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THE BRIEFING FOR JAN. 27-FEB. 10, 2011
By Joe Brancatelli

· Hyatt Plants Its Brands in Several New Places
· Lufthansa Puts A380s on the SFO-Frankfurt Route
· Delta Revamping the Sky Clubs in Major Airports
· Cost of United-Continental Merger: $493M So Far
· British Airline Cabin Crews Vote to Strike Again
· The Color-Coded Terror Alert System Goes Dark
· Is That an Eskimo on Your Tail or Are You ...


Hyatt Planting Its Brand Flags in Surprising New Places
Now that it's publicly owned and armed with two focused-service brands, Hyatt is working on its last big problem: distribution. By far the smallest of the major hotel chains with just 450 or so properties, it is moving ahead with a slew of new openings. On the map now is the 455-room Hyatt Regency Tulsa, a conversion of an old Crowne Plaza. It's adjacent to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Also new: the 97-unit Summerfield Suites San Diego/Carlsbad. It's three blocks from the beach. And speaking of beach destinations, Hyatt is planning to introduce the Hyatt Place brand to Hawaii later this year. The 425-room Hyatt Place Waikiki property will be a conversion of the twin-towered Ocean Resort Hotel located on the east end of Oahu's most important tourist district. The long-established Hyatt Regency Waikiki is just a few blocks away, across the street from the busiest part of Waikiki Beach. The new Hyatt Place, which will require a substantial overhaul to meet the brand's standards, essentially faces Kapiolani Park, Waikiki's primary green space.

Lufthansa Will Put A380s on the San Francisco-Frankfurt Route
U.S. carriers have resisted the Airbus A380, which means you must book overseas airlines if you want to fly and experience the double-decked super-jumbo aircraft. And the options continue to expand. Last week, Korean Air announced it would fly the A380 to Seoul from both New York/JFK and LAX. Next week, Lufthansa begins A380 flights from New York/Kennedy to Frankfurt. And this week, Lufthansa announced still another A380 route to the United States: San Francisco-Frankfurt. The service begins May 10 on Flight 455 (from SFO) and LH454 (from FRA). South African Airways is eliminating the refueling stop on its New York/JFK-Johannesburg run. Effective May 1, flights will be nonstop in both directions. The Hilton Brussels is no more. Effective February 1, the property becomes in independent hotel named (and apparently without irony) The Hotel, Brussels. The 414-room Radisson Blu Waterfront has opened in Stockholm next to the city Congress Center.

Delta Air Lines Revamping Sky Clubs in Major Airports
Delta Air Lines has been methodically renovating its Sky Clubs ever since it concocted the name for the merged networks of Delta Crown Rooms and Northwest Worldclubs. Four get the new look this month: The Sky Club near Gate B-10 on B Concourse at Atlanta/Hartsfield; the club near the entrance of Concourses F and G at Minneapolis-St. Paul; and the club in Philadelphia. The airline has also completed the first phase of renovations at the New York/LaGuardia Sky Club. In 2011, the airline says it will also build a Sky Clubs Seattle-Tacoma and add another lounge at Hartsfield's Concourse D. Air Canada has been trying to force its commuter-carrier service back into Toronto/Island airport ever since Porter Airlines owner Robert Deluce booted them out of the terminal in 2006. (Conveniently enough, Deluce owns the only passenger terminal at Toronto/Island.) Air Canada has won the right to resume service at Toronto's close-to-downtown airport and had announced it would begin flights again next month. But guess what? It still hasn't been able to do a deal with Deluce for terminal space. So there won't be a relaunch after all, at least not in February. A Four Points by Sheraton hotel has opened at Houston/Hobby airport. The 79-room property is at 8720 Gulf Freeway. Best Western has opened a 144-room property on Flagler Boulevard, two miles from Miami International airport.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
United Continental Holdings, that oh-so-snappily-named holding company created by the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, ain't a cheap date. The company reported a staggering $493 million in merger costs for the fourth quarter of 2010. That was the first quarter the two carriers had merged financial operations. Put this one back on your radar: British Airways cabin crews have once again voted to strike in its years-long battle over new work rules and wages unilaterally imposed by BA management. The dispute caused 22 days of strikes last year, which cost the airline around 150 million pounds, more than twice the amount of annual savings that BA had hoped to garner with the new wages-and-rules regimen. No strike dates have been set. Marriott says it won't be offering adult movies in new hotels it opens. Religious groups have been pressuring hotel chains to drop X-rated fare, but Marriott's decision is more likely tied to the fact that revenue from pay-per-view flicks of all kinds is plummeting. Color-coded terror alerts, first introduced by the U.S. government after the September 11 attacks, are no more. The five-level system will be replaced by a news-based program. Rather than describe a threat by color, the new program will detail specific threats against specific segments of daily U.S. life.

Is That an Eskimo on Your Tail or Are You Just Changing Brands?
Alaska Airlines has announced the end of the Horizon Air name for its commuter-flight network. Horizon Air aircraft will adopt the Alaska Airlines name and paint scheme, including the Eskimo tail design. Unlike other carriers, who mostly farm out their commuter service to other companies, Horizon Air is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alaska Airlines' parent company. The moves are probably the forerunner to spinning off or selling the Horizon Air division and then putting Alaska's commuter service out to bid to the lowest-cost operator. That's what Continental did with its old ExpressJet subsidiary. And Delta Air Lines has already sold off ASA, one of its commuter operators. It is also desperate to dump Comair, too, but has found no takers.

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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.