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THE BRIEFING FOR MAY 2 TO MAY 16, 2013
By Joe Brancatelli
· Time to Add Frontier to Your 'Do Not Fly' List
· How to Find Airlines' Standby Rules and Fees
· You Can Sue U.S. Hotels for Trouble Overseas
· JetBlue Beefs Up Service to Hartford, Connecticut
· Lufthansa Settles Pay Dispute and Strikes End
· Alaska Airlines Adds Flights in Portland, Oregon
· Maybe They Should Name It After a Sausage...
Time to Add Frontier Airlines to Your 'Do Not Fly' List
Republic Airways Holdings, the commuter-airline company that scooped up and merged Midwest and Frontier airlines in 2009, has been desperately trying to peddle the carrier ever since. It says it may finally have a buyer in a couple of months. Yet it seems that Republic is intent on having Frontier commit business suicide first. First chairman Bryan Bedford admitted he chose the Frontier name for the mashed-up carrier because the airline simply wasn't as good as the old Midwest. Then he stuffed more seats on the planes, made peculiar route decisions and hired the man who helped destroy the old US Airways, David Siegel, as Frontier's chief executive. Now comes what are the final indignities: In a bizarre announcement that Siegel positioned as "enhance[d] services," Frontier will charge for in-flight beverages and for carry-on bags, increase the fee for checked bags and further reduce the number of miles earned on some fares. You can read Siegel's bizarre and convoluted logic and the list of new fees here. Then add Frontier to your personal "do not fly" list.
AA, Delta Hike Change Fees. Meanwhile, About Standby Rules...
United Airlines and US Airways last week upped the change fees on domestic tickets to $200 from $150. So this week Delta Air Lines and American Airlines followed suit because the legacy carriers have never met an annoying fee they couldn't agree to charge. More complicated, though, are the ever-changing rules and charges for same-day standby travel, which more frequently affects business travelers than the generic change fee. The bottom line, of course, is that standbys (aka same-day travel changes) are getting more difficult to arrange and more expensive to use. To make sure you're not burned by a recent change, here's how to check the current policies and fees. American Airlines' rules are here and merger partner US Airways details its policies here. Delta lays out its new standby rules here. United explains its policies here. Policies still aren't aligned at Southwest Airlines and its AirTran subsidiary. Alaska Airlines explains its rules here while JetBlue Airways lays out its policies here. Virgin Atlantic puts its standby rules here. If you haven't already crossed Frontier off your acceptable-carrier list, here's what it says about standby travel.
Court Says You Can Sue a U.S. Chain for Trouble Overseas
Watch this one carefully, fellow travelers, because it could seriously alter the lodging landscape in troubled parts of the world. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, has ruled that Marriott can be sued in the United States for wrongful death for the bombing of the Islamabad Marriott in 2008. As you recall, that Marriott was attacked by a truck bomber and dozens died. The family of a State Department contractor killed in the incident sued Marriott, but a lower court ruled the case should be handled by the Pakistani judicial system. Calling that "a perversion of justice," the appeals court overturned the ruling, however. "There is inherent convenience to bringing this case in [Marriott's] backyard," Judge Roger Gregory wrote in a 19-page decision. "A Maryland jury has a strong interest in deciding this case."
JetBlue Pushes New England Edge, Alaska Grows the Other Portland
Having won the Battle of Boston/Logan and then announced flights from Worcester, Massachusetts, JetBlue Airways is turning its attention back to Hartford, Connecticut. The airline will launch daily flights from BDL to Tampa on October 24. It'll also run a seasonal daily service to Fort Myers beginning the same day. Both routes will operate with Airbus A320s. JetBlue already serves San Juan and three other Florida cities (Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach) from Hartford. ... On the Left Coast, Alaska Airlines is growing in Portland, Oregon. On August 26, it'll add a daily flight to Atlanta. That'll replace one of two daily Atlanta flights Alaska currently runs from its Seattle-Tacoma hub. On September 16, it'll add a daily Portland-Dallas/Fort Worth service. The new cities are the seventh and eighth destinations that Alaska has added from Portland in the last 12 months. The most recent new route: flights to Fairbanks, which start on June 9.
Lufthansa Settles Pay Dispute and the Strikes Should Be Over
Here's good news for international travelers: Lufthansa has settled a pay dispute with the ver.di union that represents more than 30,000 ground crew and cabin staff. The 26-month deal must be approved by the union's rank and filers, but that seems assured. Also assured: an end to strikes that have plagued Lufthansa for more than a year. ... American Airlines has opened a Flagship Check-In facility at its hub in Terminal 8 at New York/Kennedy Airport. Similar to the exclusive check-in facilities already operating at American's Los Angeles and Miami hubs, the JFK Flagship area is available to first-class flyers on transcontinental and international flights and ConciergeKey customers. More details are here. ... Americans are flying to Ireland again. Visits from North America were up 17 percent in the first quarter compared to 2012, says the Irish government. ... Ever heard of the Bellgrove Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland? Unless you saw a BBC expose that named it a "dumping ground" for the poor and homeless, you're not likely to know the Bellgrove. Unless, of course, you happened to notice its appearance on a recent TripAdvisor.com list of the 100 best hotels in the United Kingdom. The review site was spoofed with a flurry of fake five-star reviews for the homeless hostel.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx has been named to replace Ray LaHood as Secretary of Transportation. Foxx had previously said he would not seek another term as mayor, after winning the post in 2009 and being reelected in 2011. ... Pinnacle Airlines, the commuter carrier, emerged from bankruptcy this week and became a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. Once upon a time, it was known as Mesaba and was a commuter carrier for Northwest Airlines, which merged with Delta in 2008. ... The landing gear from one of the aircraft that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11 was found last week wedged behind two buildings about three blocks away. Boeing hasn't said whether the wreckage was from American Flight 11 or United Flight 175. Both used Boeing 767 aircraft.
Maybe They Should Name It After a Beer or a Sausage...
When Milwaukee opened a new convention center in 1998, it was called the Midwest Express Center thanks to a naming-rights deal with Midwest Express, then the hometown airline. When Midwest Express changed its name to Midwest Airlines, the facility at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Fourth Street became the Midwest Airlines Center. After Midwest was sold to Republic Airways Holdings and merged into Frontier Airlines (see above), the facility was renamed the Frontier Center. A few months ago, the convention center was renamed the Delta Center when Delta Air Lines assumed the naming-rights contract. But Delta said this week that it won't renew the deal when the contract expires on June 30. Failing to find another airline (or some other company) to pay for the right to slap its signage on the building, the property will be renamed the Wisconsin Center on July 1.
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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 © 2013 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2013 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.