The Tactical Traveler
JOE BRANCATELLI'S BUSINESS-TRAVEL
BRIEFING FOR JUNE 8 TO JUNE 22, 2006
Northwest Airlines Heads Back to The Brink
- Northwest Airlines Heads Back to The Brink (Again)
- JetBlue Looks for Gold in Nashville and Washington
- The Black Car Power Play at Detroit/Metro
- Southwest Expands Flights From Denver (Again)
- Get the Hotel Brand Name Scorecard Out (Again)
- Alaska Airlines Dumps Cattle-Car Coach Boarding
Flight attendants at Northwest Airlines overwhelming rejected a concession-laden contract this week and that puts the bankrupt carrier right back at the brink of chaos. Northwest and the flight attendants will make their respective cases in front of the airline's bankruptcy court judge tomorrow afternoon (June 9). Northwest management will again press for the right to cancel the flight attendant's existing contract. The flight attendants say they will strike if the judge allows Northwest to cancel the contract or if Northwest unilaterally imposes new contract terms. For its part, Northwest management also wants something unprecedented: a restraining order barring flight attendants from striking even if the existing contract is cancelled and new terms are unilaterally imposed. And the flight attendants' own house is in disarray since voting has started on whether the existing union will be replaced. Meanwhile, all of Northwest's deals with other employee groups are on hold until and unless the flight attendants agree to new terms. What will happen is anyone's guess. Northwest, which last summer took a mechanics strike that has subsequently devastated its on-time performance, says it will not negotiate further with flight attendants. The flight attendants also seem determined: 80 percent rejected the new deal.
JetBlue Looks for Gold in Nashville and Washington
JetBlue Airways is finally convinced that there's no real profit in continuing to pour flights onto its transcontinental service. So the carrier's two newest routes from its New York/Kennedy hub target cities that have long suffered from irrationally high fares. On August 17, JetBlue will launch six daily flights on the JFK-Washington/Dulles route. Introductory prices are just $39 each way; regular fares range from $50-$145 each way. Two weeks later, JetBlue will launch three daily flights on the JFK-Nashville route. Introductory prices there are $69 each way; regular fares will be $89-$299 each way. Both routes will be served with JetBlue's 100-seat EMB-190 aircraft. Separately, JetBlue will launch a daily nonstop between Syracuse and Orlando on July 20.
Southwest Airlines continues to bulk up at Denver, where it resumed service five months ago after a long absence. Beginning July 17, Southwest will launch daily flights to Houston/Hobby. On August 4, it will launch four daily flights to Kansas City and daily nonstops to both Orlando and Nashville. Separately, Southwest will also connect its Baltimore/Washington hub with Oakland, a hub for ATA Airlines, which is now a virtual Southwest subsidiary. Beginning August 17, Southwest will fly a daily nonstop between the two cities. Introductory price: $99 each way.
The Black Car Power Play at Detroit/Metro
Detroit/Metro has struck a preferred deal with a limousine service called Checker Sedan. The new deal starts July 1 and Detroit airport officials have apparently decided to try to squeeze out Checker's competition. For starters, it will charge other black-car companies as much as $10 more for the right to pick up passengers at the airport, virtually guaranteeing that those firms will have to charge passengers more than Checker's rate. Moreover, the airport wants to bar drivers of other black-car services from the baggage-claim areas. That will force arriving passengers at DTW to search for their drivers outside the terminals and across the street. Checker's competitors have filed suit to stop the changes and Detroit/Metro officials say they will refrain from imposing the new meet-and-greet restrictions until at least June 26.
A new terminal has opened at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport in Pennsylvania. It offers a business center with complimentary workstations and free Wi-Fi access.
United Airlines and all of the Star Alliance carriers except Air New Zealand now operate from the South Wing of Terminal 1 at Tokyo's Narita Airport.
American Airlines has expanded its remote baggage plan, which is called AAdvance Bag Check. For a fee of about $10, American passengers at several dozen hotels in Orlando, Boston, Dallas and Honolulu can drop checked bags in the lobby and obtain boarding passes. The service is also available at McCormick Place in Chicago, Moscone Center in San Francisco and aboard some cruise ships.
Get the Hotel Scorecard Out Again
There's been another frenzy of hotel reflaggings, so if you don't want to show up at a hotel only to find that it's gotten a new name and a new frequent-guest program, get your scorecard out.
Radisson takes over from Holiday Inn at the 532-room Martinique Hotel in New York's Herald Square.
Radisson is also supplanting Holiday Inn at two properties in Fort Worth, the 247-room hotel formerly known as Holiday Inn North and the 188-room hotel that used to be called the Holiday Inn Fort Worth South.
Doubletree has put its flag on the 190-room Claremont Inn, located on Route 66 in Claremont, California.
The old Hilton Kauai Beach Resort on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai is once again flying the Hilton flag. Well, sort of. The beachfront property, which has lately been called the Kauai Beach Resort, has been advertising itself as a Hilton again. But the Hilton Web site says the property won't officially reenter the chain until August.
And speaking of Hawaii and confusion, the W Hotel Honolulu, which was due to drop the W moniker on June 1, is still operating as part of the chain. The property will drop the W name after the hotel's sale to new owners is complete.
Speaking of new ownership, the investment arm of the Dubai royal family has purchased an old office building near New York's Times Square. It was once the Hotel Knickerbocker, the original home of the famous Maxfield Parrish "Old King Cole" mural that now resides at the St. Regis. The new owners say they will restore the building and reopen it as a luxury hotel. It last functioned as a hotel in 1921.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
A division of JetBlue Airways and a company called AirCell last week won the government auction of in-flight frequencies that have been used by Verizon Airfone. Both companies are likely to use the frequencies to offer Internet access to passengers on domestic flights.
Japan Airlines will join the Oneworld Alliance and Portugalia will join Skyteam.
US Airways says it will stop serving peanuts due to the severe allergic reaction of some flyers.
United Airlines will drop flights from Chicago/Midway in September. As previously reported, American Airlines is also bailing on Midway. Both carriers have a hub at Chicago/O'Hare.
Delta Air Lines has raised its transatlantic fuel surcharge by $10 each way.
Alaska Airlines has dumped its cattle-car boarding process for coach passengers. Non-elite coach flyers now board by rows in two groups. ... Omni Hotels is offering 500 frequent-flyer miles for the first stay and 1,500 miles for the second stay at any Omni property until July 31. Advance registration is required.
Go!, a division of Mesa Airlines, the commuter carrier, is scheduled to launch inter-island service in Hawaii tomorrow (June 9). It has recently been selling $39 advance-purchase fares, but this week offered a few tickets as low as $19 each way.
Copyright © 1993-2006 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.