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THE BRIEFING FOR LATE AUGUST, 2011
By Joe Brancatelli

· Know That Flight You Booked? Check Again.
· Another Burst of Fairfield Inns From Marriott
· DoubleTree and Courtyard Hotels Open in India
· London Gets a 'New' Airport Called Southend
· Qantas Shifts to Asia and Downgrades Australia
· Flyer Wins Right to Sue Frequent Flyer Program
· AirTran Will Fly From BWI to Aruba on Weekends


You Know That Flight You Booked? Check Again.
If you think the financial markets are on a seesaw, you might want to check your upcoming flight plans again. A flight you have already booked may have subsequently disappeared. After a big build-up earlier this year, especially on international service, the airlines are starting to pull down capacity with alacrity. Southwest and AirTran have cut some flights out of their winter schedules and last week Delta Air Lines quietly slashed its Salt Lake City hub by 14 percent. United and Continental are cutting back by about 5 percent after Labor Day. Many of the most dramatic cuts are coming on overseas routes. Some are being temporarily "suspended" and other are being reduced from daily frequency. Worst of all, especially for international flyers, the cuts are coming without warning or advance announcement. If you're wondering why airlines are cutting back, just check the seat map of most any international flight. Looking a month or two out, the planes seem empty up front. That, of course, is the proverbial kiss of death. Just this week, IATA, the industry's global trade group, reported that premium-class flyers represent just 8 percent of the traffic but a whopping 27 percent of the revenue. So it doesn't take many of us staying home to make a flight or a route unprofitable.

Another Burst of Fairfield Inns From Marriott
Marriott's entry-level lodging brand, Fairfield Inn and Suites, continues to expand its footprint in smaller markets across the country. This week's new Fairfield properties include a 105-room hotel in Kearney, Nebraska; an 83-room hotel in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, which is about 10 miles from Harrisburg Airport; and a 73-room hotel in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Fairfield also converted a 137-room former Hampton Inn located in Buena Park, California. U.S. lodging chains continue to sweep across India. DoubleTree by Hilton has opened its first hotel in India, the 196-room DoubleTree New Delhi. It's located in the Mayur Vihar district. And the 179-room Courtyard Pune City Centre is the Marriott chain's seventh property in India. Hyatt is now managing the 180-room Kilimanjaro Hotel in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The city center hotel was formerly managed by Kempinski.

London Gets Another 'New' Airport called Southend
Although most U.S.-originating flights to London now operate to Heathrow Airport, there is still some service to Gatwick, too. And British Airways flies an all-business-class service between New York and London/City Airport near the Docklands. There's also Luton and Stansted, although neither currently has regularly scheduled flights to the United States. And you might as well throw in Bristol International, about 100 miles from London. Continental Airlines flew there from Newark until last year. But, wait, there's more. Beginning in April, easyJet, a major European discounter, will begin a schedule of flights from London Southend Airport. Where the hell is that, you ask? Good question. Southend is in Essex and a railway station that opened last month connects the airport with London's Liverpool Street Station in about an hour. EasyJet's inaugural schedule will offer 75 flights a week, including service to Amsterdam, Belfast and six cities in Spain and Portugal. AirTran Airways say it'll launch weekend flights from Baltimore/Washington to Aruba beginning December 17.

Qantas Shifts Emphasis to Asia While Downgrading Australia
It won't affect U.S.-based frequent flyers, but Australia is abuzz after Qantas announced this week that it will lay off about 1,000 local workers, cut some key international routes and start two airlines based in Asia. The carriers will almost surely be staffed by lower-paid, non-Australian employees. Most shocking is Qantas' decision to turn some key Australia-to-London runs (locals call them "kangaroo routes") over to its Oneworld partner British Airways. Qantas staffers are already talking about a strike. One of Qantas' planned new lines is a low-cost carrier based in Japan and created in partnership with Oneworld ally Japan Airlines. The other airline that Qantas says it will create is a premium-service carrier based in an as-yet unknown country. Qantas management says the transformation will take place over the next five years Speaking of Asia, All Nippon Airways and AirAsia say they will also create a low-cost carrier based in Japan. That airline will be called AirAsia Japan.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
One small step for man, one giant leap for frequent flyers: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California has ruled that a traveler abruptly tossed from the old Northwest WorldPerks program has the right to sue the airline for breach of contract. S. Binyomin Ginsberg was a Platinum Elite when Northwest expelled him without explanation in 2008. Ginsberg sued, but Northwest won the first round. Earlier this month, however, the appeals court decided Ginsberg had the right to sue the airline under common contract law and sent the case back to a lower court for trial. As is often the case with airlines, Northwest argued that it is exempt from all but federal law under the terms of the 1978 deregulation act. You can read the PDF of the decision here. A London-based insurance company, Willis Group, says cyber crime has leapt 56 percent in the last year and one of the most vulnerable areas is the hospitality industry. Hotels are increasingly being targeted by hackers seeking to steal our credit card data and other personal information. Willis hopes to sell "cyber liability" insurance to hotels, of course, but we're the ones whose data is at risk.

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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.