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THE BRIEFING FOR JANUARY 5-22, 2012
By Joe Brancatelli
· If at First You Don't Succeed, Do It Wrong Again
· Deep in the Heart of Texas, Many New Hotels
· US Airways Adds Flights to Small Cities From DCA · Priority Club Rewards Complicates Award Chart
· Michael Symon Is Coming to Pittsburgh Airport
· American Airlines Will Cut Three More Routes
· The Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi Gets a Hotel
If at First You Don't Succeed, Throw Good Money After Bad
The new year brings news about an old concept: all-business-class airlines. You'd have thought investors had given up on all-business-class service after three failed start-ups between the United States and London (MaxJet, Eos, Silverjet), after an Italian carrier failed to get traction on a New York-Milan all-business-class route and now that British Airways-owned OpenSkies has shriveled to a single route. But I guess a new year also brings new hope because at least two firms are going to try all-business-class flights again. Hong Kong Airlines says it will launch all-business-class service between London/Gatwick and Hong Kong this spring. Airbus A330s will be configured with 116 seats. Thirty-four chairs will be configured 1-2-1 in a Club Premier cabin. They will recline into fully flat beds and offer 15.4-inch video monitors. There will also be 82 Club Classic cradle seats. They will offer 51 inches of legroom and 10.4-inch monitors and will be configured 2-2-2. Plans from the other start-up, Odyssey Airlines, are much sketchier. It claims it will offer two daily flights between London/City Airport and New York using new Bombardier CSeries jets. When would Odyssey start flying? It won't say, but Bombardier says the new CSeries aircraft won't even be ready until late next year.
Deep in the Heart of Texas, a Bunch of New Hotels
There are so many new properties to mention this week that I won't even try to put the flood of new rooms into perspective. There's just enough room to tick off the openings themselves. ... In Texas, there's a new 154-room Hilton Garden Inn near Interstate 10 in central El Paso; a 118-room Marriott Residence Inn in Irving, about two miles from the outer edge of huge Dallas/Fort Worth Airport; and an 82-room Marriott SpringHill Suites in Woodway, about 10 minutes from Waco. ... Meanwhile, Hilton opened a 96-room Homewood Suites in the Boston suburb of Canton and Marriott opened a 64-room TownePlace Suites in Vincennes, Indiana. ... Internationally, the first Hampton Inn in India is opened. The 72-room hotel is in Vadodara. Courtyard by Marriott has opened a 171-room property in Moscow near the Paveletskaya railway station. Marriott has also opened an 80-room Residence Inn in suburban Manama, the capital of Bahrain. ... If all that is not enough, there's a slew of reflaggings. ... The former 190-room Holiday Inn two blocks from Brownstone University in Raleigh, North Carolina, has become a DoubleTree by Hilton. So has the former 130-room Holiday Inn in Santa Fe. Meanwhile, the 520-room hotel on East Adams Street in Phoenix has converted to the Marriott chain. The property was most recently a Wyndham. Meanwhile, the former Ramada Plaza in North Phoenix has become a Holiday Inn. And the 80-room former Wingate hotel on Clairmont Road near Atlanta has become a Holiday Inn Express.
US Airways Adds Flights to Smaller Cities From Washington/National
We're still getting details of that hub-swap deal between Delta Air Lines and US Airways. With the New York/LaGuardia slots that Delta picked up in a trade with US Airways, Delta chose to double down on flights to large cities. But with the slots at Washington/National that US Airways is getting from Delta, US Airways is going small. Effective March 25, US Airways will add service from National to 11 cities: Little Rock; Memphis; Omaha; Birmingham, Alabama; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Islip, New York; Jacksonville, North Carolina; and Pensacola, Tallahassee and Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Also new are flights to Ottawa, Canada. ... Michael Symon, the celebrity chef from Cleveland who's best known for his Lola Bistro, will open his first airport operation in March. Bar Symon will be located in Pittsburgh and feature comfort food.
Priority Club Complicates Its Award Chart--and Raises Prices
Priority Club Rewards, the frequency program of InterContinental Hotels, is changing its awards chart. (View the details here.) Essentially, Priority Club has abandoned the idea of one amount of points fits all hotels in each of its brands. Each brand will now have a sliding award scale. The best-known brand, Holiday Inn Express, will cost between 10,000 and 25,000 points per night. InterContinental Hotels, the group's top brand, will cost between 30,000 and 50,000 points per night. Other chains in the Priority Club program will cost between 10,000 and 35,000 points per night. Under the arrangement, a few hotels will actually cost less to claim as a freebie. But most will increase in price. The chart goes into effect on January 18, but you can book at the old prices until March 18.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines each say they will add a $6 roundtrip surcharge to flights to and from Europe to cover the cost of the European Union's new carbon-emissions policies. Airlines are now required to pay for excess carbon emissions their flights create beyond an arbitrarily imposed level. ... American Airlines continues to downsize after its bankruptcy filing late last year. Three more routes get the ax on January 31: Los Angeles-Boise, Idaho; Chicago-Calgary and DFW-Fayetteville. ... Speaking of bankrupt airlines, Gulfstream International has changed its name to Silver Airways. Why that changes anything is anyone's guess.
I'm Leaning Toward Avoiding This New Hotel...
If you follow such things, the Capital Gate building in the Arab Emirate of Abu Dhabi leans 18 degrees and claims that is a world record for leaning towers. (I didn't even know there were other leaning towers except the one in Pisa.) And now Capital Gate has something more to "boast" about: a 189-room Hyatt. Occupying floors 18 to 33, the Hyatt says that it offers floor-to-ceiling windows in the guestrooms and suites. Which means you'll get a very skewed view of the Arabian Gulf and Abu Dhabi. And that's just what we need: more skewed views of and about the Middle East.
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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 © 2012 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2012 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.