THE BRIEFING FOR SEPTEMBER 6-20, 2007
By Joe Brancatelli
· Bad Summer for Flying, Good Summer for Hotels
· Miami Airport Finally Opens the South Terminal
· Delta Air Lines Dumps Flights to Small-Town USA
· Southwest Raises Fares Again, the Big Six Follow
· Bmi Upgrades in Business and Premium Economy
· New: HNL-Manila; DEN-Costa Rica; SLC-Paris
· What to Expect on the Road in September
Meanwhile, In the Wonderful World of Hotels
It's been a dreary summer for air travel around the world, but the proverbial silver lining is that there's been an unending and refreshing supply of new hotels where we camp can out in whatever style we find appropriate. In just the last few weeks, for example, Hilton has opened a 165-room Hilton Garden Inn near Dallas in Lewisville, Texas; a 210-room Embassy Suites in Montreal; and a 246-room Hilton Hotel with a covered-walkway connection to the international terminal of Vantaa airport in Helsinki. Meanwhile, Peninsula has opened a 314-room luxury hotel in Tokyo, just a few blocks from the Ginza. The Italian company that operates the much-admired Grand Minerve hotel near the Pantheon in Rome has renovated and reopened the 64-room St. George Hotel on the elegant Via Guilia. The former Charles Street Jail at the foot of Beacon Hill in Boston has gotten a $150 million, five-year remake and debuted as part of the new Liberty Hotel. And Monday marks the opening of the 169-room Radisson Edwardian New Providence Wharf in the Docklands development in London. Of course, not all is rosy, even in the hotel world. The Hilton Caracas has been transformed into the Alba, a "socialist" hotel owned and operated by the government of Venezuela. Everyone who wants to check into a politically themed hotel run by lackeys of mercurial Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez raise your hand
Miami Finally Opens Its New Terminal
It's years late, hundreds of millions over budget and almost as controversial in South Florida as the 2000 Presidential Election, but Miami International has finally opened its South Terminal. The building, which encompasses some older concourses, previously opened facilities and the new Concourse J, features vaulted ceilings and large windows. The $1.1 billion terminal covers 1.7 million square feet, has 28 gates and room for 60 restaurants and shops. Airport authorities expect the U-shaped terminal to be fully operational by mid-November. Of course, deadlines have never been well respected at MIA. The facility was supposed to open in 2002. Salt Lake City will get its first nonstop flight to Europe next year when Delta Air Lines begins daily service to Paris. But Delta's continued commitment to Europe comes at the expense of service to U.S. airports. Falling off the domestic Delta route map in recent weeks: Huntington, West Virginia; Naples and Marathon, Florida; Wilmington, Delaware; Erie, Pennsylvania; Macon, Georgia; and Binghamton, New York. WestJet has moved to Terminal 2 at Los Angeles International.
Southwest Raises Fares Again, The World Follows
Southwest Airlines has hiked fares for the fourth time this year and its Big Six competitors gleefully jumped on the bandwagon wherever they compete with the 800-pound gorilla of alternate carriers. The across-the-board fare increases on short-haul trips run between $1 and $5 each way. On long-haul flights and transcontinental flights, the hike was $10 each way. Several alternate carriers are expanding their international horizons. Hawaiian Airlines says that it will launch four weekly flights between Honolulu and Manila in March. And Frontier Airlines will begin four weekly flights between its Denver hub and San Jose, Costa Rica, beginning November 30.
What to Expect on the Road in September
Most notable this month: new transcontinental flights from Portland, Oregon. Alaska Airlines launches nonstop service to both Boston and Orlando on September 9. LAX flyers take note: New service this month includes nonstops to Oklahoma City (from Delta Air Lines) and Wichita, Kansas (United Airlines). Here's good news for Austin-area travelers: American Airlines begins a daily flight to John Wayne/Orange County and Midwest Airlines adds service to its Kansas City hub. On the international route map, Aer Lingus begins flying from Washington/Dulles to Dublin and Shannon, Ireland. Air Canada launches a nonstop flight between Las Vegas and Ottawa. And all-business-class Silverjet begins its long-delayed second daily flight between Newark and London/Luton.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Delta Air Lines says it will revive its buy-on-board food program in coach after a two-year hiatus. The airline says sales will begin on September 13 aboard transcontinental flights between its New York/Kennedy hub and Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle. A menu designed by celebrity chef Todd English will debut on longer-haul flights in November. The service will expand to flights longer than 750 miles next March. Bmi says the business-class and premium-economy cabins on its flights from Chicago/O'Hare and Las Vegas to Manchester, England, are getting an upgrade. Lie-flat beds will be installed in business class by mid-October. Seats in the premium-economy cabin will get 49 inches of legroom. That's 11 inches more than the premium-economy seats sold by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Traveling to Canada will get even more expensive now that the Canadian government will no longer offer American visitors refunds of GST tax levies. Add that to the skyrocketing value of the Canadian dollar and Canada isn't a bargain anymore. Candlewood Suites says that it has replaced bedding at 55 properties this summer. Rather than dump the old beds in a landfill, however, the chain contributed the box springs and linens to 4,300 needy families.
ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.
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This column is Copyright © 2007 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2007 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.