The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Week in Review

Thai-based hospitality group Minor Hotels has purchased an additional stock in NH Hotels, increasing its holding to 94%, Business Traveller reports. The purchase will enable Minor Hotels to expand in Europe, while also allowing NH Hotels to put down roots in Asia.

Icelandair has signed an agreement to buy budget airline WOW Air for nearly $18 million USD (approximately €15.9 million), Buying Business Travel notes.

According to France24, Airbnb is being sued by French hoteliers for unfair competition. The main trade group for French hotels, The Union of Trades and Industries of the Hotel Industry (UMIH) accuses the home-sharing company of “knowingly violating” certain imposed rules.

What will the election mean for business travel? Regardless of who wins or loses, a change in committee leadership means a change in governing philosophies, ultimately affecting our industry. Here are the main travel-related committees to keep an eye on.  

Birmingham Airport has unveiled a £500m master plan to increase capacity and improve the traveler experience, Buying Business Travel notes. The investment aligns with the airport’s desire to grow traffic by 40% (to 18 million passengers annually) by 2033.

Over the next 20 years, China will account for approximately 19% of the world’s aircraft demand, Business Traveller reports. According to Airbus’ Global Market Forecast, the country is projected to require nearly 7,400 new passenger and freighter aircraft.

Star Alliance is putting virtual reality technology to the test in select lounges, Business Traveller writes. Travelers flying through CDG in Paris and FCO in Rome can try out the virtual reality systems, which may eventually be offered on planes and across lounges globally.

The TSA will begin testing new technology that can screen multiple passengers from up to 25 feet away, Los Angeles Times reports. If the terahertz screening devices pass the initial tests at a TSA facility, they may be further tested at U.S. airports.  

According to IATA’s latest 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast, air traffic could double to 8.2 billion travelers in 2037. The forecast also outlines China, the United States, India, Indonesia and Thailand as the fastest growing aviation markets.

A no-deal Brexit would result in 5 million fewer outbound trips made globally by 2022, Travel Weekly reports. These findings come from a new study by Euromonitor International. They also claim Spain will see the brunt of this, since UK travelers account for nearly 21% of inbound revenues in the country.

Following in Lyft’s footsteps, ride-sharing company Uber has launched a Ride Pass subscription option in select cities, Business Traveller notes.

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport received a new 2.5 million square-foot parking and car rental facility on Wednesday, ABC7 reports. The $242 million facility features 13 car rental agencies, 12 electronic charging stations and “innovative parking guidance technology”.

Week in Review

Airlines aren’t the only ones facing complications recently, with HEI Hotels & Resorts announcing a malware attack lasting more than a year on 20 of its properties. According to Skift, customer payment card data from tens of thousands of transactions may have been exposed, though it is difficult to estimate the total number of customers affected by the data breach.

Hotels are beginning to move away from full-service properties and towards select-service rooms to reflect consumer desires. Skift reports a shift in what consumers want, noting that guests prefer basic amenities like Wi-Fi and gyms, as opposed to 24-hour front desk service, spas and full-service restaurants. USA TODAY shares certain companies are also experimenting with keyless entry technology that enables guests to bypass the front desk and access their rooms using smartphones. With business travelers embracing self-service personalized travel options more than ever, now is the perfect time to introduce new technologies.

Following the technical glitches Delta and Southwest faced in the past month, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote to the leaders of 13 U.S. airlines, expressing their concern for airlines’ IT systems. The senators expect the airlines to reply and address the IT policy and procedure questions outlined in the letters, shares Skift.

Aside from system outages, members of the aviation industry are concerned with keeping threats from cyberterrorists and hackers at bay. According to Tnooz, industry leaders recently gathered at IATA’s Annual General Meeting in Dublin to discuss various ways to maintain security in the ever-changing, risk-laden world we live in.

Los Angeles Times reports a 12% drop in complaints against U.S. based airlines in the first half of 2016, due to a decline in fares, cancellations and delays. Airline industry representatives claim the drop is a result of investments in products, services and amenities that travelers want and expect, like new planes and upgraded lounges.

Cathay Pacific and Dragonair recently increased the baggage weight allowance by 10kg for travelers in all classes. Buying Business Travel states the revised system will come into effect mid-September. Delta is also undergoing changes, with the addition of a new service from Boston to San Francisco and Nashville. Travel Daily News details the expansion of its existing service as well. In addition to a change in flight schedule, Delta is introducing business class suites with doors. According to USA TODAY, Delta will be the world’s first airline to have an all-suite business cabin with a door for each suite.

The same outlet reports news of a slimmed-down menu for trans-Atlantic British Airways routes. Passengers in economy are offered a choice between a small chocolate bar and another snack, as opposed to the usual second meal before arrival. China is considering easing restrictions on in-flight mobile phone usage. According to Bloomberg, legislation to amend regulations limiting in-flight use of mobile phones and other electronic devices is underway.

Travel Daily News reports Brussels Airport welcomed a whopping 2.4 million passengers in July, making it the second busiest July in history. Indonesia’s capital Jakarta just opened a $560 million airport terminal, shares USA TODAY. At more than 250 million people, Indonesia is one of the world’s fastest growing travel markets.

Uber’s first self-driving fleet supervised by humans in the driver’s seat is set to arrive in Pittsburgh this month. According to Bloomberg, customers will be able to hail the custom Volvo XC90s using their smartphones.

Check back every Friday for a round-up of the week's top business travel news all in one place on the GBTA Blog.  

GBTA Says Proposal to Slash Carry-on Baggage Size Must Be “Permanently Scrapped"

Yesterday, we announced that we were pleased IATA put on hold its proposal to reduce the size of carry-on baggage by 20 percent. After polling our Members we now believe the proposal should be entirely scrapped. We released the statement below this morning that includes our polling data along with a comment from Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.

New Poll Shows Overwhelming Opposition

Three-quarters (74 percent) of travel managers oppose IATA’s recently recommended guidelines that standard carry-on baggage sizes be reduced to dimensions about 20 percent smaller than what most major airlines currently allow according to a poll of travel managers conducted by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association.

Wednesday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) put this recommendation on hold and now GBTA believes it should scrap the proposal entirely.

“This new data demonstrates overwhelming opposition to the IATA proposal from business travelers, and the proposal should be permanently scrapped, once and for all.  If enacted, this proposal gives business travelers the option to buy a new bag or pay for checked luggage – either way there is yet another added fee,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. “This clearly struck a chord as it goes beyond the issue of just decreasing the size of carry-on baggage, it is symbolic of the constant cost pressure the airlines are putting on the business traveler.”

In a press conference on Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) railed against the proposal saying it will not only put a dent in family’s wallets, but will also hurt business travelers. GBTA Members agree with the Senator as 64 percent of travel managers say the new guidelines would dramatically impact their business travelers and an additional 31 percent say their travelers would be somewhat impacted.

“I am pleased that the International Air Transport Association has heeded the call and plans to reassess its proposal, which could shrink a traveler’s carry-on luggage by more than twenty percent,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “Many travelers have had their go-to bag for years, and this policy could have forced passengers to purchase new luggage or instead pay extra to check their luggage. It is good news that this plan has been stalled, and I will continue to press the airline industry to ensure that proposals that could hurt consumers never get off the ground.”

This survey of travel buyers living in the United States and Canada was conducted online between June 17-18, 2015. In total, 292 individuals were invited to participate in this study via email with 78 responses for a response rate of 27 percent.

Week in Review

The industry reacted swiftly and loudly this week after IATA introduced a proposal that standard carry-on baggage sizes be reduced to dimensions about 20 percent smaller than what most major airlines currently allow. IATA put the proposal on hold after much opposition including New York Senator Chuck Schumer who came out against the proposal saying it would put a dent in family’s wallets and hurt business travelers. In a GBTA Foundation poll, GBTA Members agreed and while GBTA was happy to see IATA put the proposal on hold, we believe the proposal should be scrapped entirely.

In other airline news, USA Today reports that Europe's biggest airlines are pushing for new rules that would blunt the impact of strikes, reduce taxes and bring in aviation rules patterned after those in the United States. Also, in USA Today, two big U.S. airlines are bunching flights at their hubs in an attempt to tighten connections and raise revenue. This could help add more connecting options, but does it also up the risk for flight delays?

Location-based targeting is becoming increasingly more attractive to marketers in today's digital world. Hotel Marketing says the travel sector may be best-suited to leveraging specific geofencing tactics to snatch up consumers in nearby vicinities looking for last-minute activities or accommodations.

The Hill reports on news on Capitol Hill saying a House Democrat is introducing legislation to ban guns in airport areas that are located before security checkpoints. S

kift reports on three ways the Internet of Things - the popular buzzword that came out of the SITA Air Transport IT Summit (ATIS) in Brussels this week - will change flying and make it less of a hassle. Think finding your way easier, knowing exactly where your stuff is and transforming bookings with "smart retail".

Finally, check out this list from Small Business Trends filled with savvy tips for smart business travel.

GBTA Pleased IATA “Hit the Pause Button” on Proposal to Reduce Carry-on Baggage Dimensions by 20 Percent

As many of you heard, yesterday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an airline industry association, put on hold on its recommendation that standard carry-on baggage sizes be reduced to dimensions about 20 percent smaller than what most major airlines currently allow — to 22 inches tall, 13 1/2 inches wide and 7 1/2 inches deep. GBTA issued the following statement in response:  

“GBTA is pleased IATA hit the pause button on its recommendation to reduce carry-on baggage dimensions by 20 percent. This is clearly the right call. This proposal, if adopted by air carriers, would increase costs and pose headaches for business travelers who want to avoid the delays and time lost associated with checking baggage.

GBTA also commends Senator Chuck Schumer of New York for standing up for business travelers. In the coming days and weeks, GBTA will survey its membership on this issue, and provide feedback to both IATA and Senator Schumer.”