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A BRIEFING FOR MAY 21 TO JUNE 4, 2009
By Joe Brancatelli

· Southwest Airlines Will Fly From Milwaukee, Too
· Absolutely, Positively the End of Adam's Mark
· British Airways Will Launch Flights From Las Vegas
· Second Bag: $25. One-Week Delivery: Priceless.
· Worst for Bumping? Delta, American Commuters
· LaGuardia, Philadelphia Now Have $5 Meals
· Why Is This Hotel Room An Old Airplane?


Southwest, Now in Milwaukee, Too, Steps Up Pressure on the Big Six
Southwest Airlines has announced its fourth new city this year--Milwaukee--and it's another sign that the 800-pound gorilla of discount carriers is going hard after the turf that once belonged to legacy carriers. Although Southwest didn't release details of the Milwaukee launch, the move puts it in direct competition with Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines (fka Midwest Express), now a vassal of Northwest Airlines, a division of Delta Air Lines. AirTran is also fighting hard for a position in Milwaukee, which has a small local market and a secondary function as a less stressful alternative for travelers based in the suburbs north of Chicago/O'Hare. Besides Milwaukee, Southwest launched flights into Northwest's Minneapolis hub earlier this year. Flights to New York/LaGuardia begin next month and service into Boston/Logan starts in August. Most interesting of all, Southwest is pulling off this big-city expansion in the midst of a 4 percent systemwide reduction of flights. The strategy Southwest is employing, for lack of a better term, can be called "prime time." By the fall, an astonishing 86 percent of its flights will operate between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. And in August, it will drop 85 existing flights, most of them during less productive and profitable off-peak hours. In Raleigh-Durham, for example, the cutbacks affect one flight a day in the Philadelphia, Chicago/Midway, Orlando and Nashville markets. And in Nashville, one flight a day is being trimmed on nine routes.

Absolutely, Positively the End of Adam's Mark
The slow disintegration of the once-formidable Adam's Mark chain is almost complete. The two remaining properties--in Buffalo and Indianapolis--are now on track for brand changes. In Buffalo, the 464-room Adam's Mark was sold in February for the second time in as many years. Now it is getting an incentive package from Buffalo-area authorities and the new owners say some of the cash will be used to upgrade the hotel to the physical standards of the Crowne Plaza chain. In Indianapolis, the 407-room Adam's Mark was sold in April, also for the second time in as many years. The previous owners never completed an upgrade program for the 35-year-old hotel, but the new owners say the property will be improved and rebranded in the next few months. Speaking of reflaggings, the former Holiday Inn in Trevose, Pennsylvania, has undergone a $4 million renovation and has emerged as the 214-room Crowne Plaza Philadelphia-Bucks County. A 150-room Hilton Garden Inn has opened in Yuma, Arizona.

Somebody New (BA) Really Wants to Fly Into Las Vegas
In the midst of Las Vegas' worst tailspin in decades--hotel occupancy rates have plunged 20 percent and new projects have been delayed or abandoned in mid-construction--at least one airline senses opportunity. British Airways says it will launch flights to Las Vegas from London/Heathrow beginning on October 25. BA will use Boeing 777s configured with business-class, premium-economy and coach cabins. Philadelphia and New York/LaGuardia now have $5 menu-item programs at some of their food-service outlets. About 50 restaurants are offering specials under the banner of Wow! $5 Chow! The grub ranges from a chicken sandwich and a large beverage at Chick-Fil-A in Philadelphia to dessert and coffee at Todd English's Figs in LaGuardia. Hungry Philadelphia flyers can check out participating restaurants here while New York foodies can check the LaGuardia list here.

Second Bag Fee: $25. One-Week Delivery Time: Priceless.
Just in time to ruin a summer holiday: The U.S. dollar is crumbling again against major foreign currencies. This week it dropped to $1.60 against the British pound and $1.40 against the euro. And the Canadian dollar has strengthened to nearly 90 cents against the greenback. All of those rates are better than last summer, of course, but at multi-month lows after recent highs in the late fall. Here's another low point in the airline game of charging for luggage. On its New York-Grenada and New York-Barbados runs, Air Jamaica now charges $25 to check a second bag. What do you get for the $25 fee? One-week delivery. Seriously. Air Jamaica says the second bag may not travel on the same flight with you and might not arrive for a week. Plus you get to schlep back to the airport to pick up the second bag when Air Jamaica gets around to delivering it.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Fighting a steep decline of passengers on its Air Shuttle routes between New York/LaGuardia, Boston and Washington/National, Delta Air Lines has cut some one-way fares as low as $129. A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled that the former majority owner of defunct Aloha Airlines cannot bid on the carrier's name. The company, Yucaipa, had agreed to lease the name to go!, a commuter airline owned by Mesa Airlines. ... I'm sure this will shock and surprise you: The airlines with the worst rates of bumping are commuter lines tied to the nation's two largest major carriers. Atlantic Southeast, with 3.94 involuntary denied boardings for every 10,000 passengers, and Comair (3.17) fly for Delta. American Eagle (3.14) is owned by and flies for American Airlines. American AAdvantage has ended the practice of free stopovers on most of its roundtrip awards. The rule change was quietly slipped into AAdvantage's terms last week while American was trumpeting its introduction of one-way awards.

Really, Why Does My Hotel Room Have to Be An Airplane?
I dunno, folks, I spend enough time on planes. I really don't want my hotel to be built from one. Yet it's all the rage in lodging circles these days. Down on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, the Hotel Costa Verde has just opened what it calls the 727 Fuselage Suite. As you can see, it is what it claims to be: a hotel suite carved out of a 1960s era Boeing 727 that once flew for South African Airways and Avianca Airlines. And just outside of Arlanda Airport in Stockholm is the Jumbo Hostel, which has carved 25 guest accommodations out of an old Boeing 747 that once flew for Singapore Airlines and Pan Am.
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 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.