In the never-ending battle for market share among what it calls “global mega-travelers,” Starwood Hotels & Resorts is rolling out a new roster of benefits for the top members of its Preferred Guest rewards plan.
Air Travel News
In a progress report on the expansion of Economy Plus seating, which offers more legroom in coach, United/Continental said it has finished installing the amenity in one segment of its international fleet.
In U.S. airline news, United Continental Holdings’ latest route announcements include a potential plum for Mileage Plus members; Delta is rumored to be weighing an acquisition of US Airways; Southwest jumps another hurdle on the road to its AirTran merger; and Alaska brings hometown coffee to its passengers.
In its year-end report on worldwide airline passenger traffic, the International Air Transport Association said that increasing demand for air travel had put the industry back onto its earlier “long-term growth trends” after a few years of dismal results due to the worldwide recession.
IATA said that the total passenger market for both international and domestic airline travel during 2011 posted a gain of 5.9 percent from 2010 levels. The industry increased its passenger capacity during the year by 6.3 percent from 2010, driving the average load factor (percentage of seats filled) down fractionally to 78.1 percent.
At least one major U.S. airline has confirmed speculation that it might seek to acquire AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines that is currently operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The Transportation Security Administration has announced the next round of airport deployments for its recently purchased millimeter wave Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) devices, naming 25 facilities that will get the equipment “in the coming weeks.”
The Transportation Security Administration has expanded the testing of its PreCheck trusted traveler program to a seventh airport.
TSA said the PreCheck expedited security clearance option is now available at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Delta Air Lines SkyMiles members who have signed on as participants in the test program are now eligible to be selected for the faster screening procedure at MSP.
JetBlue Airways has been inking a string of partnership deals with other airlines over the past couple of years, and its latest one will give customers an interline route to the 50th state.
JetBlue’s new partnership is with Hawaiian Airlines. In its first phase, it will allow connections between the two airlines at Los Angeles International Airport. But it will expand on June 5, when Hawaiian is slated to begin the only non-stop flights from JetBlue’s home base at New York JFK to Honolulu.
In international airline news, Lufthansa has expanded its private jet option to North America; American adds a new European route from Miami; All Nippon Airways kicks off its first long-haul 787 Dreamliner route; and JAL unveils route plans for its first 787s.
Hyatt Hotels has finished consolidating its extended-stay properties under a single new brand, and has standardized services and amenities at all of them, the company said.
The new brand is Hyatt House, which now encompasses 38 former Hyatt Summerfield Suites hotels as well as 15 recently acquired Hotel Sierra locations, Hyatt said. The 53 Hyatt House locations are in 16 states.