January 31, 2013
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SmartBrief for The Business Traveler

Atlanta airport tops rankings for dining, amenities
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was picked as the top airport for amenities and dining and most preferred for connecting flights by an annual survey from Travel Leaders Group. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport ranked second in amenities and dining. "Major airports have transformed considerably in the last decade to accommodate the shift in the amount of time travelers spend there," said Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben. TravelPulse (1/29)
Rights for disgruntled air travelers are murky
The shortage of Federal Aviation Administration rules on what rights passengers have in the air when it comes to complaining about restrictions on cabin movement, electronic devices or carry-on luggage have left some travelers feeling like victims of overreacting flight attendants, this feature says. The Transportation Security Administration lodged 7,524 complaints about carriers in the first nine months of last year, a significant increase over the same time the previous year. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (1/28)
The Smarter Traveler
Southwest introduces early-boarding plan
Southwest Airlines has introduced a new ancillary service that lets passengers board planes ahead of others. The group "A" boarding option costs $40 per flight and is available at the gate 45 minutes before a flight's departure. The Dallas Morning News (free content) (1/21)
Groups are pushing for smaller meetings, study finds
Shorter, smaller meetings with less lead time are driving a rebound in the U.S. meetings industry, a study by the Active Network found. The shift is motivated by corporations' cost-conscious outlook in the current economic environment, the study says. HotelsMag.com (free registration) (1/28)
Refuel and Refresh
Top-notch airport lounges give competitive edge
Airport lounges are an increasingly critical tool for airlines and airports competing over premium-class international travelers, this feature says. The EVA Air lounge in Taipei offers travelers a shower, laptop charging station and hot food such as dumplings and waffles, while Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport spent $1.6 million to build a new lounge for Priority Pass members that offers food, drinks and more. San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) (free registration) (1/30)
Local, fresh menu options are big dining trend
Demand for fresher, healthier foods and expanded menu options beyond burgers and steaks are driving change in food and beverage offerings as hotels seek to keep guests in-house at mealtimes. A large percentage of attendees at the BITAC Food & Beverage East forum this week reported that guests are extremely or somewhat willing to try new menu items, a trend driving the additions of local dishes made from scratch with fresh ingredients and craft brews to many hotel menus. Hotel Interactive (1/28)
Spotlight on Meetings and Events from MPI
Why You Should Eat and Meet
What is it about food that helps with meetings? In an interesting study conducted by Lakshmi Balachandra, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College and a fellow at the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, it was found that "eating while deciding important matters offers profitable, measurable benefits through mutually productive discussions." Read more at the MPI site.
Travel Pulse
How important is hotel loyalty to you?
Somewhat important  39.06%
Very important  29.61%
It's a minor consideration  23.61%
I don't take it into account at all  7.73%
All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.
John Gunther,
American author and journalist

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