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 The Tactical Traveler

joe JOE BRANCATELLI'S BUSINESS-TRAVEL
BRIEFING FOR NOVEMBER 10 - NOVEMBER 24, 2005


Sound and Fury Signifying Missouri at Love Field
Nothing bores the nation more than an internecine Texas fight and that is still what the Wright Amendment, which restricts flights at Dallas/Love Field, is all about. The Senate held hearing on the 26-year-old law today (November 10) and it was more of the same: Dallas/Fort Worth-based American Airlines claims that Love Field will destroy the Western World if the Wright Amendment is repealed. And Dallas/Love-based Southwest is convinced that civilization as we know it depends on the repeal of the Wright Amendment. But all of the Senatorial sound and fury--not to mention the months of duplicitous lobbying on both sides--yielded just one change: House and Senate conferees added Missouri to the current list of seven states that can receive nonstop flights from Love Field. The Missouri exemption is attached to an appropriations bill. Who knows when or if it'll pass so, for now, it's status quo in Dallas. If you want the foaming-at-the-mouth views of both sides, surf to Keep DFW Strong, the pro-Wright polemic, and Set Love Free, the anti-Wright screed.

As the Airport Clubs Turn
As if anything about 2007 could be written in stone given its current financial situation, Delta Air Lines has informed its elite flyers that they will no longer receive free access to Delta Crown Rooms. Beginning in 2007, elite Sky Miles members will have to pay some cash or miles for membership. More immediately, however, Delta said this week that Crown Room members will be given free enrollment in the Regus Network Access program. Network Access allows Crown Room members to use business centers at 750 Regus offices around the world. … American Airlines has opened a new Admirals Club at Miami Airport. The 30,000-square-foot facility is located on Concourse D near Gate D34. … Travelers between New York/Kennedy and Logan Airport in Boston who wanted to fly the route on JetBlue Airways' new Embraer 190 aircraft during this week's inaugural got hit with delays and disappointments. Glitches plagued the 190 during its first few days in service, leading to long delays and some flights being operated with a spare Airbus A320.

Time to Play Follow the Flag--Again
What would a week be without another series of flag and brand changes at hotels around the world? Get your scorecard out. … The Le Meridien Chicago has been sold and the new owners have brought in Conrad, Hilton's luxury brand, to manage the hotel. The 311-room property on North Rush Street is now the Conrad Chicago. … The former Radisson Riverwalk hotel at 200 North Ashley in Tampa has been reflagged as the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk. The 280-room hotel recently received a $10 million facelift. … Doubletree has a new outpost: the 327-room Doubletree St. Louis. The property, two blocks from the Westport Plaza district, had been a Holiday Inn. It is currently undergoing a $5 million renovation. … The Hotel des Bergues, one of Geneva's best-known hotels, is now a Four Seasons. The 80-room, 20-suite property has just undergone 12 months of restoration. The hotel was the site of the first meeting of the League of Nations in 1920.

The Dollar Picks Up Steam in Europe and Japan
The dollar isn't exactly Almighty again, but international travelers have to be heartened by recent trends. The greenback hit a two-year high against the euro today (November 10) and is now selling for $1.17. The dollar is also holding on to its gains in Japan, closing near a 26-month high of 117.5 yen. … Northwest Airlines has doubled the fee it charges WorldPerks members when they cash a frequent-flyer award over the phone or at an airport ticket counter. The fee is now $30. Booking frequent-flyer award tickets on the NWA.com Web site is still free, however.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Is the Delta Air Lines plan to absorb Song into its mainline service just a way to cut back on Song's generous 33-inch seat pitch? Apparently so. According to an internal memo, Delta is going to reconfigure the existing Song Boeing 757s and many of Delta's older Boeing 757s with 26 first-class seats and 158 coach chairs. That might mean an industry-standard, knee-crushing 31 inches of legroom in coach. It would also mean the elimination of the closet in the existing first-class cabins. … Speaking of bankrupt Delta, it reported a $1.1 billion net loss in the third quarter. … Hertz says it has extended NeverLost, its on-board navigation service, to Europe. Beginning next week, the service will be available on Hertz vehicles in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. … And speaking of Europe, here's a shock: Alitalia registered a quarterly profit of €5 million. That hasn't happened since just after Columbus discovered America. … Two commuter carriers in Australia, Emu and Airlines of South Australia, are folding their respective tents this week. Both carriers are owned by a popular Australian entertainer. … The board of directors of Amtrak this week fired Amtrak president David Gunn. The 68-year-old Gunn has run Amtrak since early 2002. He was a hero to train fanatics and highly regarded in Congress, but he clashed with the Bush Administration and his management of Amtrak was criticized earlier this month in a report issued by the apolitical Government Accountability Office.

At Emirates, It's 400 of One, Four Hundred of the Other
Want the good news or the bad news about Emirates, the Dubai-based carrier that is among the world's most respected airlines? Let's start with the good. The airline launches its second daily nonstop flight between New York/Kennedy and Dubai next week. The November 16 launch coincides with the opening of Emirates' JFK lounge. The 11,000-square-foot club offers seating for 150, two buffets, shower facilities, free Wi-Fi and 18 workstations. It also comes with "a very nice selection of wines," says Nigel Page, who runs Emirates' operations in the United States. "I spent two days going through the choices with our people." What's the bad news? Emirates president Tim Clark says the carrier could eventually launch an 800-seat version of the gigantic Airbus A380. You'd need a lot of "nice" wine before stepping on one of those suckers…

Copyright © 1993-2005 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.