The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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Business-Travel Briefing for August 18-31, 2016
The briefing in brief: Time to avoid New York/LaGuardia. Delta will add suites with doors and walls to business class. A burst of hotels open in smaller markets. JetBlue bulks up in Long Beach and Delta adds flights at Boston/Logan. Air France juggles its West Africa schedule. And more.
LaGuardia Airport: Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Fly Here
Worst airport in the nation? New York's claustrophobic, congested, unlovely and unloved LaGuardia owns the title. According to Transportation Department statistics released this week, LGA arrivals in June were just 67.9 percent on-time compared to 77.9 percent at major airports nationwide. Departures ran just 73.7 percent on-time, about four points below the average. But if only traditionally tardy flights were the worst thing happening at LGA these days. As more than a few JoeSentMe members have learned these last two weeks, getting to or from LGA and its terminals has been a nightmare. The culprit? A change in ground-traffic patterns on August 7 to accommodate the first tranche of construction tied to a supposed total makeover of the airport. Hemmed in between major roadways and Flushing Bay, even the smallest change in local streets at the minuscule, 680-acre airport causes chaos. It now often takes an hour to exit the airport after your flight arrives. Worst of all, there are no public-transit alternatives. Without subway access, LGA relies on shuttles and buses, both city-operated and private, and they, too, are trapped in the traffic web. The only logical solution? Avoid LaGuardia altogether. Kennedy Airport works best if you're headed to Long Island and the southern parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Newark is a better option if your actual destination is New Jersey, Staten Island or even the West Side of Manhattan. Westchester County (HPN) works for the Bronx, the Hudson Valley and Connecticut. Good luck! You will need it.
Business Class: Follow Your Bliss and Delta Will Offer Doors and Walls
Will Allen recently mourned the loss of collegiality and sociability in premium class , so we know there's at least one traveler who'll be unhappy with the newest business class from Delta Air Lines. The carrier announced Tuesday (August 16) that its future product will be all-suite and feature full-height doors and privacy dividers between every seatbed. The all-suite arrangement will debut next fall when Delta receives the first of its Airbus A350s. There'll be 32 fully enclosed pods on each plane configured in a 1x2x1 layout. The suites will then be installed on Boeing 777s. Delta says other amenities in each suite will include: 18-inch monitors; power outlets and USB ports; custom lighting, and dedicated storage compartments for shoes, headphones and laptop/tablets. More details and first pictures are here.
Lufthansa and its pilots union have ended talks without agreement. The two sides have been talking for four years--Lufthansa wants sweeping cutbacks, especially in pension benefits--and the pilots have struck repeatedly in recent years. In other words, watch this space.
Air France is reducing flights to West Africa starting on October 30. No destinations have been dropped, but frequencies have been reduced. Check schedules carefully if you rely on the French carrier for access to Africa.
Nothing in Kingman, Barstow or San Bernardino, But There's a Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico
Another week, another insane batch of new hotel rooms around the nation. So what's different this week? A useful influx of properties in smaller markets where chain hotels still find fertile ground for expansion and we need more lodging options.
Marriott has opened a 95-room SpringHill Suites in Gallup, New Mexico. It also added Fairfield Inn branches in Alexandria, Louisiana, and Triadelphia, West Virginia. And you'll now find a 130-room Courtyard in Clifton Park, New York.
Hilton has opened outposts of its Hampton Inn brand in Morristown, Tennessee; Hammond, Indiana; Elko, Nevada; and Penn Yan, New York.
Starwood has opened a 222-room Sheraton hotel in Georgetown, Texas. It's located off Interstate 35 in a mixed-use development called The Summit.
If You Want to Find JetBlue, Come to Long Beach. 213 Is Where It Be.
Long before it switched its Southern California attention to LAX, JetBlue Airways anchored its West Coast service at Long Beach. Now the New York-based carrier is bulking up again at the pocket facility about 20 miles southeast of LAX. Beginning January 4, it will launch four daily nonstops to San Jose. And in November, JetBlue will add frequencies on its Long Beach routes to Las Vegas, San Francisco and Salt Lake City.
Boston/Logan has been picking up international carriers rapidly in recent years, but JetBlue lately has dominated the domestic route map. Now Delta is storming back to Boston. In the next several months, there'll be new flights from Logan to San Francisco and Nashville. It'll add more flights on its routes to Seattle-Tacoma, Milwaukee and Orlando. There will also be weekly and/or seasonal flights to sun destinations, including Montego Bay, Punta Cana, St. Thomas and Fort Myers.
Santa Maria Airport in Santa Barbara County, California, is losing its only traditional airline service. United Airlines is dropping its three daily commuter-jet flights to San Francisco on October 5. All Santa Maria (SMX) has left are flights from Allegiant Air.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
Jakarta Airport has a new terminal. The $560 million Terminal 3 is currently handling domestic Indonesian flights of national carrier Garuda. It'll begin accepting international traffic next month.
United Airlines has severed another tie with its disastrous Jeff Smisek era. Smisek's number two, Jim Compton, most recently executive vice president and chief revenue officer, has "retired."
Priority Pass has added two new airport clubs. The Plaza Premium Lounge in Brisbane and the Schengen Business Lounge in Krakow are both now accessible through the network.
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.