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THE BRIEFING FOR NOVEMBER 1-15, 2012
By Joe Brancatelli
· International Work-Around for Call-Center Chaos
· Alaska Air Cozies Up to Delta With SEA-SLC Flights
· Hilton Bulks Up in Canada, Hyatt Grows in India
· Andaz Opens in a Former Library in Amsterdam
· American Will Add Four More International Routes
· Malaysia Airlines Will Join Oneworld Next Year
· Tropicana Las Vegas Adds DoubleTree Branding
International Work-Around to Beat Airline Call-Center Chaos
All travel crises generate the same complaint: Airline call centers are clogged and there are often multi-hour waits to reach a reservation agent to change an itinerary. As I explained in this week's Seat 2B column, the problem is the carriers' decision to close domestic reservation centers and shrink their respective workforces. But there's a work-around that savvy business travelers frequently use: Call one of your airline's overseas reservations offices. Airlines don't widely publicize the contacts in each country where they operate, of course, but the numbers are buried deep on each carrier's Web site. Word to the wise? Surf to the following pages now and print the numbers. United's worldwide contact numbers are listed here. Delta's global call centers are listed here. You'll find the American Airlines contacts here. US Airways' global contacts are listed here. And, yes, virtually all of the overseas call centers are staffed by English-speaking employees.
Alaska Air Cozies Up to Delta (Again) With Seattle-Salt Lake Flights Alaska Airlines dominates Seattle-Tacoma and it and Delta Air Lines have been playing footsie in Seattle for years. The cooperation has increased dramatically lately, especially with Alaska and Delta's decision to work together on Delta's new routes to Asia from Seattle. Now the logical next step: Alaska Airlines says it will launch twice-daily flights between Sea-Tac and Delta's hub in Salt Lake City. The new route begins next April. ... The TSA says that it has opened PreCheck facilities at Checkpoint 3 at Honolulu International. ... Virgin Atlantic flights to and from Los Cabos in Mexico have moved to Terminal 2. The airline had been using Terminal 1.
Hilton Bulks Up in Canada While Hyatt Gets Bigger in India
Hilton adds three hotels in Canada thanks to a deal with a local company called SilverBirch. Hilton will convert and divide SilverBirch's Mayfield Suites in West Edmonton into two properties: a 238-room Hilton and a 123-suite Home2 Suites. Meanwhile, SilverBirch's 140-room Regina Inn will be reflagged as a DoubleTree hotel. ... Speaking of reflagging, Hyatt gets five more hotels in India thanks to a deal with Ista Hotels. The five Ista properties--in Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Amritsar--will become Hyatt hotels by March. There are already five Hyatt Regencys in India as well as two Grand Hyatts and three Park Hyatts. The chain is also developing 50 other hotels on the subcontinent. ... Speaking of Hyatt, the chain's boutique brand, Andaz, has opened a property in Amsterdam. The 122-room hotel is on the site of the former public library on the Prinsengracht in the Jordaan district.
Bankrupt American Says It'll Add Four More International Routes
Here's a route you probably never expected: American Airlines say that it'll launch daily flights between its Dallas/Fort Worth hub and Seoul on May 9. The bankrupt carrier will use a Boeing 777-200 on the route and operate it in conjunction with Oneworld Alliance partner Japan Airlines. American will also fly from its Chicago/O'Hare hub to Dusseldorf beginning on April 11. That daily nonstop will be operated with a Boeing 767-300. Also new: a daily Boeing 757 nonstop from DFW to Lima, Peru. That run starts on April 2. Most perplexing of all: a new daily Boeing 757 route between American's New York/Kennedy hub and Dublin. That route will start on June 12 and put American in competition with Delta Air Lines and Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus. ... ... InterJet, the Mexican airline, says that it will launch twice-weekly flights between Las Vegas and Toluca on November 15.
Malaysia Will Join OneWorld, Air France Will Fly From Minneapolis
Malaysia Airlines will join Oneworld on February 1. It's a much-needed addition for the alliance and should open some new reward opportunities for American AAdvantage players. Malaysia flies nonstop from Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur. From KL, it flies to five cities in Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; and dozens of cities in Asia. ... SkyMiles players take note: Air France will fly between its Paris/CDG hub and Minneapolis/St. Paul this summer. The route will operate daily between May 21 and September 1. ... Hilton HHonors players take note: The Tropicana hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas will align with the DoubleTree by Hilton brand. The 1,600-room, 35-acre resort recently underwent a $160 million renovation.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
American Airlines and Sabre, the technology company it created and then sold, have settled a long-running dispute over the distribution of American's ticket inventory. Before American tumbled into bankruptcy, it tried to strong-arm travel agencies and computer-reservations services such as Sabre into using a computer system that would be cheaper for American. ... ING Direct officially became a part of Capital One today (November 1) and that means ING banking customers won't pay a foreign-exchange fee on ATM withdrawals overseas.
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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.