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A BRIEFING FOR APRIL 15 - APRIL 29, 2010
By Joe Brancatelli

· Do You Know the Name of Your New York Hotel?
· Midwest Airlines Disappears Into Frontier Airlines
· Shifting Service at North American Airports
· Ritz-Carlton Is Out, Renaissance Is In in Detroit
· GoGo Adds a Monthly Rate for Cross-Airline WiFi
· AirTran Continues to Grow Its Route Network
· Courtyard by Marriott Adds Two Hotels in India


Do You Know the Name of Your New York Hotel?
It's not like the news is somehow related, but there has been a shift in New York City hotel allegiances this week. And that means you may not know what hotel you're using even after you've booked it. Starwood, for example, has sold off two of its W Hotels, The Court and The Tuscany. (Old-timers might remember these hotels as Doral properties.) Both properties have become part of the newish St. Giles chain, which is based in Britain and has generally focused on budget properties. Meanwhile, another old-line New York property, the neo-Gothic Tudor, is now officially the Hilton Manhattan East. The hotel's lobby and bar have been renovated and the 300 guestrooms were refurbished last year. Across town, there's a new Wyndham hotel called the Fashion 26. The 280-room property is across Seventh Avenue from the Fashion Institute of Technology, hence the fashion orientation.

Midwest Airlines Will Disappear Into the Frontier Brand
Republic Airways, the regional carrier that bought both Frontier Airlines and Midwest Airlines out of bankruptcy court last year, has decided to combine the two operations. The Midwest name will be dropped and all service will be flown under the Frontier brand. The process will take up to 18 months and apparently retain just one of Midwest's in-flight service standards: the chocolate-chip cookies. Republic claims Midwest's Milwaukee hub will remain as will its Kansas City focus city. The existing Frontier Airlines is based in Denver. AirTran Airways continues to expand, fueled mainly by grants and underwriting support from the cities being added to the carrier's route map. AirTran begins flights to Huntsville, Alabama, on May 27. There'll be daily flights to Baltimore/Washington and Orlando. AirTran will also add four weekly flights between its Atlanta hub and the resort/gaming community of Tunica, Mississippi. That service begins on May 6.

Shifting Service at North American Airports
Airlines continue to mix-and-match their service and schedules in an attempt to find profitable routes. US Airways, for example, is resuming Charlotte-Baton Rouge flights after a seven-year gap. The three daily flights begin June 24 and will operate with 50-seat regional jets. The airline is also launching Charlotte-Puerto Vallarta flights using Airbus A319 jets on June 5. Continental Airlines will link its Houston hub with Tuxtla in the Mexican state of Chiapas on June 9. The thrice-weekly service will be operated with 50-seat RJs. United Airlines is also resuming flights to Anchorage from its major hubs. It'll offer Saturday-only flights from Chicago/O'Hare beginning May 22 and daily flights from Denver and San Francisco starting on June 9. Air Canada will resume flights from St. John's to London/Heathrow on May 27. The seasonal service will run until September 26. Off the map, however, are some other routes. Japan Airlines is dumping its flights from Tokyo to Kona, Hawaii. And Alaska Airlines will drop nonstop flights between Billings and Helena, Montana and between Eugene and Redmond, Oregon.

Detroit Says Goodbye to Ritz-Carlton, Hello to Renaissance
Ritz-Carlton is out as the manager of the luxury hotel in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. The name, the blue glasses and that pompous lion all disappear on June 2. On the other hand, the recently renovated Hotel Baronette near the Twelve Oaks Mall in suburban Novi is picking up a major brand name. The 149-room property is now a Renaissance Hotel. The hotel was built in 1990 by a Japanese developer who thought he could capitalize on the large number of Japanese nationals coming to Detroit to work in the automotive field. Speaking of Renaissance, it has also added a 366-room hotel in Moscow to its roster. It features a large convention and conference center as part of its complex. There continues to be growth in the limited-service hotel area, too. A 151-room Hyatt Place has opened in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. A 101-room Hampton Inn has opened near the Tulsa Hills Mall in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And two Courtyard by Marriott hotels have opened in India. A 164-room branch is in the commercial district of Ahmedabad and a 238-room outpost has opened at Mumbai International Airport.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
The struggling GoGo Inflight Internet service has a new angle: cross-airline monthly pricing. The new $34.95-a-month plan permits you to use GoGo on any of the 800 commercial aircraft where it is available. You can see all of GoGo's pricing details here. If you're flying to or via Germany any time soon, take note: German air-traffic controllers say they will announce details of a possible strike with just 24 hours notice. How is New York/Kennedy Airport doing now that its busiest runway is closed for renovation? According to FlightStats, JFK operated at about 60 percent on-time in March, the first month of the closure. British Airways says it now permits U.S.-bound coach passengers to take two pieces of carry-on luggage. New lounges in the Priority Pass program are located in Minneapolis (United's Red Carpet Club) and in Belfast, Glasgow, Newcastle and London/Gatwick in the United Kingdom.

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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 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.