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Week in Review

Marriott International and Starwood have completed a $13 billion merger as of today, Buying Business Travel reports, making the new hotel company the owner of 30 hotel brands. Skift notes Marriott International is now the world’s largest hotel operator and plans to prioritize combining the Marriott and Starwood loyalty programs.

According to Skift, Google has announced a new mobile app that integrates with Gmail to source reservations and travel recommendations. The Google Trips app is able to collect past and upcoming flight, hotel, car rental and restaurant reservations from users’ Gmail accounts to offer personalized recommendations. The same outlet reports The Standard has launched a same-day booking app strictly for independent hotels. The app will enable guests to make last-minute bookings at The Standard Hotels and at least 16 other independent hoteliers.

USA TODAY notes seven of the nation’s busiest airports experienced delays on Monday as a result of a storm. Northeast fliers in the U.S. faced slowed flights and delays throughout the day to due to thunderstorms, heavy rain and poor visibility in the region. The same source reports Phoenix is expected to see flight delays in early October, due to a runway closure at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. One of the airport’s three runways will be undergoing construction for a month, squeezing the airport’s nearly 1,200 daily takeoffs and landings onto two runways.

A pilot of a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane accidentally pressed the hijack warning button on Tuesday, finds Bloomberg. After pressing the button, one of the pilots verbally confirmed the distress call with the airport tower, rather than immediately reporting the call as a mistake. The control tower was informed of the mistake after the plane was parked, but authorities are still treating the incident as a crisis.

According to Skift, JetBlue is considering investing in larger planes, as it evaluates flying to Europe. The larger aircraft have more range and would enable the airline to fly to more destinations in both Europe and South America. Travel Daily News reports Qatar Airways is expected to increase its capacity to Brazil and Argentina by 40 percent. The airline will be upgrading its existing aircraft to accommodate an additional 99 seats per day from Doha to Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.

Following last week’s news of Emirates imposing ancillary fees for advanced seat selection, a new study finds global airlines generated $40.5 billion in ancillary fees and charges in 2015. TIME reports United Airlines generated the most ancillary revenue with $6.2 billion in fees, followed by American in second and Delta in third.

Although the TSA has boasted shorter security lines this summer, Skift reports long security lines could return in October without better government funding. Many of the staff hired to handle security lines this past year may be cut if Congress doesn’t agree on a budget by the beginning of the 2017 fiscal year. GBTA’s Shane Downey also weighed in on the issue, noting long-term solutions and predictable funding over a five-year stretch are necessary.

According to Skift, a recent report from GBTA in partnership with AIG Travel investigated finds evacuation of business travelers in trouble is a top priority for employers. The report also finds a majority (53 percent) of companies provide both travel insurance and assistance services to their business travelers. Another study from GBTA finds average compensation for U.S. travel buyers saw a moderate 1.8 percent year-over-year increase in 2016 reaching $114,000. Despite a modest increase, 73 percent of travel buyers report being satisfied with their compensation.

This week’s list is from Skift:

3 Charts Showing Google Search’s Impact on Travel Brands in 2016