Red Lion Sues Hard Rock Hotels for Infringement in Race to Win Over Millennials

Red Lion Hotels

The Living Stage at the Hotel RL in Baltimore, Maryland. Red Lion Hotels is suing competitor Hard Rock International, alleging that Hard Rock’s new Reverb brand copies its own Hotel RL brand. Red Lion Hotels

Skift Take: There are literally only so many ways you can appeal to Millennials in hotel design, and copycats are inevitable. That’s why hospitality really can be a “me too” industry, as hotelier Ian Schrager so often laments.

— Deanna Ting

When it comes to appealing to Millennials — of which there are now 75.4 million in the United States alone — hotel companies are doing all they can to launch wallet-friendly, yet still-stylish accommodations that emphasize such features as co-working spaces, communal stadium seating, artisanal goods, and craft beers.

Often classified as midscale hotels, these brands include the new Tru by Hilton and Marriott’s Moxy, for example. And there are more of these brands in the works: Trump Hotels’ American Idea, for one, and InterContinental Hotels Group’s yet-to-be-named one.

And now, one U.S. hotel company is suing another in an effort to either protect its intellectual property rights or keep the competition at bay, depending on your perspective.

On July 12, Red Lion Hotels filed a lawsuit against Hard Rock International for “trade dress infringement, injury to business reputation, and unfair competition.”

Red Lion alleges that Hard Rock’s newest hotel brand, Reverb, is a carbon copy of its own Hotel RL brand, which it launched in October 2014 and currently has seven properties throughout the United States.

Hard Rock announced its Reverb by Hard Rock brand at the NYU Hospitality Investment Industry Conference in June, and it currently has no properties. Hard Rock trademarked the name in 2015, however.

In court documents, Red Lion said that not only does Hard Rock’s Reverb brand go after the same audience (“millennial mindset travelers”) and copy its “Internal industry model” of opening up these hotels in urban markets, but that the “copying” of “signature elements” is “remarkable — and unmistakable.”

Specifically, Red Lion alleges the following examples:

  • Hotel RL’s lobby/coffee bar is Reverb’s “Constant Grind Coffee/Bar”
  • The Living Stage at Hotel RL is “The Stage” at Reverb and will also be used for live entertainment as it is at Hotel RL
  • The Steps at Hotel RL (stadium-style seating) are “Communal Steps” at Reverb
  • Both hotel brands have the same tech-driven check-in process

These elements alone, aren’t necessarily unique to either the Hotel RL or Reverb brand. In 2014, for example, Starwood’s Le Meridien brand launched a coffeehouse-inspired campaign transforming its lobbies into European-style coffeehouses. Other hotel brands have similarly carved out spaces in their hotels as entertainment spaces, and stadium-style public seating can be seen at a variety of hotel brands, from Ian Schrager’s new Public New York and Marriott’s M Beta Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, to IHG’s own EVEN hotels brand.

And let’s face it: All major hotel companies are working to offer mobile check-in and to simplify the check-in process for guests with the use of technology, or self-check-in kiosks.

A rendering of the lobby concept for the Reverb by Hard Rock brand. Source: Hard Rock Hotels

Red Lion, however, alleges that these similarities aren’t just the result of a shared effort to appeal to Millennials; it’s the fact that Red Lion and Hard Rock hired the same hotel consulting group to develop their respective brands.

“That group [Chicago-based Gettys Group] also provided similar consulting services to Hard Rock, and so it raised our concerns even higher that they were really working off of our information to develop their plans and designs for this new brand,” Douglas Ludwig, Red Lion CFO, told Skift. “Clearly, we have the full documentation of what Gettys provided to us for the Hotel RL brand. There is so much overlap between what they provided to us and what this new Hard Rock brand represents.

“If there’s one or two things and other people are doing it, that’s not the issue. It’s the quantity of overlap. We are protecting our rights. We are protecting, effectively, all the previous work we’ve done to establish Hotel RL. It’s really the culmination and volume of copying that appears to be, so obviously, an infringement on our rights.”

Ludwig said Red Lion plans to take legal action against Gettys Group, as well.

Skift reached out to the Gettys Group but a spokesperson declined to comment.

Hard Rock issued the following statement: “Hard Rock International believes that the RLH Corporation’s claims are without merit, and will vigorously defend itself against such claims. Hard Rock has more than 46 years of experience and we are the authority in providing premium, lifestyle offerings and authentic music experiences to guests around the world. As this is pending litigation, Hard Rock has no further comment.”

Makarand Mody, assistant professor of hospitality marketing at the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration said of the shared “signature elements:” “While the coffee bar may not be as much of a problem, one of the issues that the Reverb may have brought upon itself is that the names of the other two concepts are similar to the Hotel RL: Hotel RL’s Living Stage and Reverb’s Stage, and Hotel RL’s Steps and Reverb’s Communal Steps,” Mody said.

He added, “Many of the themes that new hotel brands are trying to incorporate, across hotel categories, are indeed similar: local experiences, artisanal food and beverage, and an emphasis on communal spaces, among others. While it’s much harder to prove that the ideas underlying these design concepts have been copied, the fact that they are also being called something very similar may create a problem for Reverb.”

Ludwig said that during the brand development process for Hotel RL, Red Lion provided “initial guidance as to which audience we wanted to focus on, and some of the initial elements,” and that the final result would be the effort of “a lot of input from both Gettys and ourselves, but obviously with us having the final sign-off on what it should be.”

He said the company’s contract with Gettys Group included non-disclosure and confidentiality requirements and “it appears from the facts of this situation, they clearly disregarded that.”

He said Red Lion will also take legal action against Gettys Group and added, “We would not choose to use Gettys going forward given this blatant plagiarizing that’s occurred here. That’s definitive.”

As for its lawsuit against Hard Rock, Red Lion wants Hard Rock to “cease and desist in terms of their rolling out of this new brand on the basis that they have currently described,” Ludwig said. “We’ll take what actions we deem necessary to bring closure to this problem and to be properly compensated for clear damages that have been caused by this situation.”

This isn’t the first time a hotel company has accused a competitor of intellectual property theft. Starwood Hotels & Resorts sued Hilton in 2009, alleging that two of its former executives who joined Hilton had conspired to steal secrets from W Hotels to help Hilton create its own version of W, to be called Denizen.

Hilton later paid Starwood $75 million to settle civil charges of corporate espionage, and agreed not to launch or acquire a lifestyle brand like Denizen for two years.

“This is definitely interesting given that Reverb is still in the development stage and doesn’t have an actual hotel,” said Mody. “I think Red Lion is trying to nip this in the bud, like in the W/Denizen case, preventing the brand from even coming into existence. Clearly, there is a legal precedent created by the W/Denizen case, so I would think Red Lion hopes to achieve a similar result: fines and, importantly, an injunction against the development.”

Still, Mody noted that in Starwood’s case against Hilton, there was clear evidence that Hilton admitted to having possession of Starwood’s documents and it “was more of an open-and-shut case. That doesn’t seem to be the case here for Red Lion. However, there is the fact that the same branding group was used by both firms, which may help Red Lion in arguing its case.”

Here is the Red Lion lawsuit:

Download (PDF, 3.65MB)

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Feeling Lucky? Enter Our Skift Global Forum Giveaway

Skift Take: One lucky fan will win a trip to New York City to attend Skift Global Forum! Will it be you?

— Rafat Ali

Our fourth annual Skift Global Forum is officially less than 3 months away and if you weren’t already excited, you are about to be!

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Interview: Viva Aerobus CEO on Why Half-Standing Seats Still Intrigue Him

Viva Aerobus

Viva Aerobus CEO Juan Carlos Zuazua wants to do everything he can to keep his airline’s costs low. Viva Aerobus

Skift Take: With good management, this ultra low-cost airline strategy is profitable just about everywhere. The key? Airlines like Viva Aerobus must be fanatical about costs, and they must provide the cheapest fares, all the time. They also should treat their customers fairly.

— Brian Sumers

If he could, Viva Aerobus CEO Juan Carlos Zuazua might install half-standing, half-sitting seats on his airline’s Airbus A320s. Several manufacturers have shopped them over the past decade, saying there’s no reason passengers must be fully seated for short flights.

Not many airline executives admit they want to cram so many passengers on each plane. But Zuazua, CEO of Mexico’s only true ultra low-cost carrier, said most of his customers — every day about 22 percent fly for the first time — want only the cheapest prices. Comfort, he said, is less of a concern.

“My average stage length is an hour and 30 minutes so perhaps that’s something that passengers may be able to take if the price was right,” Zuazua said in a recent interview.

If Zuazua sounds like Michael O’Leary, the savvy yet loose-lipped CEO of Europe’s Ryanair, it’s for good reason. For a decade, ending late last year, an investment firm controlled by Declan Ryan, a member of the family that founded Ryanair, owned nearly half of Viva Aerobus.

Ryan’s company, called Irelandia Aviation, provides funding and advice to low cost airlines, especially in Latin America, helping them follow Ryanair’s no-frills model. Viva Aerobus is now fully owned by Grupo IAMSA, a Mexican bus company, which knows many of its customers want to trade-up to air travel. It would prefer to control the airline its customers fly.

But like Ryanair’s O’Leary, who has mused about half-standing seats but never adopted them, Zuazua said he knows the unusual configuration is probably not viable. While there’s likely no technical reason seats would not fit, airlines and manufacturers might struggle to certify them, since they would have to persuade safety regulators all those extra passengers could evacuate in an emergency.

“The reality is, it’s going to be very hard to put on more passengers,” Zuazua said.

Instead, Viva Aerobus is focused on the usual discount airline strategy — cutting costs while charging extra for nearly everything it can. Passengers may not like that some seats have as little as 28 inches of pitch, or roughly the same as Spirit Airlines in the United States. But when the alternative is a 12-hour bus ride, many prefer air travel.

Viva Aerobus is not the only Mexican airline offering alternatives to buses. Its biggest competitor is Volaris, a discounter with 68 aircraft, making it roughly three times the size of Viva Aerobus. But Volaris is slightly more full-service than VivaAerobus, and Zuazua claims his airline has a 32 percent cost advantage compared to its closest competitor.

Meanwhile, Zuazua said Viva Aerobus has an almost 70 percent cost advantage over Aeromexico, though given the different models, the two airlines don’t often attract the same customers.

We met with Zuazua recently at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles to learn more about Viva Aerobus’ model and its future plans.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Skift: Outside of Mexico, few people know Viva Aerobus. What should they know about your airline?

Juan Carlos Zuazua: Viva Aerobus is Mexico’s ultra low cost carrier. We are 10 years old. We are the fastest growing carrier in Mexico. We operate with an ultra low cost business model, very similar to what you’ll see in Europe, in Southeast Asia, and something close to what Allegiant and Spirit are doing in America. Basically, it’s about maximizing the asset utilization of your planes and your staff, with a low cost model that allows you to offer the lowest possible fares. For all the American carriers from Canada to Argentina — the publicly traded airlines — Viva Aerobus has the lowest cost structure … by a big gap.

Viva Aerobus’ current route network, taken from its website. It plans more U.S. routes soon.

Skift: You’re adding some U.S. routes, including Mexico City to Las Vegas and New York JFK and Guadalajara to Los Angeles, but you’re mostly a domestic airline. Will you add more U.S. flights?

Zuazua: We will continue growing mainly in Mexico because we still foresee a lot of opportunities, and the reason for that is because we have the unique competitive advantage of distributing in the big bus stations because of our shareholder company. But we’re starting important routes, such JFK.

We’re not going go nuts in the U.S. We’re going to pick some important markets, and we’re going to put some decent capacity there, but these are routes that our existing customers in the Mexican market are demanding. They want to go to California and New York and certain parts of Texas, so we’re going to be selecting some key markets, and growing north, but still growing domestically.

Skift: How’d the airline get its name?

Zuazua: The original founder of this airline was the biggest bus operator in Mexico, which is called IAMSA. They were looking for a strategic investor because they knew that the middle class passenger in their business would eventually trade up and move from the bus to the air. They found a strategic partner, which were the founders of Ryanair Europe. [They thought,] it was like a bus with wings, so they called it Aerobus.

And Viva is a very Mexican — like Viva Mexico. That was a combination of two words, which gave birth to this successful airline.

Skift: Is it still like flying a bus?

Zuazua: I can tell you we transport, 26 or 27 thousand daily passengers, and around 22 percent are first-time flyers. Air travel penetration is so small in Mexico that Viva Aerobus is giving the opportunity to passengers to fly for the first time. So for many people, yes, it’s like taking a bus with wings — just cheaper and faster. For many others, it’s just making it easier to fly.

Skift: A lot of your passengers often still use buses, right?

Zuazua: We were the first airline, or even the only airline, that has successfully connected a multi-model bus-to-air offering. So the bus consumer in Mexico, who has never flown an airline, can arrive to over 400 bus stations in the network of our parent company, [and fly with Viva Aerobus]. They can arrive in Colima which is almost coast of Pacific, which is like [250] kilometers to Guadalajara, and in the bus station of Colima, they go to Omnibus, and they buy a Colima-Los Angeles ticket.

You’ll get a bus from Colima bus station to Guadalajara bus station at a 50 percent discount — everything in one single purchase. And then, from the Guadalajara bus station to the airport, you’ll get a shuttle, which goes every 15 minutes. And also included, the flight from Guadalajara airport to LAX.

Skift: What’s the hardest thing for first-time flyers to get used to?

Zuazua: We have passengers who buy a ticket and arrive to the airport without ID, because when you buy a bus ticket, you don’t need an ID in Mexico. Also, another thing is baggage. In the bus, you can bring all the baggage you want. It’s not regulated.

I think there’s an educational process. We have customers who buy tickets at the bus station, and also customers who buy their tickets on Expedia. You need to ensure you have the proper communication on every different channel, to ensure the customer knows your terms and conditions, or your conditions of carriage, in a simple way.

Skift: What’s your seat pitch?

Zuazua: We were the first operator in Latin America to take what Airbus calls the maximum seat density on an A320. [It meant] going from 180 [seats] to 186, because we made a reconfiguration in the back galleys. We have 31 rows, of which half have 30 inches [of pitch]. Exit rows have 33. The back part of the aircraft has 29, and the last five rows have 28 inches.

People who want to pay for the exit rows, which have 33 inches, are going to pay for the seat assignment. Customers who don’t care are going to take the 28-inch pitch seat.

Skift: If you could put in more than 186 passengers, would you?

Zuazua: Yes, absolutely. But the reality is that it’s going be very hard on an A320 to put more passengers. We already took it to basically to the stretch, because we moved the bathrooms to the back. We needed to sacrifice half of the galleys [to get to 186 seats], so the only other available option is a seat that can get certified in which passengers are not fully seated, but they are inclined.

Skift: You don’t hear many airline executives considering half-standing seats.

Zuazua: Because very few airline executives are focusing on costs. The reality of our business is, 90 precent of our time we’re focusing on how are we going to reduce the cost of flying.

Skift: You think anyone will certify the half-standing seats?

Zuazua: I don’t know if they’re going get it. The big cost innovation for this decade is going to be the brand new engine technology, which is going make an important reduction, but apart from that, it takes decades in this industry for important cost savings. Perhaps in the next couple of decades, hopefully, we’ll get an electric plane, and that’s going be the holy grail for aviation.

Skift: What about more traditional ways to add seats? Perhaps you just shrink pitch a little more on your existing fleet?

Zuazua: Airbus has been fighting for three more seats right now, to 189, to match the Boeing 737-800. So if you ask me, my opinion, I see perhaps three more seats on our aircraft, and that’s it.

Skift: To put in the crazy concept seats, you’d need more exits for evacuations, right?

Zuazua: You will need more exits, and the manufacturer will need to get the program re-certified. That’s something that is very hard to do. Certainly that’s a challenge they have, but if it’s something that will work, Viva is certainly an airline that would be considering packing a little bit more seats. Or perhaps, [we would do it in] half of the airplane, like we’re doing it right now. The fact is that the back part of my airplanes are a little bit more packed.

Skift: You vary the prices for many ancillary items according to demand. That’s similar to how airlines set ticket prices, but often ancillary products have a set price. Why use dynamic pricing?

Zuazua: Traditionally, airlines have been very good at doing revenue management on the fare component — understanding the customer behavior, the customer demand, and moving prices to maximize. But what very few carriers have been able to do is to use revenue management to optimize ancillary revenue offering, according to passenger profiles. That’s where we’re putting big efforts in order to be more relevant in the offers we make to our consumers.

Skift: Is it possible that I will fly on one of your flights, and I will pay more for my baggage than the person sitting next to me?

Zuazua: Absolutely. That’s already happening today.

Skift: Would you charge me more for a good seat because you know my ZIP code?

Zuazua: Not a ZIP code, but if it’s a person who is booking last minute and perhaps has a profile which is a business type of passenger, we can charge you more for our seats.

There are also several seasonal effects. For example,[when] travelers from Tijuana are flying to Mexico City before Christmas, they are highly propensed to bring a lot of luggage, so we will vary fees.

Skift: Let’s say I’m shopping on your website, and I abandon the shopping cart after I see what you’re charging for baggage. You probably monitor that. Might you send me an email later, saying, ‘Come back, and the bag is a new price?’

Zuazua: No, we have a shopping cart program, but right now, it’s mainly focused for a customer who abandons a shopping cart for their seat. We send an email targeted to that customer either to convince him to come back with a special discount, or at least we’ll hold the fare for them to come back within the next 24 hours and complete that purchase. That is working very, very good.

Skift: If a customer abandons a cart, you might offer a special discount to return?

Zuazua: It might be a discount. It depends on the business rules we put on the given route — whether it’s a route in which we’re aiming for volume, or if it’s a route in which we are aiming for yield.

But [no matter what,] we are going to respect the fare you saw. Let’s say that the fare bucket they wanted to buy has already sold out, and the new fare on the website is $10 or $20 or above. That’s how the airlines price. We tell the passengers, ‘We’re going to respect the price 20 minutes ago.’ In other words, it’s still a discount, because a new price is already higher, because perhaps those three seats already sold out.

Skift: Do customers appreciate the personalized emails?

Zuazua: What we’ve seen is that the more relevant you become to your customers, the better chance you have to improve the conversion rates. What customers hate, in my opinion, is to be getting massive advertising of things that are not relevant to you. [I want] specific advertising that is relevant to me.

Skift: Travelers also hate it when they come in the morning to find a good deal, and by night-time, it’s gone. How do you educate them that prices change?

Zuazua: It’s about urgency messaging. If there’s only two seats left at that price, we share that with the customer. Sometimes, our customers, they don’t like it when fares sell out, because they look for a fare in the morning, and it’s $40. Then, they go at night to talk to their husbands, to convince them to take it, and they come back, and they see, suddenly, those fare classes have sold out. When they come back, there’s another fare class. So what we try to tell them is there’s only two seats left at this price.

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U.S. Rail Line Amtrak Mulls Shrinking Legroom Like Airlines Do


A woman passenger enjoys her premium Amtrak seat on September 9, 2016. The rail line is considering shrinking legroom in economy-class seats to increase revenue. Amtrak

Skift Take: Senator Schumer’s opposition won’t be enough to dissuade Amtrak from installing economy seats and mounting an initiative to increase ancillary revenue. Hellooo: Former Delta CEO Richard Anderson is the new Amtrak CEO. Enough said.

— Dennis Schaal

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is asking Amtrak to discard the idea of creating new economy seating with reduced legroom aboard its trains.

Schumer says in a statement Sunday that Amtrak should find other ways to save money without burdening passengers.

Outgoing Amtrak co-chief executive Wick Moorman said last week that the company was looking at creating the “economy” seating that would add more rows of seats in an effort to make more money.

Schumer is calling the idea “right out of the airline’s playbook.” The senator from New York is urging Amtrak to “scrap the shrinking seats idea” and look at other ways of making money.

He said the government should invest in Amtrak every year so the company doesn’t have to consider proposals that hurt the consumer.

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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Robot Helps Passengers Navigate Seattle-Tacoma Airport in 6 Languages

Advanced Robot & AI Solutions

Tracey the robot was demonstrated at an electronics show and has been trotted out for a test to help passengers at Seattle-Tacoma Aiport. Advanced Robot & AI Solutions

Skift Take: Tracey speaks six languages and doesn’t accept tips, but hands out advice as a demonstration of her special talents at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. It’s a great idea but when Tracey can rebook passengers from cancelled flights, then we’ll get really excited.

— Dennis Schaal

A robot named Tracey is greeting passengers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, providing tips to get them smoothly through security checkpoints.

The red and white human-sized robot carries a large electronic sign and can speak to passengers in six different languages.

Airport officials say the robot isn’t designed to replace human workers, but to allow them to spend more time on critical security work.

Tracey was created by Advanced Robot & AI Solutions. CEO Paul McManus says it is a demonstration model, but future versions could recognize when a traveler is wearing sunglasses or a hat and ask them to take it off before the security checkpoint.

The robot is temporarily on duty at the Seattle airport as it hosts a meeting of airport executives from around the country.

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NTSB Probes How Air Canada Plane Nearly Landed on Taxiway

Marcio Jose Sanchez  / Associated Press

An Air Canada Airbus A320 was cleared to land on one of the runways at the San Francisco airport just before midnight on July 7, 2017 when the pilot ‘inadvertently’ lined up with the taxiway, which runs parallel to the runway. Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

Skift Take: We’ve seen before how incidents such as this and actual crashes have led to healthy air-safety reforms so hopefully something positive will emerge from the Air Canada near-miss, as well.

— Dennis Schaal

Investigators looking into the frighteningly close call involving an airliner that nearly hit planes on the ground at San Francisco International Airport will try to determine why the pilots made such a rookie mistake and nearly landed on a busy taxiway instead of the runway. [Listen to the cockpit audio courtesy of BBC News.]

The Air Canada plane with 140 people aboard came within 100 feet of crashing onto the first two of four passenger-filled planes readying for takeoff. Runways are edged with rows of white lights, and another system of lights on the side of the runway helps guide pilots on their descent. By contrast, taxiways have blue lights on the edges and green lights down the center.

“The lighting is different for good reason,” said Steven Wallace, a former director of accident investigations at the Federal Aviation Administration. “Some of these visual mistakes are hard to believe, but a crew gets fixated with thinking ‘That’s the runway,’ and it’s not.”

Then there is the radio transmission in which one of the Air Canada pilots sounded puzzled about seeing what appeared to be the lights of other planes on the runway. Safety experts said that should have prompted the crew to abort their approach long before they did.

When investigators interview the pilots, they will focus on understanding how mistakes occurred “and why they did not realize the sequence of errors,” said John Cox, a safety consultant and former airline pilot. Investigators will look at the pilots’ use of automated-flying systems, their manual flying skills, and how they interacted with each other as uncertainty set in, he said.

Investigators from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board may arrive this weekend and interview the pilots and air traffic controllers, an agency spokesman said Friday. They will examine information from the flight data recorder, which will tell them the plane’s exact location and how it was being flown. They also will listen to the cockpit voice recorder, which may indicate whether the pilots were focused on their job or distracted.

Canada’s transportation safety board said the Air Canada jet skimmed just 100 feet over the tops of two planes waiting for takeoff. After an air traffic controller ordered them to abandon their landing, the pilots pulled up their Airbus A320 just in time, circled and landed correctly on the runway. No one was injured.

The Canadian agency’s summary was the first official account of just how dangerous the situation was.

An Air Canada spokeswoman said she could not comment because the incident is under investigation. She declined to describe the amount of experience of the pilots.

A recording of the radio calls between pilots and the control tower captured uncertainty in the Air Canada cockpit as the plane approached shortly before midnight on July 7. One of the pilots radioed to the tower that he saw lights — presumably other planes — on the runway. An air traffic controller assured him the runway was clear.

After a pilot apparently in one of the planes on the ground said the Air Canada jet was heading straight for the taxiway, a controller ordered the Air Canada crew to abort the landing.

From the vantage point of the Air Canada crew, four parallel surfaces appeared below them — from left to right they were taxiway F; runway 28L, which was closed; runway 28R, on which they were supposed to land, and taxiway C, where the other planes were waiting their turn to take off.

“I could see where you get lined up incorrectly, but once you start seeing lights on the runway you’re not necessarily looking at a runway,” said William Waldock, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He said investigators will look at “all the visual cues that might have confused them.”

Chris Manno, an American Airlines pilot, said the Air Canada crew should have stopped their approach while they figured out why they were seeing lights from other planes on what they thought was the runway.

Taxiway landings are rare, and most of them involve small planes.

In February, actor Harrison Ford landed his single-engine propeller plane on a taxiway at John Wayne Airport in Southern California after narrowly missing an American Airlines plane with 100 passengers. The actor, an experienced pilot, realized his mistake immediately and was not punished by the FAA.

Some airliners have mistakenly landed or taken off from taxiways.

In 2006 a Continental Airlines jet passed through rain that reduced visibility before landing on a taxiway in Newark, New Jersey. The captain took control of the plane from the co-pilot when he realized the mistake.

In 2009, a Delta Air Lines jet landed on a taxiway in Atlanta. In 2015, an Alaska Airlines jet landed safely on a taxiway between runways in Seattle.

Traveling on airlines has become remarkably safe. No U.S. airline has had a fatal accident since 2009.

The last fatal accident involving a foreign airline on U.S. soil was the 2013 crash at San Francisco International Airport of an Asiana Boeing 777 carrying 307. Three passengers died after the plane’s tail struck a seawall while landing on runway 28L — next to the runway where the Air Canada jet landed.

The Asiana pilots came in too low and were unable to execute the kind of go-around that the Air Canada jet did.

Throughout aviation history, deadly accidents have led to safety improvements. As fatal crashes have become rare, “the only way to get better is to learn from close calls and incidents,” Wallace said.


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Travel This Week — What To Expect

Global Business Travel Association

Staffers take part in the GBTA Cares Service Project at the Global Business Travel Association Convention 2017 in Boston on July 15, 2017. Global Business Travel Association

Skift Take: Both the Global Business Travel Association Convention 2017 and United’s second quarter earnings this week should give us a better handle on how corporate travel demand is faring in the Age of Trump and political uncertainties around the globe.

— Dennis Schaal

Conferences and earnings season, as well as approaching contract deadlines, always portend big news in the week ahead.

From a travel industry perspective, here’s what you need to know.

Global Business Travel Association Conference 2017

GBTA Convention 2017 has already kicked off in Boston and, as expected, the product and partnership announcements are already flying at breakneck speed. The theme is “convergence” so you can anticipate lots of talk about the sharing economy and corporate travel, as well as all-important bleisure trends.

As the conference proceeds over the next few days, we expect to get greater insight into how Trump administration policies, global political unrest, and macro issues have impacted business travel demand in recent months and what the outlook will be. There are things, we predict, that won’t be overtly discussed, and they impact a sometimes-lack of convergence between the big wheels in corporate travel and business travelers below.

Pro Tip: Don’t expect retired General David Petraeus, who’s a featured luncheon speaker, to shed much light on the progress of getting basic economy fares into global distribution systems.

United Reports Second Quarter Earnings

United Continental Holdings is slated to report its second quarter results Wednesday, and they are shaping up to be a positive affair. According to preliminary estimates passenger revenue per available seat mile will be up 2 percent and pre-tax margins are expected to rise higher than the airline predicted in April.

As with the Global Business Travel Association Convention, it will be interesting to get United’s take on corporate travel demand and the Trump slump or bump. So far, at least, the travel industry’s worst fears have been nightmarish, but not a reality.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if United comments on — or gets questioned by analysts about — any hangover from the infamous incident of the doctor who got dragged off a plane. It doesn’t appear to have had a material effect on United’s earnings but it certainly didn’t boost United’s brand reputation.

An Appeals Court Ruling on the Trump Travel Ban

Grandparents and other relatives of would-be visitors and refugees will be watching the legal maneuvering surrounding the Trump travel ban this week. Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Justice asked the Ninth Circuit of Appeals to stay a district court ruling in Hawaii that widened the list of “bona-fide” relatives in the United States that could be considered during the vetting of refugee visas.

The Trump administration, following its partial win in the U.S. Supreme Court in June, had excluded consideration of refugees’ ties to grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins in the United States.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could issue its decision on a stay of the Hawaii ruling this week pending the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately deciding the matter in October.

Expedia-Hyatt Negotiations

The clock is ticking on the July 31 expiration of the Expedia-Hyatt distribution contract. Hyatt has gone ahead and penned a new contract with to strike fear into Expedia’s heart, but it’s unclear how much could make up for any Hyatt shortfall from Expedia if Hyatt’s properties go dark on Expedia at the end of this month.

Make no mistake, although Hyatt’s volumes on Expedia account for a small, single-digit amount of Expedia’s revenue, there are still hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in the outcome of these talks.

Will Hyatt’s property owners, whose interests aren’t always completely aligned with the mothership, start to speak out this week? Will the two sides announce a negotiation extension or even an agreement? Stay tuned. The whole hospitality and online travel industry is watching.

No Let-up in Trivago-TripAdvisor TV Advertising Competition

You can expect to see a lot more of the Trivago Guy and Trivago Woman tandem in U.S. TV advertising this week along with that cute owl character from rival TripAdvisor. Over the last week, according to, Trivago has seemingly pressed its spending advantage, outspending TripAdvisor an estimated $9.5 million for Trivago versus some $2.9 million for TripAdvisor.

Of course, both companies do TV advertising internationally, too, and they have tons of competitors beyond each other. Still, we’ll find out in earnings next month for both companies what, if anything, is making a dent.

Ryan Wolkov

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Mobile-Friendly Hotels and 3 Other Hospitality Trends This Week


Hilton is developing its app to gather more personalized information on guests that can be used to customize their stays. Hilton

Skift Take: This week in hospitality we thought a lot about direct booking. Premier Inn proves it doesn’t need online travel agencies and hotels that are mobile-friendly might not need them as much either.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines hospitality.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>Premier Inn’s proportion of direct bookings is pretty eye-opening, but the brand operates under a particular set of circumstances. If it decides to ramp up its international expansion, it will be interesting to see if it chooses to make more use of online travel agents: The Hotel Chain That Doesn’t Need or Expedia

>>If travel really is all about the experiences, travel companies — with or without loyalty programs — better do all they can to make sure our experiences aren’t just good, but great: The Business of Loyalty: How Hotels Build Loyalty Beyond the Stay

>>Monte Carlo might be known for its traditional luxury offering, but a deeper look shows a hospitality group that’s keenly aware of its positioning, the changing market and how it must adapt to ensure a spot of the ultra-wealthy’s jet set itineraries: How Monte Carlo Embraces Change for a New Luxury Customer

>>Where online travel agencies make it easy for guests to book hotel rooms from their smartphones, hotels need to do a much better job if they want more direct bookings. And they need to make better apps while they’re at it: Guests Are More Satisfied at Hotels That Are Mobile Friendly

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Disney Reveals Park Plans To Maximize Marvel and Star Wars Brands

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

An immersive Star Wars-themed hotel is planned at Walt Disney World, the theme park operator announced at fan event D23 Expo on Saturday. Part of the hotel is shown in this rendering. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Skift Take: The world’s biggest theme parks keep forcing each other to raise their games. Disney’s announcement shows major updates in Orlando, which is no surprise given how much undeveloped land remains at the resort and the competition from other players.

— Hannah Sampson

Walt Disney Co. said it will build an immersive “Star Wars” hotel at its resort in Orlando, Florida, as part of a flurry of investments announced Saturday by the company’s theme-park division.

Disney revealed the two “Star Wars” themed lands it is building will be called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, with the one at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, set to open first in 2019 and the Orlando one opening later that same year.

Disney parks and resorts division chairman Bob Chapek made the announcement Saturday at the company’s D23 Expo, a biennial event for fans held at the Anaheim Convention Center, near the company’s Disneyland and California Adventure parks. Theme parks are Disney’s second-largest division after television. The company has been investing heavily in the business on the premise that park attractions can’t easily be copied by competitors or made obsolete by new technology.

“There’s no virtual-reality experience in the world that’s going to replicate what you get physically by walking down that Main Street,” Chapek said earlier this year in reference to one of Disneyland’s signature features.

The theme-park business is betting heavily on its own characters, much as Disney’s movie division began to rely more on company-owned intellectual property following the acquisitions of Marvel Entertainment in 2009 and Lucasfilm in 2012.

A ride based on the film “Tron” that has been a hit at Disney’s new Shanghai resort will be replicated at Orlando’s Magic Kingdom park. The Paradise Pier at Disney’s California Adventure park in Anaheim will be revamped with a Pixar theme. That same park will get Spider-Man and Avengers attractions in a new Super Hero land.

New Attractions

Epcot, the Florida park that opened in 1982 as kind of a permanent world fair, is getting new attractions designed to turn it into more of a traditional amusement park. An attraction based on the Pixar film “Ratatouille” will be built near the base of the Eiffel Tower and a new thrill ride tied to the Marvel franchise “Guardians of the Galaxy” will be added.

The Burbank, California-based company announced a new cruise ship, the Disney Riviera hotel in Orlando, and a gondola-based transportation system that will connect its Epcot and Hollywood Studios parks with some of the nearby Disney hotels.

Disney is experimenting with ways to shorten wait times for popular rides. Starting on July 19, the company will allow Anaheim park guests to reserve a time to jump on its shorter “FastPass” lines for an extra $10 a day. Parkgoers in Orlando have already had that ability, although without an additional charge.

Elsewhere at the D23 Expo, Disney gave fans a sneak peak of a new augmented reality game that features a lightsaber and a headset made by Lenovo Group Ltd. It will allow players to conduct virtual sword fights in their homes. The latest installment of the series, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” hits theaters December 15.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Christopher Palmeri from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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Portugal Comes Closer to a Drone Crackdown After Airplane Near-Misses

Associated Press

Drones can be fun for hobbyists, but the flying, remote-controlled devices are now taking the place of lasers as the worst nightmare of commercial airline pilots. Associated Press

Skift Take: There hasn’t been a confirmed collision between a drone and a commercial aircraft. But the potential for a disaster is real enough that pilots unions in many countries want the hobbyist devices policed. It’s hard to disagree.

— Sean O’Neill

Portugal is expediting a law that will introduce mandatory registration and insurance for drones weighing more than 250 grams (8.8 ounces).

The measure follows eight near-misses between drones and commercial aircraft at Portuguese airports in June. Airlines have warned of a potential disaster caused by drones.

Infrastructure Minister Pedro Marques says experts are also developing radar technology that will allow the detection of small unmanned aircraft.

Marques told a parliamentary committee Friday that he doesn’t expect planned European Union-wide legislation on smaller drones to be ready before next year, so the Portuguese government is accelerating its own law for publication by the end of this month.

EU laws currently cover only drones weighing more than 150 kilograms (330 pounds).

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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