January 2017

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United Airlines picks MSP to debut no-frills 'basic economy' trips
United Airlines will introduce its new category of low-cost fares with flights to and from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this year.

Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. didn't set a date for the rollout of its "basic economy" fares - a new category of lower-price tickets that major carriers are adding to compete with no-frills competitors like Spirit Airlines. But travelers will be able to purchase basic economy fares for flights to and from MSP in the first quarter of 2017 for travel beginning in the second quarter.

After being tested at MSP, Guerin said the low-cost fare option will roll out to all seven of United's hubs.

Travelers with basic economy tickets will be seated in the main cabin, but seating will be restricted and customers won't be able to upgrade seats. Basic economy customers also will be restricted from traveling with a full-sized carry-on bag on board the flight. Those customers can still bring a personal item on board.

United Airlines announced it would be offering basic economy fares last November to appeal to its price sensitive customers and compete with other airlines offering low-cost fares.
Delta already offers basic economy seats, and Dallas-based American Airlines said today it would begin offering them next month.
Delta and Alaska Airlines Will End Partnership in May 2017

Delta will continue its commitment of investment and growth in the Pacific Northwest following a decision by Delta and Alaska Airlines to end their partnership. The decision is a positive milestone for both airlines as Alaska focuses on its merger integration with Virgin America and Delta focuses on creating more customer choice at its Seattle-Tacoma International Airport hub, where it now operates more than 150 peak-day flights to more than 40 destinations.

Effective May 1, 2017, Delta and Alaska will no longer have a codeshare agreement, and sales of flights under DL- and AS-coded flight numbers flown on Alaska and Delta aircraft respectively will cease. Additionally, customers of each airline will no longer be able to earn and redeem Delta miles or Mileage Plan miles on flights operated by the other carrier. The carriers will retain an interline agreement, allowing them to continue offering customers ticketing and baggage connectivity. Delta and Alaska today codeshare on only a small number of flights as Delta's growth in Seattle has reduced the need for codeshare flying.

Southwest adds direct flights to Nashville from MSP
Minnesotans who are fans of country music, sweet tea, chicken and biscuits will be happy to know Southwest Airlines is adding nonstop flights to Nashville from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport beginning June 4.

The new destination is a part of Southwest's plan to grow at MSP. The Dallas-based airline will add 12 percent more seats at MSP this year when compared to 2016. Southwest's growth also includes new routes to Baltimore, seasonal flights to Las Vegas and more seasonal flying to Florida.
Southwest's market share at MSP last year was about 5 percent with 1.8 million passengers, according to a previous Business Journal article on shifts at MSP.
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In fact, most expenses are pre-approved based on policy rules set in the system, and scanned receipts are included online making review and approvals faster and easier. Expense policy violations are clearly highlighted so managers can request corrections or simply remove questionable line-items and submit the expense report for reimbursement.  

The expense systems convert transactions for international travelers into the appropriate currency based on the date of travel.

To learn more, email us at info@blueribbontravel.com
Blue Ribbon Business Travel International Inc. is committed to providing you with useful information on the latest developments in the travel industry. The following information has been compiled from a variety of sources and is updated monthly.
Hilton Signs Nine Hotels in Mexico
Hilton today announced the signing of nine properties in Mexico that represent a number of Hilton brands, including Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Curio - A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton and Homewood Suites by Hilton, as well as the company's first dual-branded property in the country. These newly announced properties contribute nearly 1,200 rooms to the hotel company's pipeline and will join the portfolio of more than 45 existing hotels in Mexico.

The properties include:
  • Hilton Guadalajara Midtown
  • The Fives Downtown Hotel Playa del Carmen, Curio Collection by Hilton
  • 1970 Hotel Posadas Guadalajara, Curio Collection by Hilton
  • Zacatecas Centro Historico, Curio Collection by Hilton
  • Hilton Garden Inn Merida
  • Hilton Garden Inn Mexico City Santa Fe
  • Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton Saltillo
  • Hampton Inn by Hilton Cancun
Several Hilton properties opened in Mexico last year, including DoubleTree by Hilton Veracruz, Hilton Garden Inn Hotel Puebla Angelópolis and DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Mexico City Santa Fe, which will be joined by Hilton Garden Inn Mexico City Santa Fe to become Hilton's first dual-brand property in the country. 
IRS Lowers Mileage Reimbursement
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service's reimbursement rate for business mileage on a personal car has dropped for the second year in a row and the fifth time in 16 years. Beginning on Jan. 1, the rate will be 53.5 cents, down from 54 cents in 2016 and 57.5 cents in 2015.
"Fuel prices played a big role in the slight decrease of the standard reimbursement rate, but factors like rising insurance and maintenance prices offset the rate from dropping even further," said Donna Koppensteiner, senior vice president of Runzheimer, which has calculated the rate for the IRS since 1980.