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THE BRIEFING FOR OCTOBER 18 - 31, 2012
By Joe Brancatelli

· Marriott and Eden Roc Go to War in Miami Beach
· Delta Grows in Paris, Cuts Many Europe Nonstops
· Virgin America Shrinking This Winter to Save Cash
· Better Award Availability on AA.com, Delta.com
· More AirTran Flights Convert to Southwest Service
· Finally! An Anchorage-Reykjavík Nonstop Route
· Greatest Airline Innovation Since the Wright Bros.


Marriott and the Eden Roc Go to War in Miami Beach
The Eden Roc in Miami Beach, the mid-1950s icon next door to the equally famous Fontainebleau, is at war with Marriott, which has been managing the property as a Renaissance Hotel. The owners of the 631-room resort have tried since March to oust Marriott. Late on Sunday (October 14), however, the owners announced they had removed Marriott's management team and the Renaissance branding. They even began taking reservations at a new Web site. In court hearings on Monday (October 15), Marriott claimed the owners attempted an "egregious raid in the pre-dawn hours." A Marriott press release said they "attempted a surprise takeover by force" that only ended when Miami Beach police arrived. A New York judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the owners pending a mid-November hearing. The owners of the 21-story landmark designed by Morris Lapidus have since shut down their Web site and Marriott continues to run the property and take reservations as a Renaissance. However, the recent history of these owner-management disputes never ends well for the management firm. The root of the Eden Roc-Marriott dispute? Money, naturally. The owners believe Marriott should be doing a better job of generating profits at the resort, which reopened in 2008 after a lavish, 18-month, $200 million restoration.

Want to Fly Delta to Europe? Hope You Like Paris/CDG...
Delta Air Lines is retreating from its "we fly everywhere" in Europe strategy. Out are many nonstops from its Atlanta and New York/JFK hubs. In are more flights from its hubs and other cities to Paris/CDG, the hub Delta shares with its SkyTeam partner Air France. On March 30, Delta will add a second ATL-CDG run. It will also upgrade its existing Detroit/Metro flight to year-round service. On June 1, Delta will launch a daily flight from Newark to CDG. On the same day, it'll add seasonal service to Paris from Boston, which supplements Air France's existing flights. You'll need all those new Paris flights because Delta is pruning its European network. On October 26, it ends flights from Atlanta to Barcelona and Milan. It had previously dropped flights from ATL to cities such as Copenhagen, Moscow, Prague and Tel Aviv. The airline's JFK hub will also lose a raft of European flights this winter as routes like JFK-Rome are turned into seasonal runs. ... United Airlines says it will operate a seasonal flight to Shannon, Ireland, between June 6 and August 26. ... A route you do not want to miss: Icelandair will fly twice a week from Anchorage to Reykjavik between May 15 and mid-September.

Virgin America Will Shrink This Winter to Save Cash
Five-year-old Virgin America is finally facing reality: The airline hasn't gotten much traction with travelers and it is losing money much faster than forecast. The result: route cutbacks and layoffs. Virgin is seeking voluntary reductions in its 2,600-person staff with short-term leaves and flexible scheduling. It will also make as-yet undisclosed cutbacks on midweek and red-eye flights during the first quarter. The airline has never been profitable and expects "a tough winter," chief executive David Cush wrote to employees. ... Southwest Airlines says its next schedule, which begins in April, will have another tranche of AirTran Airways conversions. Four more stations--Charlotte; Rochester, New York; Flint, Michigan; and Portland, Maine--will switch to Southwest service. ... Speaking of Southwest, the airline pushed through a $4-to-$10 roundtrip fare increase over the weekend, just hours after an attempt by United to hike prices had failed.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
If you've read this week's Seat 2B column, you know I'm urging you to cash banked miles and look for availability on partner international airlines. Good news on that last front: American Airlines now shows award availability for Finnair and Air Berlin flights on AA.com. And awards on Korean Air are now bookable at the Delta Air Lines site. ... A new international arrivals terminal has opened at Pindling International Airport in Nassau, Bahamas. ... American Airlines seems to have turned the corner on the cancellation problem that has plagued the carrier in the last month. On-time performance is still far below average, although it climbed above 70 percent every day this week. ... Keep your eyes on this one, folks. The Tata Group, the parent company of Taj Hotels, is making a bid to add the Orient-Express lodging group to its portfolio. Tata has been circling Orient-Express since 2007. Taj manages 115 hotels, about 100 of which are in India. Among others, Orient-Express owns the Cipriani Hotel in Venice and the Hotel Ritz in Madrid.

The Greatest Airline Innovation Since the Wright Brothers
American Airlines now permits first- and business-class customers on two routes to choose their meals as many as 30 days in advance. Flyers can also reserve meals with just 24 hours notice. The routes (New York/Kennedy-Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth-New York/LaGuardia) will be joined by several other runs next month. American claims it will expand the so-called "entree reservations program" to all domestic routes in the first quarter of 2013 and to all international flights by the second quarter. The meal-choice option is in the "view reservations" section on the AA.com Web site.

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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.