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Marriott is adding new benefits to its loyalty program. (Image: Marriott)

Marriott enhances popular Rewards program

Marriott Rewards is planning to make a big announcement on Monday about new benefits and options for members — but today it offered a “sneak peek” at the news, which it is calling the Fab Four. So here are the four parts of the plan: 1 Members can book a reward stay at Marriott and […]

More airlines offering free drinks for elites (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

How to get a free drink when stuck in economy

Airlines are doing everything they can to woo their coveted elite level passengers. This week United joined the fray by offering one free drink to all Premier 1K and Global Services passengers who might suffer the indignity of flying at the back of the plane. A United spokesperson told TravelSkills, “To show appreciation for their loyalty […]

The Distillery Bar at Hilton's new London Bankside hotel. (Image: Hilton)

Shiny new hotels in: London, Munich, Taipei, India +

In overseas hotel news, Hilton adds another property in London; Starwood debuts a pair of Alofts in Germany; there’s a new Marriott in Taipei; Marriott and Shangri-La have openings in India; China gets a new Marriott; and Bogota adds a new property from Four Seasons. The newest Hilton property in London is the 292-room Hilton […]

Skurt is trying a new app-based model fro car rentals. (Image: Skurt)

This new car rental idea will disrupt

It’s not new for rental car companies to offer a car delivery or customer pick-up service, but it may involve a trip back to their office to handle the paperwork. Now a new entrant in the business is offering a no-paperwork, app-based service that lets renters go directly from the airport terminal into the driver’s […]

United Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Routes: United to Auckland, Tel Aviv + Delta to Munich, Rome + $69 to Europe?

In international route news, United announced a pair of new long-haul destinations from its San Francisco hub; Delta unveiled plans to add a pair of new Europe routes next year; and a European low-cost carrier suggests it might offer transatlantic fares as low as $69. In addition to its recently announced plans to serve X’ian, […]

Southwest's growth plans are aimed at Latin America and the Caribbean. (Image: Jim Glab)

Southwest dives deep for growth

Southwest Airlines next week will cut the ribbon not only on a new international concourse at Houston Hobby, but also on the next phase of its international growth plan — a deep dive into Latin America and the Caribbean. For most of its existence, Southwest deliberately flew only domestic routes, but that changed with its acquisition […]

Jennifer Aniston Emirates

Is Jennifer Aniston tweaking U.S. airlines?

Emirates Airline is paying actress Jennifer Aniston millions of dollars as the centerpiece of its new marketing campaign, but with the first TV commercial now out, some are wondering if the company is using her as part of a transparent attack its ongoing battle against its U.S. competition. In the new ad, Aniston dreams she’s […]

Delta Atlanta rains

Your favorite megahub?

What’s a megahub? It’s an airport that has a lot more options for flight connections than just a run-of-the-mill hub. That’s important when you’ve missed your scheduled connecting flight and need another one soon, or when your itinerary suddenly changes mid-trip. If these things matter to you, you’re lucky you live in the U.S., which […]

American's Atlanta-Washington flights will use E175s with 12 first class seats and 64 in economy. (Image: American)

Routes: AA adds ATL + New Alaska transcon + JetBlue to Nashville + More

In domestic route news, American will start a new route out of Atlanta; Alaska Airlines adds another transcontinental route; a new air carrier offers regional service from New Orleans; JetBlue brings a new city into its network; and Frontier adds new rotues. Atlanta travelers will get another option to the nation’s capital on January 5. […]

Clusters of egg chairs lend a mod feel to the temporary mezzanine club at SFO  (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

2 brand new United Clubs next month

United Airlines is set to open two brand new United Club lounges in the two airports: San Francisco International and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International. United recently revealed to TravelSkills that the two clubs will open in mid-November– with no specific opening date for either yet. The San Francisco United Club will offer 6,000 square feet of space […]

Fabulous bathrooms like this one at the Upper House in Hong Kong are a big item in hotels' growing list of improvements. (Image: Starwood)

Every day in every way hotels getting better & better

Major U.S. hotels may have delayed a number of necessary capital improvement projects during and after the Great Recession, but they’re making up for it now with record spending on renovations, upgrades and other guest-related improvements. That’s according to the latest report from hotel expert Bjorn Hanson at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality […]

Cutting up with the crew (Nelson, Charlene, Amirah, Mei Xin, Ting Ting) on Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong this week - stay tuned for a trip report!

Easier PreCheck + Free wi-fi, secret upgrades + World’s most expensive suite + Airport hotels

TravelSkills’ 10 most popular posts over the last week (descending order): 1 What? You haven’t joined yet? Joining TSA PreCheck gets easier 2 Clear as mud? TSA explains confusion over PreCheck policies 3 SFO-New Delhi: Air India’s San Francisco plans confirmed 4 Free wi-fi and secret upgrades: Surprised, delighted by Virgin America, United 5 Everything you need to know: Is Copa […]

Hilton HHonors get double Delta miles at hotels like the recently renovated Hilton Los Angeles Universal City (Image: Hilton)

Hilton offers big SkyMiles bonus

Hilton HHonors members can earn big Delta SkyMiles bonuses this fall in a new promotion. Here’s the deal: HHonors members who pick Points & Miles in their profile and specify Delta as their preferred Double Dip Points & Miles partner can earn not only double Delta miles on qualifying Hilton stays of two nights or […]

United's new website  asks customers to submit questions and ideas for improvement. (Image: United)

United Airlines’ CEO wants to hear from you [VIDEO]

When Oscar Munoz took over as United Airlines CEO a few weeks ago, he apologized for the company’s poor customer service reputation since its merger with Continental five years earlier, and he pledged to repair that tattered relationship. And now United has taken a step in that direction with the opening up of a special website […]

Aloft Hotels has new locations in Silicon Valley and lower Manhattan. (Image: Starwood)

New hotels: Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Miami, Charleston, Pittsburgh

Starwood’s Aloft brand — hotels designed with the younger generation of business travelers in mind — has just passed the 100-property mark, and two of its new hotels are in key business markets: Silicon Valley in California, and Wall Street in New York City; meanwhile, the upscale Sixty Hotels group cut the ribbon on a Miami […]

Cathay's noodle bar chef Ivy Tran serves up steaming bowl of Dan Dan noodles (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Cathay Pacific’s bigger, better lounge

On October 14, Cathay Pacific opens a major addition to its business and first class lounge at San Francisco International Airport. Cathay’s is one of SFO’s most beautiful lounges…. and also one of its busiest. The Hong Kong-based carrier invited TravelSkills out to the airport this week for a sneak peek at the new space […]

It's getting easier to join TSA's PreCheck program. (Image: TSA)

Joining TSA PreCheck gets easier

You still haven’t signed up with the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program because you just haven’t had the time to go through the processing, or because you can’t find a convenient enrollment center?  That should no longer be an excuse as new PreCheck partnerships are creating more places to sign up and longer hours when […]

Air India's San Francisco flight will go over Alaska and Russia. (Image: Google Flights)

Air India’s San Francisco plans confirmed

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced during his recent visit to Silicon Valley that national carrier Air India will begin non-stop service to San Francisco — but from New Delhi, not from India’s tech center of Bengaluru (Bangalore) as initially reported. The carrier will use a 777-200LR for the 16-hour, 7,670-mile journey. It will begin […]

Free internet on Virgin America's new A320s compliments of Netflix (Photo: Virgin America)

Surprised, delighted by Virgin America, United

Airlines are out to surprise and delight frequent travelers these days, and this week we have two more examples of how. Free wi-fi: Starting today, those lucky enough to be flying on Virgin America’s newest Airbus A320 jets will get free wi-fi compliments of Netflix. Now through mid-2016 Virgin has teamed up with Netflix to […]

Copa Airlines big business class recliners onboard 737-800s (Photo: Copa)

Is Copa Airlines right for you?

Last week, Panama’s Copa Airlines touched down in San Francisco, the carrier’s 12th U.S. destination. TravelSkills was at the airport to welcome the airline to town, and grabbed a quick interview with Fernando Fondevila Leyton, Copa’s commercial regional manager for North America who was as eager to answer our questions as we were to ask […]

Delta will add a new southeastern gateway for transatlantic service next year. (Image: Jim Glab)

Delta to Paris + Lufthansa to Florida + Beijing-Newark + BA First class

In route news, Delta will begin a new non-hub route to Paris; Lufthansa starts flying to another U.S. gateway; Air China adds a U.S. destination; Norwegian will start a pair of routes to Ireland; and British Airways upgrades its San Diego route. Delta has scheduled a May 12 start for new service linking North Carolina’s […]

Breakfast overlooking Hong Kong Harbour at the InterContinental (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Free rides + PreCheck confusion + SFO Delhi confirmed + High speed rail to ATL + More…

TravelSkills’ 10 most popular posts over the last week (descending order): 1 TSA PreCheck: Fewer free rides 2 Have you heard? InterContinental (IHG) close to big hotel merger 3  An 18-hour ride: San Francisco could get world’s longest non-stop UPDATE: Times of India reports Air India will launch 3x/week SFO-Delhi nonstops on Dec 2 4 Airport slumber party Big […]

The new Westin at Denver International opens this fall. (Image: Westin)

Big inside-the-airport hotels coming soon at DEN, JFK, SFO

If an “airport hotel” is a few miles away from the terminals, is it really an airport hotel?  Maybe so, but it can’t compare with a location right on the airport grounds, especially at large airports — like the Hilton at Chicago O’Hare, or the two Hyatts at Dallas/Ft. Worth. Not many of these have […]

Air India 777-200LR. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

San Francisco could get world’s longest non-stop

There’s no official confirmation yet, but news reports from India say that national carrier Air India might have its eye on a new route to San Francisco that would be the world’s longest non-stop. Giving credence to the reports is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to the U.S. this week, which includes a visit […]

How many travel apps do you have on your phone? (Image: Jim Glab)

Travel app usage surprisingly low

Do you use travel apps on your smartphone to book or track any elements of your travel? If so, you’re actually in the minority, according to a new survey by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation (GBTA) and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. They polled more than 500 U.S. and Canadian road warriors, and found that only […]

Chicago could soon allow ride-sharing pick-ups at airports. (Image: Jim Glab)

Uber outrage in Chicago

Just a few months ago, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was adamant about not allowing ride-sharing apps using “citizen drivers” like UberX and Lyft to be used for passenger pick-ups at O’Hare and Midway airports as well as the city’s huge McCormick Place convention center. (UberBLACK pickups/drops are currently allowed at Chicago airports.) But now he has […]

Alaska Airlines is adding an international mileage and code-share partner. (Image: Jim Glab)

New Alaska Air partner + Big American/BA bonus + Air Canada stopover

Alaska Airlines is adding a mileage/codeshare partner; American and British Airways offer bonus points/miles; and Air Canada wants you to stop over in Toronto on them. Starting November 1 (subject to government approval), Alaska and Icelandair will kick off a new wide-ranging partnership . The benefits to passengers: “seamless reservations and ticketing, one-stop check-in, baggage […]

Delta's newest TV ad features a voice-over from a famous Donald (Image: Delta)

Delta and Donald make another TV commercial

Donald Sutherland is at it again– with a smooth voice over for Delta’s latest, and perhaps darkest, TV ad titled “Take Off: Why We Go.” Dark, yes, but certainly engaging. It’s hard not to watch it until the very end. (See below for the one-minute video) Can you guess where it’s filmed? Delta has used Sutherland’s […]

TSA still allows some non-members of PreCheck to use the expedited screening lanes if they pass the "sniff test." (Image: TSA)

TSA explains confusion over PreCheck policies

A few days ago, we ran an item citing news reports which said that the Transportation Security Administration was no longer allowing passengers to be screened in the expedited PreCheck lanes if they are not members of that program, which requires a personal interview and payment of an $85 fee. That item attracted comments from […]


New routes: United to China, Delta to Brazil, Turkish to Miami…

In news of international routes, United wants to add a new China destination from San Francisco; Delta plans to add more service to Brazil from Orlando; SAS drops a key U.S. route for the energy industry; Canada’s WestJet goes transatlantic in a big way; and Miami is adding more European routes this winter. United Airlines […]

A room at The Savoy in London. (Image: Savoy Hotel)

InterContinental (IHG) close to big hotel merger

Last year, and again earlier this year, rumors were flying that U.K.-based InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) might be interested in a merger with global lodging giant Starwood Hotels. Nothing came of those rumors, but now there are new reports that IHG is on the verge of buying a luxury competitor for 1.9 billion pounds (about […]

Take pity on the tall traveler who is faced with this in economy class (Image: Eric Schmidt)

Plight of the tall traveler

Oversized travelers frequently make the news, but the over-wide version gets all the attention. Well, what about the over-tall version?  Anyone over six feet tall can probably relate to the plight of Eric Schmidt, a frequent traveler who at six feet, six inches tall, is frequently scrunched into submission on long flights. He thinks airlines should […]

Outdoor Terrace at Starwood Luxury Collection's The Gwen in Chicago. (Image: Starwood)

Shiny new hotels for you: Chicago, NYC, Dallas, Houston…

In hotel news, leading properties in Chicago and Manhattan change their identities; mid-priced hotels open in the heart of Dallas and Houston; and more independents join up as affiliates of national chains. Starwood Hotels’ Luxury Collection has added its first property in Chicago. The company has finished the previously announced conversion of the former Conrad […]

TSA's PreCheck enrollment center at Washington Dulles Airport. (Image: TSA)

TSA PreCheck: Fewer free rides

For the past few years, paid-up members of the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program of expedited screenings have been grumbling about the agency’s practice of funneling some non-members into the fast lanes — making those lanes not so fast after all. PLEASE SEE OUR UPDATE TO THIS POST! Well, you can stop grumbling. A few […]

SF is hot these days- in more ways than one (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

SF gone wild + Do not disturb + Pope + Airport knives + Best runway views

TravelSkills’ 10 most popular posts over the last week (descending order): 1 City tips: How to survive insane San Francisco this fall 2 From a hotel manager: What “Do Not Disturb” really means at hotels 3 Quid pro quo: What was in it for Smisek and United? 4 Check his schedule: Pope’s visit could be hell for travelers in NYC, […]

All long-haul Lufthansa business class cabins now have new, fully-reclining seats. (Image: Lufthansa)

Fab new interiors at Lufthansa + British Airways + Singapore Air

The latest developments in international carriers’ long-haul fleets include Lufthansa’s completion of a long-term cabin overhaul, British Airways’ re-commitment to a disappearing wide-body, and Singapore Airlines resetting of premium economy schedules. Lufthansa said it has finally finished a four-year project that it calls “the most extensive cabin renewal program in the company’s history” — an […]

Unusual room number display at Sofitel So, Bangkok (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

What “Do Not Disturb” really means at hotels

Housekeeper caught you with your pants down? It happens! But who is to blame when embarrassment ensues? There seems to be a lot of confusion about what a Do Not Disturb sign really means at a hotel. So we hit up a friend of TravelSkills who is a hotel general manager for the skinny. Here’s […]

United mainline aircraft at Chicago O'Hare. (Image: United)

United switches up schedules

Plagued by ongoing problems of late flights, United Airline plans to turn to a new domestic scheduling strategy this fall in an effort to increase its on-time performance. According to Bloomberg News, United outlined the strategy in a memo to employees. Essentially, it will mean scheduling more out-and-back trips for its mainline aircraft, instead of […]

The visit of Pope Francis is expected to disrupt travel to the northeast next week. (Image: Catholic Church of England and Wales/Flickr)

Pope’s visit could be hell for travelers in NYC, DC, Philly

If your travel schedule will take you to the northeast next week — specifically to New York, Philadelphia and/or Washington D.C. — you might want to reschedule. If you can’t, you should study the itinerary for Pope Francis’ official visit to the U.S. and try to work your schedule around his. Why? Because millions of […]