Airline reward plans become cash cows


Airline reward plans become cash cows — Airlines envisioned them as a simple marketing tool. But frequent flyer programs, 25 years later, have become big cash generators for an industry struggling on other fronts, as airlines raise hundreds of millions of dollars by selling mileage credits to banks, hotels, car rentals and phone companies.

Evacuees still occupy more than 10,000 La. hotel rooms — FEMA reports it has evacuees in 26,885 rooms in 3,157 hotels throughout the nation. In Louisiana, the agency is paying for 10,517 rooms in 488 hotels. Today is the last day for evacuees to call the agency to request an authorization code in order to extend their hotel stays beyond Feb. 7. Without the code, FEMA stops paying. (The Shreveport Times)

Southwest to battle any big Love fee hike — A showdown may be brewing between Southwest Airlines Co. and members of the Dallas City Council over landing fees at Dallas Love Field. Southwest says it will fight a steep hike in landing fees at city-owned Love Field. (Dallas Business Journal)

Millions travel home to ring in lunar new year
— The world’s most intense annual transfer of humanity climaxed over the weekend, with hundreds of millions of Chinese traveling home to celebrate the lunar new year. Officials said a total of 2 billion trips will have been generated by the end of the new year homecoming, which runs from Jan. 14 to Feb. 28. (The Washington Times)

Amtrak to vary prices on its Northeast trains based on demand
— Amtrak plans to adopt a pricing plan on its popular Northeast trains, similar to ones used by airlines, with fares varying by as much as 15 percent depending on passenger demand and train size. (Bloomberg)

There’s a popular new code for deals: RSS — For many people, e-mail newsletters are fast becoming the Internet equivalent of the Sunday paper: compendiums of useful information, often left unread in lieu of life’s other tasks. E-mail alerts on travel deals, in particular, can be easy to sign up for and equally difficult to keep up with. But with RSS, or Really Simply Syndication, keeping tabs on deals can get much easier. (The New York Times)

Fairmont agrees to $3.9 billion acquisition — Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Inc. said Monday it agreed to be acquired by investment groups Kingdom Hotels International and Colony Capital for $3.9 billion. Under terms of the deal, Kingdom and Colony will pay $45 per share in cash for Fairmont, which is based in Toronto. (Reuters)

A guest in good standing — Most of us would rather stay in a comfortable hotel than in someone’s home, but hotel prices being what they are, that spare bedroom or couch looks better all the time. Here are some tips for being a good houseguest. (The Los Angeles Times)

U.S. sees profit on airline loan guarantee program — A government board created to help U.S. airlines financially in their darkest moment — in the aftermath of the 2001 hijack attacks — could pocket more than $300 million for taxpayers when its work ends this year. (Reuters)

Valet parking soars at airports — A growing number of travelers using valet parking at airports around the country. The convenience and safety offered by the service, travelers say, offsets the cost — which is often absorbed by business expense accounts. At Newark, the $36 per day price of valet parking is three times more expensive than doing it yourself. (AP)

‘Brokeback Mountain’ could spur Wyoming tourism boom — Fans of Brokeback Mountain don’t seem to care the movie was actually filmed in Canada. They want the Wyoming experience. The Wyoming Business Council’s travel and tourism department has received hundreds of calls asking about scenery in the movie. (AP)

US Airways initiates second round of fare cuts
— US Airways Group Inc. has slashed fares to nearly 20 destinations connected to its Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, N.C., hubs, and also at New York’s LaGuardia. (The Phoenix Business Journal)

D.C. to take on hues of Provence for a week — Washington will take on the soft shades of Provence this week as top French chefs and retailers from the region descend on the capital as part of a charm offensive to woo travelers. (AFP)

easyJet founder says business is cruising — Stelios Haji-Ioannou targets younger, independent clients who can get themselves to his ship, albeit preferably via his airline, which has led a revolution in the European travel industry by providing no frills — “very little hand-holding,” as he put it — in order to cut costs. (AFP)

Carrie Charney, Christopher Elliott, John Frenaye, Charles Leocha, Marge Purnell, Valerie Schneider, Mary Staley, Stephanus Surjaputra, Richard Wong.