The Future of the W Hotel Brand Will Be Born at Union Square

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • How Alaska Airlines is struggling with its (ex-Virgin America) Airbus fleet

  • AP: If your aircraft gets swapped for a Boeing 737 MAX, you can be darned sure your airline wants to tell you before boarding

    Gary Leff, who writes a popular travel blog called View from the Wing, thinks airlines will have to notify passengers waiting for the plane if a substitution means their flight will use a Max.

    “I think there will be announcements — people will know they are getting on a Max, especially in the case of an aircraft substitution,” Leff said. Airline officials, he said, “don’t want customers freaking out after pushback (from the gate) or after takeoff.”

  • NYT: New aircraft and the search for new markets make U.S. airlines ripe to try Africa non-stops

    The Boeing 787-9 aircraft in particular is being eyed as the key to opening up these longer nonstop routes. That plane can “make flying long distances more economical for airlines, and requires fewer passengers flying a route to do so,” said Gary Leff, a travel industry blogger with the site View from the Wing.

    At the same time, for airlines based in the United States, the marginal gains in international markets may be greater than in the domestic market. “The domestic market is mature, and profitable opportunities for growth are limited, though not nonexistent,” Mr. Leff said. He believes demand for flights like United’s new Cape Town route will come primarily from passengers based in the United States.

  • Washington Post: Jokes help Southwest Airlines relate to customers as people, making travel better for everyone

    “When you search for flight-attendant announcements, most of the funny ones tend to be Southwest,” says Gary Leff, author of the travel blog View From the Wing and a loyalty marketing consultant. A frequent Southwest flier, Leff captured one such moment in August, when a gate agent sang “Thank You for Flying Southwest” to the “Golden Girls” theme song as passengers got off the plane in Phoenix.

    …“People feel a little bit more human when they’re being related to as people, versus an assembly line, where people feel sometimes like self-lugging cargo,” Leff says. “It’s not a conscious thought that fun flight attendants are why I fly Southwest, but it contributes to the general zeitgeist that you’re sort of not the enemy. Which is especially helpful for an airline that is seen as no-frills.”

  • Marriott purchased the W New York Union Square and plans to make it the brand’s new flagship It’s going to take a lot of work to get there.

  • Ways to get more from your vacation dollars when spending more gets you more, when to buy your plane ticket, why you get a better deal on a longer stay – and more.

  • Jamie Dimon’s name on a card that’s not from Chase..?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I find both Gary’s post and the linked press release confusing. W is already a brand owned by Marriott, and for those who don’t know anything about the business side of operating a hotel, this announcement makes it look like Marriott is buying the W from itself. Heck, the linked press release doesn’t even mention the seller’s name, which I find odd.

  2. @Dan

    The W Union Sq. was owned by Dubai World/LEM Mezzanine which in bankruptcy was sold to Host Hotels. Host Hotels is a franchisee that owns multiple hotels with multiple brands. Marriott International just purchased the W Union Sq from Host Hotels. Host Hotels owns 82 hotels of various brands. Host itself was purchased by Marriott in 1982. In 1993, the Marriott family split their company into Marriott International and Host Marriott Corp. At that time Host Marriott still owned restaurants. In 1995, the restaurants were spun off as Host Marriott Services Corporation, which is now HMS Host. Most recent name change was Host Marriott Corp. to Host Hotels and Resorts, in 2006. Confused yet?

    This is the thing. It is still mostly owned by the Marriott family. So, yes you are right that the hotel appears to have been purchased from itself. The Marriotts split owning hotels and running hotels into 2 companies. I am guessing that the type of renovations that they want to do to this W Union Sq. is far more costly than what they can demand of a franchisee.

  3. It’s like me selling my car to my daughter even though I am still paying for oil changes. But she keeps up with them and manages her own gas budget, and decides how to make it last until the end of the month. She can also sell her computer- even though I paid for it- but has to make payments out of her allowance.
    Because otherwise she will just go along with credit card companies who get her in debt the day she graduates…

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