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THE BRIEFING FOR MAY 19 - MAY 31, 2011
By Joe Brancatelli
· United's Nasty Row About Boarding Rows
· Hyatt Adds Summerfield Suites in California · Hilton Opens Two New Hotels in New Zealand
· BA Cabin-Crew Dispute Ends With a Whimper
· Lufthansa Cuts Bag Allowance for Coach Flyers
· American Adds More WiFi on Domestic Fleet
· Delta Revamping Restaurant Options at MSP
A Nasty Row at United That's All About Boarding Rows
United Airlines switched to Continental's boarding procedures last week. But the brain trust at United Continental Holdings' Chicago headquarters forgot a small detail: They didn't tell United's flyers about the May 11 switcheroo. The end of United's "zone boarding" process has infuriated United flyers, partially because elite members lose some boarding status and partially because the airline didn't give a heads-up on the impending change. It's generated a lengthy thread of indignation at FlyerTalk. United didn't even get around to announcing Premier Access, the new boarding process, until yesterday (May 18). If you're flying either United or Continental, you now board this way: military; super elites (United Global Services, United 1K, Continental Platinums) and first class; business class; other United or Continental elites; then general boarding, which is back-to-front by row number. In other merger-related news:
Chase Continental credit cardholders now get free checked bags on United flights, too.
Fleet changes on some transatlantic flights begin next month. The first is a switch to a two-class Continental Boeing 757 on one of United's Washington/Dulles-Paris two flights beginning on June 9. The next switch is on Continental's Newark-Zurich route. Effective June 10, the flight will use a United Boeing 767 configured with three classes and Economy Plus. More aircraft swaps start in September.
Hyatt Bulks Up in California, Hilton Grows in New Zealand
The slow-to-grow Summerfield Suites chain from Hyatt just got a big boost in California. Hyatt has purchased three Woodfin Suites and converted them to the Summerfield brand. The properties are in Cypress, Orange County; in Emeryville, at the eastern foot of the San Francisco Bay Bridge; and in Sorrento Mesa, located in San Diego County. … Hilton has opened two properties in New Zealand. The Hilton Queenstown has 178 rooms and the 98-room Kawarau Hotel in located in the Kawarau Village complex. … The 112-room Holiday Inn Birmingham has opened in Hoover, Alabama. … A 120-room Courtyard by Marriott has opened adjacent to the new MetroMall in Panama City, Panama. … A 95-room Hotel Indigo has opened in the building that once housed the first power station in Glasgow, Scotland. … A 301-room Westin has opened in the San Isidro district of Lima, Peru.
The British Airways Cabin-Crew Dispute Ends With a Whimper
Considering that it ran for parts of the last three years, cost British Airways hundreds of millions of dollars, involved almost two dozen days of strikes and inconvenienced tens of thousands of flyers, the cabin-crew dispute ended with barely a whimper last week. The head of the Unite union accepted BA's unilaterally imposed work and staffing rules and British Airways agreed to restore the travel privileges it had taken from flight attendants. Assuming the rank-and-file agree, there'll be no more work stoppages. If anything is notable, the deal was not cut until BA chief executive Willie Walsh, who imposed the work-rules changes in 2009, kicked himself upstairs to run the newly merged British Airways and Iberia. The Unite union changed its leader, too. … JetBlue Airways and Icelandair now interline on flights. JetBlue and Icelandair connect at JetBlue's New York/Kennedy hub and at Washington/Dulles. The deal kicks in beginning June 1.
Lufthansa Cuts Baggage Allowance for Transatlantic Coach Flyers
Lufthansa has standardized its global checked-baggage rules and that will mean fewer free bags for transatlantic coach flyers and more for premium-class flyers. Effective for tickets written on or after June 1, coach passengers are permitted one free bag weighing up to 23 kilos. Business-class flyers will be allowed two bags of up to 32 kilos each. First-class travelers will be permitted to check up to three bags weighing as much as 32 kilos. In coach, checking a second bag will now cost 50 euros. … Priority Pass, the global, pan-airline network of airport clubs, has added lounges in Raleigh-Durham, Bangkok, Istanbul, Budapest and Santo Domingo. ... Delta Air Lines will revamp dining options in Concourse G of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The overhaul begins in January and will feature 12 restaurants fronted by successful local chefs, including Lenny Russo (Heartland), Doug Flicker (Piccolo), Erick Harcey (Victory 44), Ann Kim (Pizzeria Lola) and Russell Klein (Meritage).
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
United Airlines this week inadvertently revived the flight numbers of its two aircraft involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It quickly withdrew flight numbers 93 and 175 after they were assigned to Continental Airlines flights when the merged carriers began code-sharing on more of their existing services. American Airlines says it had already permanently retired the numbers 11 and 77, the designators on its flights hijacked on September 11. … Qantas is revamping its frequent flyer program. It will allow earning and burning on more flights of its Jetstar subsidiary, has added a platinum level of elite status and increased the bonus points earned on premium-class flying. More details are here. … American Airlines says that it will install GoGo in-flight WiFi service on 140 more planes, including its domestic Boeing 757s and more of its MD-80 aircraft.
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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.