The Tactical Traveler
JOE BRANCATELLI'S BUSINESS-TRAVEL
BRIEFING FOR DECEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 15, 2005
As the Texans Turns
- American and Southwest Will Fight It Out at Love Field
- The Bloom Is Already Off the US Airways Merger Rose
- What If You Started an Airline and Nobody Came?
- Six Luxury Parisian Hotels Fined for Price-Fixing
- After Confusing Us, the TSA Wants to Confuse Terrorists
- US Airways Drops Out of Amex Membership Rewards
- Frontier Will Serve LaMar's Donuts on Some Flights
The controversial Wright Amendment that limits nonstop flights from Love Field in Dallas has been amended again. President Bush signed a bill yesterday (November 30) that permits large jet flights to destinations in Missouri. Before the day was out, Dallas/Fort Worth-based American Airlines announced that it would resume flying from Love, the ancestral home and fortress hub of Southwest Airlines. American didn't announce a schedule, but Southwest announced its new Missouri flights today (December 1). Effective December 13, Southwest will fly four times daily to both Kansas City and American's shriveled St. Louis hub. Introductory fares are priced as low as $79 one-way with a 14-day advance purchase. Standard walk-up fares are $129 each way. American hasn't flown from Love since 2001.
We Lied Before, But Now We're Telling the Truth
Now that it is out of bankruptcy after spinning fanciful tales of profits and bliss about the America West merger, US Airways says it was probably all fantasy. In filings with the government, the airline says many of its pre-merger assumptions face "significant challenges." Management "cannot assure" it will achieve the $600 million in merger synergies that it once promised. "We may not perform as well financially as we expect following the merger," it added. Gee, what a surprise.
If you thought they were badly run before entering bankruptcy, you should see them now. Delta Air Lines says it has lost $1.1 billion in the first six weeks since entering Chapter 11 on September 15. Northwest Airlines, which also filed on September 15, says it has lost $346 million during its first six weeks of bankruptcy.
Aloha Airlines is cleared to exit bankruptcy as early as December 15.
Two more airlines have bitten the dust: Bali-based Air Paradise and Air Lithuania.
The Greek government says it will fold the national carrier, Olympic, for the second time. The original Olympic Airways was grounded in December, 2003. The current airline, Olympic Airlines, was then launched. Now that carrier will be downsized, reconstituted, renamed and relaunched next year.
What If You Started an Airline and Nobody Came?
Ozjet, an all-business-class carrier, launched on Tuesday (November 29). The airline is scheduled to fly eight times each day between Melbourne and Sydney, but the carrier admitted it has already cancelled some early flights because only one or two passengers appeared. Ozjet flies Boeing 737s configured with 60 seats in a 2x2 arrangement.
Mexicana didn't give us much notice, but it has launched a daily nonstop from Baltimore/Washington to Mexico City.
Aerolineas Argentinas is basically grounded because airline employees are on strike. Government efforts to end the work stoppage have failed.
Google has launched free Internet access in Terminal One at London/Heathrow airport.
Speaking of London, Eos Airlines, the all-first-class carrier that launched service last month between New York/Kennedy and London/Stansted, has switched the departure time of its Stansted-JFK flight to 6:10 p.m.
And one more London note: Virgin Nigeria has moved its three weekly flights from Lagos to London/Gatwick. The flights had been arriving and departing from Heathrow.
There'll Always Be Paris--and It'll Always Rip You Off
Six super-deluxe hotels in Paris have been nailed for price-fixing. After a four-year investigation, the French Competition Council fined the hotels a total of more than €700,000 for illegally sharing commercial information and future pricing plans. The hotels are the Crillon, Four Seasons George V, Plaza Athenee, Ritz, Bristol and the Meurice.
The Wyndham at Pittsburgh Airport has been reflagged as the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott. The 316-room hotel will undergo a renovation beginning in February.
Hyatt hotels is buying the Summerfield Suites brand and folding it into the AmeriSuites chain that it purchased earlier this year. The entire group will be rebranded Hyatt Place.
We're Already Confused. So Why Not the Terrorists?
The Transportation Security Administration is expected to announce sweeping changes to its airport security screening procedures tomorrow (December 2). The changes are expected to include a new approach to random screening, a change in pat-down procedures and the end of the ban on carrying on small scissors and tools. The New York Times reports that scissors with blades of four inches or less and tools smaller than seven inches will be permitted in carry-on bags. The TSA says the changes in the random-search and pat-down regimens are meant to make the security system less predictable for terrorists. Which begs the obvious comment: Why shouldn't the terrorists be as clueless as us frequent flyers about TSA rules?
San Jose Airport says it will adopt the privately owned Clear registered-traveler program currently operating at Orlando Airport.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
US Airways is dropping out of the American Express Membership Rewards program. The last day to convert Amex points to US Airways Dividend miles is December 31.
Delta, Continental, and Northwest have expanded their reciprocal airport club arrangement. All of the previous restrictions have been eliminated and members of any airline's club can enter the lounges of the other carriers whenever they are flying.
JetBlue Airways says it will launch six daily nonstops between Boston/Logan and Washington/Dulles on January 17.
American Airlines is imposing a $2 fee to use curbside check-in facilities at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
Frontier Airlines now serves LaMar's Donuts on some flights. The first of the cult confections to appear in-flight: Apple Spice Cake donuts.
La Dolce Vita
With an Asterisk
Another new low-fare airline, Blu-express.com, has launched in Italy. Its English-language home page promises flights to five European cities from Rome for as little as €9.99 each way. But there is an asterisk and then a line offering to "clarify the tariffs." The €9.99 price is "net" and does not include: "airport tax" of €6.21 to €8; "security charge" of as much as €8; "passenger service charge" of €7.44 to €14.52; 10 percent value-added tax; and a €13.21 supplement "for the management of payments and administrative costs." My Italian is far from perfect, but I think the proper term for this kind of pricing is brutto.
Copyright © 1993-2005 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.