Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at wheelchair users on planes, Amex GBT’s China optimism, and new family-friendly hotel rooms.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
Listen to the day’s top travel stories in under four minutes every weekday.
Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, August 12 in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg asserted recently that wheelchair users shouldn’t have to give up their mobility devices upon boarding planes, unlike buses or trains. So the U.S. Department of Transportation is developing a plan that could allow such passengers to stay in their own chairs during flights, reports Contributor Ted Reed.
Although Buttigieg acknowledged that any changes in policy wouldn’t happen quickly, he said that ensuring flyers remain in their wheelchairs is an important goal for the department. Buttigieg added that most wheelchair users have horror stories about airline experiences. Meanwhile, John Morris, founder of travel blog Wheelchair Travel, believes that keeping passengers in their wheelchairs is one of the easiest ways to ensure airlines won’t mishandle such devices.
A report by the Transportation Research Board found that while adding wheelchair space to plans was feasible, more testing was needed to determine how wheelchairs could satisfy the Federal Aviation Administration’s safety requirements.
Next, American Express Global Business Travel is confident about making progress in its recovery. The world’s largest corporate travel agency cites China’s possible reopening as a major reason for its optimism, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.
Amex GBT reported during its second quarter earnings call on Thursday that its corporate travel transactions only hit 76 percent of pre-Covid metrics. But CEO Paul Abbott said the company would get a major boost from China reopening. The world’s most populous country represents 5 percent of its sales for international travel. Abbott was also buoyed by Amex GBT landing investment company JP Morgan as a client.
But despite recording a more than 200 percent year-over-year increase in revenue, Amex GBT reported a net loss of $2 million during the second quarter.
Finally, parents have often complained about hotel rooms lacking enough space for their families. But Contributor Carley Thornell reports they have more options now as hotels are building bigger suites to attract families, a lucrative market.
Thornell cites the Hoxton as one brand that’s seen an extensive redesign of its rooms pay dividends. Its Barcelona property features two new room categories that provide guests more space and amenities than the hotel’s previously largest categories. Rob Andrews, the Hoxton’s chief operating officer, said the more spacious rooms — which include a dining room — are popular with travelers because they’re convenient for longer stays. Andrews added the brand is learning toward including bigger suites at new properties in its pipeline.
However, redesigning rooms also represents a major expense for hotels, Thornell notes. One hotel manager said his cleaning staff spends on average three hours working on a suite compared to roughly 40 minutes on a standard leisure room.