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THE BRIEFING FOR JANUARY 20-31, 2011
By Joe Brancatelli

· American, Oneworld Play Catch-Up in the Pacific
· Seven New Airport Lounges for Priority Pass
· Hoteliers Move Pieces Around Global Chess Board
· Korean Air Will Fly A380s From New York and LAX
· Continental Airlines Will Launch a Route to Haiti
· More Airlines Shift Terminals at Raleigh-Durham
· Value Checked Bags? Don't Fly American Eagle


American and Oneworld Rush to Catch Up Across the Pacific
American Airlines, U.S. anchor of the lagging Oneworld Alliance, is rushing to catch up on routes across the Pacific. The moves started last month when Oneworld member Cathay Pacific announced that it would launch flights to Hong Kong from American's Chicago/O'Hare hub. Daily flights start in September. Then last week came news that American and Oneworld member Japan Airlines will share counter and gate space at American's Terminal 3 at O'Hare. Beginning March 27, the carriers will also align schedules and do more code-sharing on flights that connect to and from Japan. That should reduce overall travel time for itineraries that include AA and JAL flights. The next step may be the most surprising: Oneworld member Qantas is dropping its San Francisco-Sydney flights and replacing them on May 16 with a Dallas/Fort Worth-Sydney route. The service will start four times weekly using a three-class Boeing 747-400. DFW, of course, is American's largest hub. To tart up the new DFW service, Qantas also plans to put its QF code on American flights to 16 destinations in the United States and Mexico.

Seven More Lounges for Priority Pass Members
I've said it about a hundred times, but Priority Pass membership is the single best investment you can make in your personal comfort and productivity on the road. The global airport lounge network already boasts entry privileges at more than 600 clubs around the world and it has just added seven more intriguing new options. Priority Pass members now have use of the International Lounge at Terminal 2 in Las Vegas; the British Airways lounge in the Midfield Terminal at Washington/Dulles; and Plaza Premium lounges located in Terminal 3 at Toronto/Pearson and USA Terminal 1 at Vancouver International. There are also new lounges in Beirut; Lugano, Switzerland; and Wellington, New Zealand. Continental Airlines and US Airways passengers take note: On Sunday (January 23), the airlines are moving to Concourse D of Terminal 2 at Raleigh-Durham Airport. . LAX travelers take note: A company called Shuttle2LAX says it now offers door-to-door, shared-ride airport transfers for just $20 one-way. The company says it can offer the low price by purchasing unused seats on existing LAX shuttle-van operators. The company claims the $20 price is valid as far north as Burbank, as far south as Newport Beach and as far east as Anaheim and Pasadena.

Hoteliers Move Pieces Around the Global Chess Board
Got your hotel scorecard out? Good, 'cause it gets harder and harder to keep track of the hotel openings, renovations and reflaggings that happen every week. In Dubai, for example, Ritz-Carlton has opened a 341-room property in the Dubai International Finance Center. Hilton Garden Inn has opened a 154-room outlet on the banks of the Vistula River near the "old town" center of Krakow, Poland. Shangri-La has reopened the beachfront Rasa Sentosa Resort in Singapore after an $80 million renovation. After a $13 million spruce-up, InterContinental has slapped its Crowne Plaza name on the old Quality Inn near Charleston Airport in South Carolina. The Liberty Hotel in Boston has joined the Starwood Luxury Collection. And the Raphael Hotel in Kansas City aligns with the Marriott Autograph Collection beginning on February 1. That means both hotels will now offer frequent stay points in the respective chains' programs.

Korean Air Will Fly A380s From New York and Los Angeles
Korean Air has set the date for its Airbus A380 flights to the United States. Effective August 2, Korean Air will use the super-jumbo three days a week on its route to New York/Kennedy. The A380 flights go daily on September 1. Then, on October 1, Korean's Los Angeles route will get daily A380 service, too. Aer Lingus says it will move its flights to and from the United States into Dublin's new Terminal 2 on February 22. One benefit of the move: U.S.-bound travelers will clear all U.S. Immigrations and Customs formalities before departure at special stations in Terminal 2. The process is already in operation at Shannon, Ireland's other international airport. Here's a route announcement you might not have expected: Continental Airlines says it will launch flights from its Newark hub to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, on June 9. The airline will use 160-seat Boeing 737-800s on the route.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Airlines this week pushed through their third fare increase in the last month. Structural prices increased from about $5 to $15 one-way. What's driving the increases? Oil prices, which have surged above $90 a barrel in recent days. Don't let the talking-head experts tell you business-class traffic has rebounded. IATA, the global airline trade group, says that premium-class traffic is still 12 percent below its peak in February, 2008. Aer Lingus flyers take note: An ongoing dispute between the Irish airline and its flight crews has led to several cancellations and long delays this week on the carrier's routes between Ireland and New York, Boston and Chicago.

Just Because We Charge for Bags Doesn't Mean We'll Deliver Them
The latest Air Travel Consumer Report from the Department of Transportation features a familiar name at the bottom of the nation's baggage-handling chart. According to the results for November, 2010, the latest available, American Eagle, the commuter carrier wholly owned and operated by American Airlines, is racking up six reports of "mishandled bags" per 1,000 flyers. That's twice the industry average. Worse, Eagle's performance is 10 percent below its industry-trailing record of last year. As you will surely recall, it was the folks at American Airlines who began the practice of charging for checked bags. But, you know, they never actually promised to deliver them once they started charging for 'em.

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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 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.