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A BRIEFING FOR OCTOBER 16 TO 30, 2008
By Joe Brancatelli

· Doubletree Extends Its Branches to Europe
· Southwest Fills a Hole: Minneapolis-St. Paul
· Hotshot Indian Carriers Get a Dose of Reality
· Here Come Two More New Airport Terminals
· Icelandair Will Add a Premium Economy Cabin
· Virgin America Finally Allows Award Redemptions
· Don't Forget Daylight Saving Time Starts Nov. 2


Doubletree Extends Its Branches to Europe
When U.S.-based Hilton Hotels Corp. and London-based Hilton International merged back into one gigantic lodging firm several years ago after decades of corporate divorce, the company promised that its American brands would head overseas. Hilton Garden Inn has already opened several properties in Europe, so it should come as no surprise that Doubletree is now expanding on the continent, too. This week brings the news that the mid-priced, full-service chain has added branches in Milan, Italy, and Aberdeen, Scotland. The Milan hotel, a 240-room property, is newly built and located a block from the Viale Certosa in the northern reaches of the city. The Aberdeen hotel is a conversion from a British brand. The 168-room property, a few steps from the city's beachfront, is undergoing a renovation, too. And unique for a Doubletree, it features a full-service spa, indoor pool spa and sauna. A third European Doubletree, a conversion of a Kempinski property in London, is due to open soon. Meanwhile, back at home, Doubletree has opened a 168-room property in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was formerly a Clarion hotel and has undergone a $26 million renovation.

Southwest Airlines Fills a Hole: Minneapolis-St. Paul
Southwest Airlines is going to fill one of the obvious gaps in its route network next year when it adds service to Minneapolis-St. Paul. Although the airline hasn't said where it will fly, it has targeted March as the launch month for its inaugural MSP flights. And if you think this move has something to do with the pending Northwest-Delta merger and the idea that maybe Northwest's MSP hub might be somewhat more vulnerable, well, I won't argue. Almost 15 months after it launched, Virgin America is finally allowing redemptions in its Elevate frequent flyer program. A quick look at its award chart, which is based on the retail cost of a ticket, not mileage levels, shows that awards require about 45-50 points per fare dollar. So a ticket selling for $149, for example, costs 6,930 Elevate points. Porter Airlines, the Canadian carrier based at Toronto's City Center Airport, is expanding to Chicago. Flights from City Center to Midway begin November 12. Denver-based Frontier Airlines will launch commuter flights to Steamboat Springs on December 18. AirTran Airways will add Cancun to its route network next year. Flights from its Atlanta hub and Baltimore/Washington launch on February 25.

Hotshot Indian Carriers Get a Dose of Reality
Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines, two hotshot Indian airlines with global ambitions, have been forced to face the harsh realities of the nasty economic times. Kingfisher's flights between San Francisco and Bangalore, expected to launch this past summer, have been permanently shelved. And no wonder: Kingfisher's new service between London and Mumbai has averaged only a few dozen passengers per flight. On the other hand, Jet will dump its San Francisco-Shanghai-Mumbai flights in January after just a few months of operation. The two privately owned airlines, which have won raves for their sybaritic service, concluded a wide-ranging alliance this week. It includes code-sharing and as well as other cost-saving measures--and all but ends the spare-no-expenses competition between Kingfisher's flamboyant boss, Vijay Mallya, and Jet chieftain Naresh Goyal. Icelandair is launching a premium economy cabin on transatlantic flights. The service begins on November 1. Emirates has moved its flights to the United States into Terminal 3 at its hub in Dubai.

Here Come Two More of Those New Airport Terminals
After a three-week delay, JetBlue Airways is due to open its new terminal at New York/Kennedy Airport next Wednesday (October 22). You can find the details here. Meanwhile, in Raleigh-Durham, Terminal 2 is due to open on October 26. First tenants: American, United and Air Canada. Delta Air Lines is due to move a few weeks later. And there's always change at London/Heathrow. British Airways says it will move its Atlanta-London flights away from Gatwick and into Heathrow next March. Meanwhile, Air France and Delta are giving up on their joint service from Los Angeles to Heathrow. The flights were launched in the spring with great fanfare.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Clear, the security line-cut program, opened at Terminal A at Boston/Logan Airport. Terminal A is Delta's new home at Logan. American Express platinum cardholders are losing a perk: The domestic free companion airfare program ends on November 15. Bay Area diners take note: the new Michelin guide for San Francisco gives three stars to one restaurant--The French Laundry in Yountville--and awards two stars to six other dining rooms: Aqua, Coi and Michael Mina in San Francisco; Cyrus in Healdsburg; Meadowood in St. Helena; and Manresa in Los Gatos. Korean Air has changed its free checked-baggage allowance. Effective November 1, coach passengers can check two bags weighing 50 pounds each. Business- and first-class flyers continue to receive a 70-pound-per-bag allowance. Heads up: Daylight Saving Time in the United States ends at 2 a.m. on November 2. Be ready to adjust your watches, clocks and flight times accordingly.
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.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.