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THE BRIEFING FOR AUGUST 1 TO 14, 2013
By Joe Brancatelli

· Like Old Times: Chaos in the California Corridor
· U.S. Hotel Chains Continue Worldwide Expansion
· AA Upgrades Commuter Jets on 3 O'Hare Runs
· Turkish Airlines Will Add a Boston-Istanbul Route
· Porter Airlines Imposes Checked-Bag Charges
· Airlines Launching Winter Ski, Snowbird Routes
· We're Not as Stupid as Airline Executives Think


Just Like Old Times: Chaos in the California Corridor
Depending on how long you've been on the road, you'll have lived through several chaotic battles for control of the California Corridor, whose spine is the LAX-SFO route between California's two largest cities. The Corridor has been fairly stable in recent years, however, with United and Southwest airlines dominating most markets and Alaska Airlines a distant, if feisty, third. But chaos is on the horizon again. Delta Air Lines announced today (August 1) that it will launch an hourly shuttle operation between San Francisco and Los Angeles starting September 3. Its 14 daily roundtrips will be operated by one of Delta's commuter carriers using Embraer E-175 configured with 12 first class, 12 premium economy and 52 coach seats. That'll put Delta at a disadvantage against the larger traditional jets used by United and Southwest. But Delta hopes its service will give it a healthy slice of the approximately 3.2 million travelers who fly LAX-SFO each year. Delta flights will depart on a set schedule--the top of the hour--compared to the more randomly timed United and Southwest flights. Delta is also laying on the perks: dedicated check-in counters; free newspapers; complimentary in-flight snacks; and free beer and wine. Delta does have one other disadvantage, though. Although it is competitive at LAX, it's nearly invisible in San Francisco, with just eight percent of the traffic at SFO. Stay tuned for further developments on this one, folks.

U.S. Hotel Chains Continue Their Worldwide Expansion
With many American lodging markets saturated, U.S. hotel chains continue to focus their expansion overseas. And, if nothing else, that gives us more exotic places to cash our frequent-guest points. Hyatt, for example, has just opened a 353-room Grand Hyatt in Shenyang, China. The property is located on Qingnian Avenue, the city's so-called Golden Corridor and main commercial thoroughfare. Hyatt also opened the 108-room Park Hyatt in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The property was known as the Hotel De La Paix before closing for a 14-month renovation. ... InterContinental opened a 358-room hotel in Lagos, Nigeria. It's located on Victoria Island, the city's business and diplomatic hub. ... Starwood opened a 124-room Sheraton in Tucuman, Argentina, facing the city's 9 de Julio Park. ... DoubleTree by Hilton has opened a 115-room hotel in the Pimpri-Chinchwad district of Pune, India. ... Radisson and Wyndham both opened hotels in Istanbul. The 130-room Radisson Blu is in the Pera Taksim district and the 307-room Wyndham is in the Petek neighborhood.

American Upgrades Commuter Service on Three O'Hare Routes
American Eagle, the commuter carrier of American Airlines, is getting an upgrade. American is taking delivery of 47 Embraer E-175 regional jets configured with 12 first class, 20 premium economy and 44 coach seats. The first aircraft went into service this week on routes from Chicago/O'Hare: Albuquerque, Pittsburgh and New Orleans. ... Airlines are beginning to roll out their seasonal ski routes and sunbird runs. Delta Air Lines will run winter service to Aspen/Snowmass from both its Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul hubs. CRJ-700 flights begin December 21 with daily flights from Atlanta and Saturday-only service from MSP. Meanwhile, Air Canada will launch weekly flights between Toronto and Vail using Airbus A319s on December 14. On the same day, it begins weekly E-190 flights from Halifax to Fort Lauderdale.

Turkish Airlines Will Add a Boston-Istanbul Route
Turkish Airlines, the fast-growing Star Alliance carrier based in Istanbul, is adding another U.S. route: Boston/Logan. The route, starting May 12, will operate five days a week with Airbus A330-300 aircraft. The service increases to daily flights on June 9. ... Virgin Atlantic is now selling some of its business-class perks to travelers who have booked flights in its coach and premium-economy cabins. Called the Guest List, the service includes private limo service to and from the airport; use of Virgin airport lounges; business class check-in privileges; fast-track security access; and priority baggage handling. Guest List is available to flyers departing from New York/Kennedy, Newark, Washington/Dulles, Boston and San Francisco. The prices start at $384 a flight.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Porter Airlines now charges transborder customers for baggage. Effective today (August 1), passengers who fly to Toronto/City Island from four U.S. airports (Boston, Newark, Washington/Dulles and Chicago/Midway) pay $25 for the first checked bag, $35 for the second and $100 for each additional piece. Some or all fees are waived for customers on the highest fare categories, called Freedom and Flexible. For flights within Canada, the first checked bag is still free, the second bag costs $20 and additional checked pieces cost $100 each. ... A United Airlines customer-service agent and his wife have been arrested and charged with stealing unclaimed luggage from a flight diverted from San Francisco on July 6, the day of the crash landing of an Asiana Flight 214. ... Travel to Turkey apparently wasn't affected by the demonstrations in Istanbul's Taksim Square during May and June. Turkey's tourism revenue rose nearly 23 percent in the second quarter, the country's statistics office says.

Memo To Airline Executives: We're Not as Stupid as You Think
When he announced WestJet would add a premium-economy service and reduce coach legroom by as much as three inches, chief executive Gregg Saretsky suggested we were so stupid that we wouldn't notice. It turns out that we're not as stupid as Saretsky thought. The rollout of premium economy this spring "wasn't pretty," Saretsky admitted to securities analysts this week. As they boarded the newly configured jets, WestJet customers saw empty seats in the more spacious premium-economy section and grabbed them rather than go to the suddenly skimpy coach seats. "They just thought they'd sit themselves down and take advantage of some of the extra legroom," he said. "That put our flight attendants in a very awkward position of having to try to move them."

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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.