintaining domestic air superiority, U.S. carriers have been shaking their fists at Persian Gulf airlines that have rapidly increased their American presence. Yet there’s another threat that may be growing in their backyard — or more precisely, just north of it. Read more at Skift

Air Canada and United May Try Again for U.S.-Canada Anti-Trust Immunity: Roughly five years after their last attempt, Air Canada and United Airlines may reapply for anti-trust immunity for trans-border routes, a move that could allow the two carriers to collude on pricing and schedules while sharing revenues, Air Canada’s president said in an interview. Read more at Skift

US Customs border crossing

Airports

U.S. Customs Officials Are Searching Travelers’ Electronic Media at Border: Watchdog groups that keep tabs on digital privacy rights are concerned that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents are searching the phones and other digital devices of international travelers at border checkpoints in U.S. airports. Read more at Skift

Philippines Considers New Airports to Improve Manila Hub: The Philippine government is considering adding airports to serve the capital Manila and nearby areas, including a sprawling airport city complex that could handle 100 million passengers a year, officials said Wednesday. Read more at Skift

New York and New Jersey Back $32 Billion Investment for Airports and Transit Systems: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has approved a $32.2 billion capital plan that commits financing for a new Hudson River train tunnel and funds planning for a new bus terminal in Manhattan. Read more at Skift

Muslim-American Travelers Are Quietly Having Global Entry Privileges Revoked: As the Trump administration gears up to issue a new executive order regulating international travel following the legal challenge to its initial travel restrictions, some Muslim travelers outside the seven countries targeted by the ban, including naturalized U.S. citizens and green card holders, are indicating that their Global Entry status has been revoked. Read more at Skift

Tech

Elon Musk Wants to Invest in Underground Transit: Elon Musk wants to dig tunnels. Without them, he says, “we will all be in traffic hell forever.” It’s a well-timed ambition, given President Trump’s plan to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure projects. Let’s hope he can figure out what he’s doing. Read more at Skift

Choice Hotels Mulls Options for a Tech Division That Struggled to Break Even: Choice Hotels, the hotel franchisor, has had a sick subsidiary on its hands for a couple of years. But on Thursday, it said the patient is stabilized. Read more at Skift

Airlines Phasing Out Screens Because You Are All on Your Devices: Those seat-back screens that have long been part of in-flight entertainment systems are preparing to depart from many airplanes, experts say, and will gradually be replaced by content streamed to passengers’ electronic devices through improved wireless service. Read more at The New York Times

Dubai to Test Drone Taxis for Travelers: Up, up, and away: Dubai hopes to have a passenger-carrying drone regularly buzzing through the skyline of this futuristic city-state in July. Read more at Skift

Hotels

Hyatt Can’t Wait to Expand New Wellness Brand Miraval: Less than a month after announcing its acquisition of three wellness resorts located in Texas, Arizona, and Massachusetts, as well as a new spa brand, Hyatt is looking for similar opportunities as “guest tastes and preferences evolve,” the company’s CEO, Mark Hoplamazian, told analysts on Thursday. Read more at Skift

Marriott CEO Says U.S. Travel Ban Financial Impact Is Minor, But May Deter Groups: Marriott International hasn’t seen a major impact on its hotels from the recent U.S. travel ban, but the real threat to the U.S. hotel business could come from a shift in perspective in the eyes of international travelers, especially groups. Read more at Skift

Airbnb Acquires Vacation Rental Company Luxury Retreats, Officially Moves Into Luxury: As expected, Airbnb acquired Montreal-based Luxury Retreats International in an effort to help it expand in high-end vacation rentals and travel services, it announced today. This follows earlier reports on talks between the two companies. Read more at Skift

Hilton CEO: Spinoffs Have Freed Us Up for Organic Growth, More Direct Bookings: Now that the company has successfully spun off its timeshare and real estate investment trust businesses, the “new Hilton,” as CEO Christopher Nassetta referred to during the call, can be even more aggressive in pursuing the company’s strategy going forward. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Abbie Kozolchyk has a new book out called The World’s Most Romantic Destinations. Find it published by National Geographic here.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo Credit: Delta is bringing free food back on some U.S. domestic flights. Delta Air Lines