The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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Business-Travel Briefing for October 13-27, 2016
The briefing in brief: Is Delta playing bait-and-switch games? Emirates will launch a Fort Lauderdale route. American bails on two New York State airports. Marriott is building mid-level hotels faster than any other chain. American swaps codes on domestic first class. And more.
Is Delta Playing Price Bait-and-Switch Games on Delta.com?
Two JoeSentMe members independently contacted me in recent days and asked if Delta Air Lines is playing bait-and-switch with fare displays on Delta.com. Both said they'd selected a price and then were told the fare was no longer available when they tried to book. Delta.com then offered a higher price. One member accepted the higher fare, but the other did not. "I started over and saw the same fare [$266.20] on the flight that I wanted," he explained. "I went through the process again and got the same message." What was Delta's message? "Looks like there's high demand for this flight. The originally quoted fare increased to $366.20. To book at this price, select 'continue.' " The member told me he called Delta and it honored the original price. I've tried to duplicate the situation, checking 20 routes over ten days using three browsers each time. I even switched IP addresses by searching on a hotel WiFi connection. I could never turn up a "sellout." However, I did find a reference to the situation two years ago in a Forbes.com blog post. Without being able to document a price change, everyone I talked to at Delta swatted away my inquiries and, naturally, claimed the JoeSentMe members ran into legitimate sellouts. None could explain why the "sold out" price reappeared on a subsequent fare display, however. Bottom line? Proceed with caution when booking at Delta.com. If you experience an anomaly, call and request it honor the originally displayed fare.
Emirates Will Fly to Fort Lauderdale to Link With JetBlue Hub
Emirates says its newest U.S. destination will be Fort Lauderdale. Does that surprise you? It shouldn't. JetBlue Airways maintains a hub at FLL--in fact, it's the airline's largest after New York/Kennedy and Boston/Logan--and Emirates and JetBlue are code-share partners. In fact, Fort Lauderdale is JetBlue's key connection point for its flights to the Caribbean and Latin America. Linking Dubai with Fort Lauderdale opens all of those areas to Emirates connecting passengers. Emirates says its daily flights will launch December 15 using 266-seat Boeing 777-200LRs configured with first, business and coach class.
British Airways is restoring a third daily flight between its London/Heathrow hub and Tel Aviv. The increased service resumes March 26 and will operate five times a week. But BA isn't being totally consistent. Its three Tel Aviv flights each use a different aircraft. The morning departure from London uses a Boeing 787-9; the afternoon flight uses a Boeing 777; and the restored evening departure, which arrives in Tel Aviv at daybreak, will use an Airbus A321.
Air India is a basket case of an airline, yet it seems willing to do wacky things to seem more impressive than it is. The latest: The state-owned carrier has received approval to reroute its San Francisco-Delhi flights so it can claim to offer around-the-world service. Flight 173 will soon fly eastbound over the Pacific from Delhi to San Francisco. But the return flight, Air India 174, will continue its existing routing, eastbound over the Atlantic from San Francisco to Delhi. The change is expected as early as next week.
American Airlines Tells Upstate New Yorkers: No Philadelphia for You
American Airlines continues to trim the reach of its Philadelphia hub. The latest casualties: Dash-8 commuter flights to Binghamton and Elmira, New York. Those two cities will lose AA service on February 15. That means flyers in those communities will have to switch to Delta Air Lines, the last carrier at both airports. United Airlines has been flying to Binghamton, but drops service in November.
Delta Air Lines is launching a route between Washington/National and Los Angeles. The daily nonstop, which begins on April 24, will operate with Boeing 757-200 aircraft outfitted with lie-flat seats in Delta's business class. Delta made room for the so-called "beyond perimeter" flight by dropping one of its two daily flights to its Salt Lake City hub.
Priority Pass, the global network of airline clubs, has added several notable new lounges. In Honolulu, your membership is now valid at the Hawaiian Airlines Plumeria Lounge, located at the entrance to the interisland terminal. Priority Pass also added the Aeropuertos VIP Club lounges located at nine airports in Argentina.
The Hotel Pipeline Is Clogged With Marriott Hotels
The last time anyone looked, one in three of the hotels in the nation's lodging pipeline were what the industry calls "upscale" properties. And which chain dominates? Marriott. Two brands--Residence Inn and Courtyard--sit atop the upscale development list. Which explains why so many of the hotels on this week's newbie list are from those brands. There are new Courtyard branches in Mount Juliet, Tennessee; Sedona, Arizona; and Littleton and Westminster, Colorado. And there are new Residence Inns on Clay Road in Houston and in Concord, Massachusetts.
Hyatt has opened a 300-room Hyatt Regency in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan.
Hilton continues to slap the DoubleTree name on any property willing to hand out chocolate chip cookies upon check-in. This week's conversions include "new" DoubleTree branches in Racine, Wisconsin; Lawrence, Kansas; and Arlington, Texas. All three were independent hotels until they started doling out the cookies.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
American Airlines is juggling the codes for its domestic first class cabin. On two-class domestic flights, the class designation F will be dropped and replaced by C. Effective early next year, the fare and booking codes in two-class domestic first will change, too. F (for full fare coach) will be coded J. The A class (used for confirmable first class upgrades) will become D. And the current P class (discounted first class) becomes I class. The codes on its three-class Airbus A321 transcontinental flights will not change. The changes are being made so American can begin selling its new premium economy class.
Edmonton International now has what it never knew it needed: A restaurant fronted by Wayne Gretzky, the hockey great who led the Edmonton Oilers to four Stanley Cups. The restaurant, No. 99 Wine and Whisky, is located in the departures area.
This column is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.