The Tactical Traveler
JOE BRANCATELLI'S BUSINESS-TRAVEL
BRIEFING FOR AUGUST 17 TO AUGUST 31, 2006
Comings, Goings and Hubbings
- International Route Shifts at United, American and Delta
- Air Canada Is Slapped Down at Toronto Island--Again
- Hotel Developments in Major Business-Travel Cities
- The Facts About This Week's Airline-Security Stories
- Boeing Is Giving Up on Its In-Flight Internet Service
- Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways Stumble a Bit
- Snakes on a Plane: TSA Says That It's Not to Blame
Strapped for cash and with no ability to purchase or lease new planes for an expansion, United Airlines is furiously juggling its international line-up. It will drop two high-profile routes from New York--Kennedy-London/Heathrow and Kennedy-Tokyo/Narita--in the fall. The planes will then be re-allocated to a new route between its Washington/Dulles hub and Narita and the restoration of its dormant San Francisco-Taipei nonstop. The carrier will also return its San Francisco-Seoul service to year-round operation and add several weekly flights on the San Francisco-Hong Kong route.
United did get cash--upwards of $21 million--for its exit from the New York-London market. It has sold the rights to Delta Air Lines. Bankrupt Delta, which is in the midst of a breakneck expansion at Kennedy, says it will launch daily flights from JFK to London's Gatwick Airport in the fall.
Meanwhile, American Airlines is trying to shrink itself to profitability. The carrier's seasonal flights between its Chicago/O'Hare hub and Glasgow, Scotland, will be gone forever on September 30. On October 27, American dumps flights between its Dallas/Fort Worth hub and Osaka, Japan. The next day, American's San Jose hub loses flights to Tokyo.
Southwest and JetBlue Don't Always Get It Right
Even the 800-pound gorilla of discounters, Southwest Airlines, can't win them all. A federal judge has refused to stop a Web site called BoardFirst.com from charging customers to obtain an "A" boarding card.
JetBlue Airways hasn't abandoned too many routes in its six-year history, so it's always notable when they fold them. Effective November 13, the carrier will drop its flights from Burbank to both Las Vegas and Orlando.
Alaska Airlines continues to expand in the crowded California Corridor. Effective October 29, it will launch four daily nonstops between San Diego and San Francisco. That puts Alaska in direct competition with United Airlines and with Southwest, which flies between San Diego and Oakland.
Air Canada Gets Slapped Down at Toronto Island--Again
Air Canada got booted from Toronto Island Airport earlier this year when the entrepreneur who owned its terminal decided to launch his own airline and terminated Mapleflot's lease. And before the new carrier, Porter Airlines, launches, Air Canada has been intent on returning to Toronto Island. It struck a deal to sublease a new terminal and announced flights to Montreal and Ottawa effective August 28. But that deal has now gone aground since Toronto Island's operating authority has rejected the sublease deal. That leaves Air Canada without terminal space--again.
A new terminal has opened at Curaηao International Airport.
The ailing Laptop Lane chain of airport business centers has been sold again, this time to Regus, the time-share office folks.
Important Hotel Developments Around the Nation
One of Southern California's most recognizable landmarks, the circular hotel tower in Brentwood, has reopened as the Hotel Angeleno. The 209-room property has received a multi-million renovation and is now managed by Joie De Vivre, the well-regarded boutique operator based in San Francisco.
In New York, the Gramercy Park Hotel has been renovated and reopened as a boutique property by Ian Schrager, the hotel entrepreneur. The 80-year-old property at 1 Lexington Avenue is adjacent to New York's only private park.
In Washington, the St. Regis hotel at 16th and K Street is closing at the end of August for a 10-month restoration.
In Chicago, the Doubletree Guest Quarters at 198 E. Delaware Place has received a multi-million-dollar makeover and is now the Hilton Suites.
Foodies take note: Joel Robuchon, who is the most respected chef of the last generation, is opening one of his L'Atelier restaurants in New York. The dining room is housed in the Four Seasons hotel and opens on September 4. Reservations are only available for a 6 p.m. seating. Everything else is on a first-come, first-served basis as befits Robuchon's comparatively casual concept for L'Atelier.
And Now the Facts, Please
The wraparound television coverage yesterday (August 16) of the diversion of United Flight 923 to Boston naturally generated a hailstorm of misinformation. For the record, according to affidavits filed with a Boston court and FBI comments today, the woman who caused the diversion, Catherine Mayo, is 59 years old. She was carrying a screwdriver, an unspecified number of cigarette lighters, matches, hand lotion and a bottle of water that was not supplied by the flight crew. The cabin crew said she passed them peculiar notes, made odd comments and worried the captain, who had spoken to her personally. She also urinated in an aisle. She was then restrained in plastic handcuffs and was required to sit in the galley area for the rest of the flight.
Meanwhile, today's security story involves tiny Tri-State Airport in Huntington, West Virginia. A woman of Pakistani descent was apprehended with four bottles filled with liquid as she attempted to board a flight. The contents of two of the bottles tested positive for explosives in two separate tests. But after further testing, it was determined that the liquids in the bottles were cosmetic products.
And in a case of art--okay, schlock entertainment--imitating life: Snakes on a Plane opens at movie theaters nationwide tomorrow after more than a year of Internet hype. The TSA has already denied that the snakes were brought aboard in carry-on bags.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
As we warned in a column in June, Boeing has decided to kill its money-losing in-flight Internet service called Connexion.
The State Department now issues electronics-aided passports to all applicants. A computer chip embedded in the cover of the new passport holds electronic copies of your photo, signature and personal information.
Cendant, the gigantic travel and services conglomerate, has broken itself up. That means a spin-off of two car rental companies--Avis and Budget--into one new firm. It also means a disposition of the huge lodging division. That new company is called Wyndham Worldwide and it includes many lower-priced, limited-service hotel brands such as Howard Johnson. A third travel-related part of the company, which offers reservations services and Web sites such as Orbitz.com, has been renamed Travelport and sold to an investment group.
Copyright © 1993-2006 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.