What to Know Now
We are impressed that we just made it through a weekend without some social media-fueled airline outrage. From dragged passengers to weaponized strollers to dead giant rabbits, it’s been an interesting few weeks.
But last week ended on two notes that, while they may have been informed by the outrages, weren’t about PR-friendly responses to problems. The first was American Airlines’ move to give some of its employees raises outside of the normal labor negotiation period. CEO Doug Parker told investors and analysts that the move “might surprise and even dismay some of you because it adds costs to our airline,” but employees, and the passengers who will encounter much better compensated employees, will be happy.
Over at Spirit, CEO Bob Fornaro admitted that his airline has long been synonymous with both cheap airfares and a totally crap passenger experience. He promised on his company’s first quarter earnings call that “friendly service” is coming soon.
We’ll believe it when we see it. Actually, someone will have to tell us about it because we try to avoid Spirit at all costs.
Social Quote of the Day
15-hour flight. No recline & next to the toilet. Booked months ago. For this, we pay our corporate travel agent a $75 booking fee.
Alaska Air Focuses on Customer Experience and Loyalty as it Integrates Virgin America: It’s good to see Alaska still placing a major emphasis on customer satisfaction after its Virgin America acquisition. Read more at Skift
Flyers Shouldn’t Expect $10,000 When Bumped From a United Airlines Flight: If you’re suddenly hatching schemes to snare ten large by purchasing a ticket on a peak Monday morning or Friday night flight, you may want to hold off. There is no “$10,000 jackpot” at the airport waiting to be hit. Not really. Read more at Skift
United Ends Cooperation Agreements With 5 Middle East Airlines: United Airlines is canceling basic cooperation agreements with five Middle East airlines, including Qatar Airways and Emirates Airline, as the Chicago-based carrier continues to complain that the largest airlines in the region compete unfairly by taking massive government subsidies. Read more at Skift
Freddie Awards Pick the Year’s Best Traveler Loyalty Programs: In the poll, 4.2 million frequent travelers worldwide ranked loyalty programs. The poll comes just as a few U.S. major airlines have overhauled their frequent flyer rewards. We were curious at the results: Would the move from a miles-flown to a revenue-based model make the legacy players less popular. The short answer, it turns out, is no. Read more at Skift
The Paparazzi-Proof Airline Terminal: The new Private Suite at LAX offers a high-end, backdoor way for VIP travelers to get onto and off of commercial flights. Read more at The Wall Street Journal
The 5 Most Ridiculous Items Passengers Wanted to Carry On in April: Every week, the TSA blogs about items (mostly weapons) that agents have confiscated at airports around the country, and the agency posts some of the crazier ones on its Instagram page. Read more at The Points Guy
Lyft Is Beating Its Financial Goals But Faces Long Road to Profitability: Lyft Inc.’s bookings and ridership surged in the first quarter, suggesting the company benefited from user defections and management turmoil at larger rival Uber Technologies Inc. Read more at Skift
Emirates CEO Still Perplexed at U.S. Laptop Ban: The chairman and CEO of Dubai’s long-haul carrier Emirates said Tuesday he “can’t dig into somebody’s mind” to understand why the U.S. instituted a ban on laptops and other personal electronics in carry-on luggage from 10 cities in Muslim-majority countries. Read more at Skift
Amadeus Tests Virtual Reality as a Travel Booking Option: Navitaire, a reservation system for low-cost carriers that travel technology giant Amadeus acquired in 2015, is debuting a “proof-of-concept” of how travel searching and booking could work using virtual reality headsets. Read more at Skift
Airbnb Debuts Business Travel Search Tool: Since debuting in 2008, Airbnb Inc. has marketed itself to adventurous vacationers looking for unique and cheap accommodations. Next week, the San Francisco-based travel upstart will get a bit more buttoned up. Read more at Skift
Hilton Launches Points Pooling for Its Honors Loyalty Program: Hilton, which overhauled its Honors Loyalty Program earlier this year, launched a new tool for members to share points this week. Called Points Pooling, the program allows up to 11 members of the program to pool points into one account, potentially making it easier to book high-ticket items like free award nights or swanky Hilton Experiences. Read more at Skift
Wyndham Is Finally Harnessing Its Global Scale Via Loyalty: Wyndham Worldwide’s first quarter earnings were, as CEO Stephen P. Holmes noted, “right in line with our expectations” and those expectations support a major strategy designed to synergize all three of the company’s businesses: hotels, timeshares, and vacation rentals. Read more at Skift
Starwood Founder Launches New Extended Stay Brand Uptown Suites: The select-service, extended stay portion of the hospitality industry is getting a new brand from the founder and creator behind W Hotels and, most recently, luxury eco-boutique brand 1 Hotels. Read more at Skift