What to Know Now

Middle East travel was thrown into disarray early last week when the U.S. and UK suddenly announced a broad electronics ban on direct flights from the region. Affecting only Middle Eastern carriers into North America (no U.S. carrier offers direct service to the area), the ban went into place on Friday and covered all electronics larger than a smartphone carried into the cabin — effectively forcing travelers to check laptops and tablets into the cargo hold.

Few details have been released about the reason for the ban, but in the meantime, airlines are doing their best to cope with the changes, from helping box up electronics at airport gates to using the opportunity to talk up their in-flight entertainment.

There’s no word on how long the ban will last, but one thing is very clear: The current situation is not tenable.

Social Quote of the Day

UK updating #ElectronicsBan to now include peripherals — batteries, power cables, etc. Also includes phone power bricks? #PaxEx

@thatjohn | John Walton, Airline & aviation journalist with @RunwayGirl

Boom Technologies supersonic

Airlines

Boom Tech Raises $33 Million for Supersonic Jet: The investment is enough for the company to create its first supersonic jet test craft, the XB-1. Read more at Skift

Alaska Airlines To Drop Virgin America Brand by 2019: Alaska Airlines said Wednesday it expects to retire Virgin America’s brand sometime in 2019, a decision that may disappoint the upstart carrier’s loyal customers, but one that will surprise few industry insiders. Read more at Skift

American Airlines May Be Close to Buying Stake in China Southern: American Airlines Group Inc., the world’s largest carrier, is in advanced talks to acquire a stake in China Southern Airlines Co., according to people familiar with the matter. Read more at Skift

Airports

United Is Expanding Upgraded Screening Lanes at Newark Airport: Advanced screening lanes at security checkpoints have been around for years at airports such as London Heathrow, but only recently have they started expanding into the United States — largely driven by the airlines themselves. Read more at Skift

European Airports May Ease Restrictions on Carry-on Liquids: While travelers face the prospect of being forced to check laptops and tablet computers, another airline security hassle might get eased. Read more at Skift

U.S. Airlines Push Back Against Proposed TSA Fee Hike: A representative from the largest U.S. airline trade group criticized the Trump Administration’s proposal to increase the fee consumers pay to fund the Transportation Security Administration, arguing Congress has erred by banning the agency from using all the money it generates from its current fee. Read more at Skift

These 10 U.S. Airports Challenge Pilots Most: For a commercial airline pilot, some landings are a relative breeze — think airports with long, clear runways on flat land at sea level, with benign weather and modest traffic. We’re here to discuss the other kind. Read more at Skift

TECH

Expedia Has a New Tool to Help Hoteliers Use Reviews to Improve Service: Called Guest Review Insights, the tool has just debuted in Expedia Partner Central, the company’s extranet for hoteliers, which aggregates English-language reviews across all Expedia, Inc. brands for the past year. Read more at Skift

United Airlines in Twitter trouble over dress code rules: An obscure dress code requirement that is part of a United Airlines employee perk caused a stir on Twitter on Sunday. Read more at CNN

Marriott Pits Amazon Alexa Against Apple Siri for Voice-Controlled Hotel Rooms: Amazon.com Inc.’s battle with Apple Inc. over digital assistants is moving to a new venue: hotel rooms, where Alexa and Siri are both vying to be the voice-controlled platform of choice for travelers. Read more at Skift

Google Flights Gains Popularity Among Millennials as It Adds Booking Sites: One in 10 frequent flyers on average in North America starts their airfare shopping on Google Flights, according to a survey of nearly 2,500 frequent travelers by airline data firm OAG. Read more at Skift

Hotels

What It Was Like to Work with Boutique Hotel Pioneer Bill Kimpton: Kimpton, with his hotels, was the pioneer of developing the charming, welcoming boutique hotel. His hotels were the kinds of places where you were always invited in the lobby for an afternoon wine hour. Or where you’d pop into the restaurant regularly, just because it was your favorite local hangout. Read more at Skift

Trump Hotels’ U.S. Expansion Hampered by Ethical Concerns: You might have expected the Trump Organization to tap the brakes on expansion plans given all the criticism over potential conflicts of interest while its owner sits in the Oval Office. It’s hitting the accelerator instead. Read more at Skift

Marriott Expands Reach Into Tours and Activities With Its Latest Investment: Marriott International wants to connect its loyalty members to even more in-destination experiences, and to do that, it has made an equity investment in a tours-and-activities metasearch platform, PlacePass. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

The Skift Podcast is back with another episode on why your airplane tickets are so cheap. Check it out here.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo Credit: Dubai-based Emirates is one of the airlines impacted by the UK and U.S. electronics bans. Pictured are Emirates A380 aircraft. Emirates