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THE BRIEFING FOR SEPTEMBER 5-19, 2013
By Joe Brancatelli
· The Revenge of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner
· TSA Expands PreCheck to 60 More Airports
· New Places in the Sun to Use Hyatt Points
· Delta Turns Its Attention to JFK Terminal 2
· What to Expect From a US Air-Run American
· Residence Inn Opens Second Manhattan Hotel
· Another Fare Increase Goes Down in Flames
The Revenge of the Dreamliner
Although business flyers were mostly sanguine about the problems that plagued the Boeing 787 Dreamliner earlier this year, the troubled aircraft took no end of pounding in the general media. But now the plane (and business travelers) may have the last laugh. Airlines are deploying the fuel-efficient, low-seat-capacity aircraft on a variety of new routes. One example: British Airways announced yesterday (September 4) that it would use Boeing 787s to launch nonstops between Austin, Texas, and London/Heathrow. BA's Dreamliners are configured with three classes (business, premium economy and coach) and only 214 seats. Dreamliners, which will replace BA's aging Boeing 767s, "gives us the opportunity to serve new cities like Austin," explains Sean Doyle, executive vice president of the Americas. The Austin-LHR route launches next March with five weekly flights. Meanwhile, United Airlines announced last week that it will deploy 219-seat Dreamliners on a new route from San Francisco to Chengdu, China's fourth-largest city and the capital of Sichuan province. Thrice-weekly 14-hour flights begin June 9 and are configured with 36 business-class seats, 70 Economy Plus chairs and 113 seats in coach. The Dreamliner even allows discount carriers to span the oceans. Norwegian Air Shuttle, which dipped its toe into the U.S. market this summer, is planning a Dreamliner-fueled expansion next year. Starting in March, Norwegian will add a battery of new nonstop routes: Los Angeles to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo; New York/Kennedy-Copenhagen; Oakland to both Stockholm and Oslo; and Orlando-Oslo. Norwegian configures its two-class Dreamliners with 291 seats, including 32 chairs in a spacious (46 inches of legroom) premium-economy cabin.
The TSA Will Expand PreCheck to 60 More Airports Nationwide
For all the bad news that comes from the TSA, the agency has made good on at least one promise: a fast rollout of PreCheck, which allows frequent flyers to keep shoes, jackets and belts on and permits laptops and 3-1-1 kit bags to stay in carry-ons. Since its launch 11 months ago, PreCheck has opened at 40 airports. Now the TSA says 60 more airports will get PreCheck by the end of the year. Click here to see the complete list of airports that will have the bypass lanes by year-end. As you know, PreCheck is free of charge to elite-level flyers of most airlines or for members of Global Entry. The TSA will also allow all flyers to apply for an $85 fee. More information on that process is here.
Finding a New Place in the Sun Using Hyatt Gold Passport Points
If you're sitting on a stash of Hyatt Gold Passport points, there's good news if you're searching for some fun in the sun. After a few construction delays, the beachfront Andaz Maui at the Wailea Resort has opened. The 297-unit property has guestrooms, suites and villas. The property is built on the bones of a hotel that opened in 1978 as the Wailea Beach Resort. It was later known as the Stouffer and the Renaissance before closing in 2007. Starwood founder Barry Sternlicht made two failed attempts to reopen the resort in recent years before Hyatt took over the project. It's now a Category 6 redemption for 22,000 points a night. Separately, Hyatt is spending $717 million to buy the massive 1,641-room Peabody Orlando hotel. Adjacent to the Orange County Convention Center, the property will be converted into a Hyatt Regency when the transaction closes next month. ... United MileagePlus Global Services members take note: Your upgrades should clear more often and more often in advance of check-in now that the airline has begun pulling the upgrades from a new fare bucket. Upgrades of all types for Global Services members will now come from the PN fare class instead of R class. ... American AAdvantage has confirmed that it won't impose fuel surcharges on award tickets claimed on most partner carriers. The airline erroneously began adding surcharges on awards last week. A note: As before, award tickets on British Airways and Iberia do carry the surcharges.
Delta Turns Its Attention to JFK Terminal 2
After finally getting new digs at New York/Kennedy Terminal 4 earlier this year, Delta Air Lines is starting to clean up its facilities at well-worn JFK Terminal 2. The airline and its food-and-beverage partner will open seven new dining outlets in the coming months. There'll be Italian and Japanese restaurants, coffee shops, a Brooklyn-inspired beer garden (whatever that is) and a French sandwich shop called (wait for it) Croque Madame. ... San Francisco is losing its only nonstop link to South America. LAN dumps flights to Lima, Peru, on April 1. The route began four years ago. ... There's a new dining option at Atlanta-Hartsfield: P.F. Chang's has opened on the upper level of Concourse A. it's the first airport location for the 20-year-old Chinese food chain. ... A 116-room Hampton Inn opened this week at Warsaw Airport. It even has a 24-hour bar that serves hot meals. Introductory nightly rates are about half those being charged by the Courtyard, the other U.S.-based chain at Chopin Airport.
This Is What to Expect From a US Airways-Run American
No matter what they believe about the supposed financial efficacy of a US Airways-American merger, no one expects American to be a better airline for business flyers when or if US Airways management takes the reins. And here's some solid proof of the customer-be-damned attitude. US Airways moved its New York/JFK flights into American Airlines' Terminal 8 last week. It gave flyers no advance notice of the switch and, worse, US Airways elite flyers and US Airways Club members don't have access to any of American's Admirals Club lounges in Terminal 8. ... In its revised brief supporting its lawsuit to stop the merger, the Justice Department says that Michigan has joined the government's side. Six other states--Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania--and the District of Columbia were already part of the suit against the merger.
Marriott Opens Another Residence Inn in Manhattan
In case you haven't noticed, the Residence Inn extended-stay brand from Marriott long ago outgrew its original home in suburban office parks and just-off-the-interstate locations. Case in point: a new Residence Inn on the East Side of Manhattan, built into the shell of the old Helmsley Middletowne Hotel. A Residence Inn on Manhattan's West Side opened several years ago. ... Other new Marriott-branded properties this week: a 175-room Courtyard in Pune, India, and a 265-room Courtyard in downtown Minneapolis; a 106-room SpringHill Suites in Pensacola, Florida; and a 128-room Residence Inn in Needham, Massachusetts. ... New from Hilton: a 109-room Homewood Suites in Columbus, Ohio, and a 78-room Homewood in Durango, Colorado; a 104-room Hilton Garden Inn in the Haymarket district of Lincoln, Nebraska; and a 280-room Hilton in the Sukhumvit district of Bangkok. The chain's DoubleTree brand also converted another down-at-the-heels property: a 310-room hotel in Springfield, Illinois, that recently traded as the Abraham Lincoln Hotel but was once the Renaissance. ... A 126-room Hyatt Place hotel has opened in the Detroit suburb of Novi, Michigan.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
A new attempt by Delta Air Lines to raise fares failed this week. Its $4-$10 fare hike collapsed when only United Airlines matched. According to Fare Compare.com, it was the tenth attempt to raise fares this year. Only two of them have succeeded. ... Speaking of United, it was fined $350,000 by the Transportation Department for late refunds in the wake of last year's computer meltdown. The airline must pay half the fine now. The other half will be forgiven if there are no additional violations.
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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.