April 2016 Updates
While traveling over the past 2 weeks, there have been major developments in the travel industry. Below are the highlights…
Marriott and Starwood have approved the merger to become the world’s largest hotel chain: I was hoping this day would never come since the announcement that Starwood was up for sale last November. The SPG rewards program will remain as is until 2018 so I have another 20 months of the amazing program Starwood has to offer. Stay tuned for updates from Starwood here.
Press release is available here (PDF).
Alaska Airlines has announced to acquire Virgin America: The deal values Virgin America at a ~90% premium over the current market cap which pushed shares above $55 per share after the merger was announced last week. Virgin America just launched flights to Hawaii and Denver within the last 6 months. I’m lucky I was able to attend the Honolulu launch party but with this merger means there will be no more new route launch parties for me 🙁
A specific website (http://flyingbettertogether.com) has been setup to detail out the merger which is scheduled to close by January 1st, 2017. I now have only 8 more months of flying my favorite domestic airline but Virgin America is hoping no significant changes will happen for another 18 months.
JetSuiteX announced by JetSuite: JetSuite has announced a new service using E135 (30 passenger) jets for scheduled service to Las Vegas, Burbank and Bozeman from the Bay Area. The introductory rates from Concord, CA to Las Vegas, NV are starting @ $109 each way. I was able to fly their 4 passenger jet last year which was an unforgettable experience. Now I can plan ahead more than <24 hours prior to the mystery origin/destination flight. The flight schedule can be found here. “JetSuiteX’s new fleet of 30 passenger, WiFi equipped, Embraer 135s offers with speeds up to 515 miles per hour, an operating ceiling of 37,000 feet and an interior cabin that seats thirty passengers comfortably. The E135 is powered by two Rolls-Royce AE 3007 – A1 engines, providing a range of 1,150 nautical miles. The cabin is comprised of three seats per row with comfortable leather seats and ample legroom.” More details on the announcement can be found here.
I can’t wait to use it to fly to Vegas this summer for a pool party! They even are offering flights to Coachella this weekend for $249 each way.
Global Entry Renewal: I’ve had my Global Entry membership for over 4 years now so I applied to renew the membership. I assumed it would require another interview but I received an electronic approval letter stating it’s been approved and my membership now expires in 2022. This is the most valuable membership for any international/domestic traveler. Thank you to the US CBP for making the renewal very easy. Just another application and $100 payment.
Stay tuned for a review of American Airlines Business Class on their LAX-SYD route using their flagship plane, B777-300ER.