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THE BRIEFING FOR AUG. 23 - SEPT. 6, 2012
By Joe Brancatelli
· What Makes You 'Unacceptable' to PreCheck?
· Chongqing: 28 Million People, Two New Hotels
· Beware of 'Carmageddon' at LAX Next Month
· Capital One Goes to the Dark Side on ATM Fees
· Lufthansa Faces Another Strike Early Next Week
· United Rolls Out Schedule for Dreamliner Flights
· They'll Huff and Puff and Blow the Truth Down...
More Tips on What Makes You 'Unacceptable' to PreCheck
Last week's column about the state of PreCheck and what it takes to make yourself acceptable to the TSA drew terrific commentary from members. One disqualifier that I should have mentioned--and that many of you know--is this: If your trip includes an international segment, you won't be chosen for PreCheck for any segment. Stupid, of course, but it has been unquestionably established that an international flight will mean no fast security clearance. We did discuss the problem that printing duplicate boarding passes can cause and there's a related issue: last-minute itinerary changes. If you change your plans within 24 hours of departure--in fact, if you book a ticket at the last minute--there's very little chance that you'll get PreCheck clearance. Some travelers think the "no chance" window is actually 72 hours wide. Then there's one area of real contention: Does using a mobile boarding pass enhance or restrict your chance of being chosen for PreCheck? There's simply no clear answer. Some of you insist that mobile boarding passes are your document of choice and you regularly get directed to PreCheck. Many of you insist using a mobile pass has foiled you every time. Hey, TSA, you listening? We're confused here. How 'bout a little guidance? We promise not to tell the terrorists.
Chongqing: 28 Million People, Two New Hotels
There are about 28 million people in the massive Southwest Chinese city of Chongqing (fka Chungking) and far too few hotels up to Western standards. That disparity is partially addressed now that both Hyatt and Radisson have opened new properties in recent days. The 321-room Hyatt Regency is located in the Paradise Walk District about 20 minutes from the sprawling city's primary commercial and industrial zone. The 308-room Radisson Blu Plaza is located in the Nan'an District and overlooks the Yangtze. ... Three new properties for the equally underserved India market this week, too. The 104-room DoubleTree Goa-Arpora-Baga is the new name of the former Riviera Da Goa hotel and is located in Arpora, Goa. Meanwhile, the 117-room Radisson Kandla has opened in the northwest seaport city in Gujarat state. And the 147-room Radisson Blu Hotel Ghaziabad has opened in the eastern part of Delhi's National Capital Region. ... The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver has joined the Marriott Autograph Collection. That means you can now earn and burn Marriott Rewards points there and your elite-status benefits kick in, too. ... Speaking of Marriott, the chain's Fairfield Inn brand has converted the 132-room former Wingate Inn in Valdosta, Georgia. ... Starwood has opened a 115-room Aloft in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.
Beware of the 'Carmageddon' at LAX Next Month
As if life on the road wasn't crazy enough, the folks on the Left Coast are planning a special event to make us totally insane. Dubbed "Carmageddon II," Interstate 405, the San Diego Freeway, will be closed on the weekend of September 28 to October 1 for a 10-mile stretch between Interstate 10 (Santa Monica Freeway) and US 101. As anyone who's flown into Los Angeles even once probably knows, that's the section of I-405 just north of LAX. In other words, potential chaos if you need access to LAX during that period. For details on the closure and other airport-related details, surf here. ... Everything old is new again at United Airlines. On November 4, United Express begins flights between Chicago/O'Hare and Jackson, Mississippi. Back in the early days of deregulation, specifically 1982, United launched ORD-JAN flights as the capstone of a promotion declaring itself the "first airline to serve all 50 states." Jackson flights lasted about as long as it took United to fire the idiot who thought the campaign was a good idea. ... Two New York airports north of Manhattan are losing service to Atlanta. Southwest's AirTran division dropped flights to Westchester this week and Delta Air Lines dumps its commuter flights to Newburgh/Stewart (SWF) on September 1. ... San Antonio gets Global Entry kiosks next week. Global Entry is the Customs and Border Protection program that allows registered flyers to bypass reentry formalities.
Capital One Goes to the Dark Side on ATM, Foreign Currency Fees
It wasn't too long ago that Capital One positioned itself as a go-to bank for international business travelers who wanted to avoid foreign-currency fees on credit card charges or ATM withdrawals. "We're trying to be the no-hassle bank," a bank spokesperson told me in a column five years ago. Not charging ATM or foreign currency fees on international transactions "is one obvious way to show people that we're not kidding." Capital One apparently doesn't mind hassling frequent flyers now, though. Anyone trying to get an online Capital One checking or savings account and an ATM card today is sloughed off to ING Direct, which Capital One recently purchased. ING has always charged the industry-standard (and rapacious) 3 percent fee for a withdrawal at an overseas ATM. Virtually all of the banking packages available from Capital One's growing bricks-and-mortar branch network also carry the 3 percent fee--plus a $2 per-transaction charge, too. And since Chase, American Express and Citi all now offer miles-and-points credit cards that waive the foreign transaction fees, Capital One's fee-free credit cards have become superfluous. In other words, time to erase Capital One from your list of flyer-friendly banks. ... Southwest Airlines pushed through a $5 per flight fare increase on flights shorter than 500 miles this week. United Airlines has been trying to stretch the fare increase by adding it to longer-haul flights, too.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Lufthansa and Star Alliance travelers take note: The German carrier's cabin crews may strike as early as Tuesday, August 28. The airline and the flight attendants have been squabbling over contracts for 18 months. ... National Car Rental has joined the Southwest Rapid Rewards plan. Travelers will receive 600 points per rental. Until November 15, however, National customers who rent for at least three days will earn triple points when they book at Southwest.com and use Contract ID 5030346. ... In case you can't wait to fly in coach on the uber-cramped Boeing 787 Dreamliners coming into the United Airlines fleet, here are the routes: LAX-Tokyo/Narita beginning on January 3; Houston/Intercontinental-Lagos beginning on January 7; LAX-Shanghai beginning on March 30; and Denver-Narita beginning on March 31. There'll also be what United calls "temporary" B787 service between Houston and Amsterdam (starting December 4) and Houston and London/Heathrow (beginning on February 4). ... Flight attendants at American Airlines voted last week to approve a concessionary contract from the bankrupt carrier. However, the carrier's pilots say they may strike if American convinces its bankruptcy judge to abrogate the existing contract. American claims any strike would be illegal.
They'll Huff and They'll Puff and They'll Blow the Truth Down...
Assuming that the big blow named Issac doesn't wipe it out, the Republican Convention in Tampa next week designates Tuesday as "We Built It" day. That's when the Republicans will take shots at President Obama's remarks that small businesses didn't build their enterprises alone. Just like legacy airlines, however, Republicans seem oblivious to optics. The GOP convention will be held at the Tampa Bay Tribune Forum, a county-owned facility built in 1996 with more than 60 percent public funds. Moreover, to make the area around the arena cute for the Republicans, the city of Tampa used $2.7 million in public funding for a "beautification" project. And lest you think it's just Republicans and legacy airlines that miss the bloody obvious, consider the Democratic Convention next month in Charlotte. It'll take place at the Time Warner Cable Arena and Bank of America Stadium. You know, facilities named after fat-cat banks and monopolistic corporations that President Obama regularly bashes in speeches.
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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.
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