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THE BRIEFING FOR JAN. 30 TO FEB. 13, 2014
By Joe Brancatelli

· Southwest, JetBlue Get American's DCA Slots
· China: Still The Hot Place to Add New Flights
· Another Burst of Chain Hotels Open Worldwide
· American Will Stuff More Seats on Its Planes
· United Rejiggers Newark for Super-Elite Flyers
· Malaysia Air Dropping 'Secret' LAX-Tokyo Flights
· JetBlue Adding WiFi to 15 Aircraft Every Month


Southwest and JetBlue Will Provide the Competition at National
To get its merger, American Airlines and US Airways agreed to reduce their stranglehold on Washington/National Airport and surrender more than 100 take-off and landing slots. Now we also know who will provide the primary competition. Southwest Airlines has purchased enough slots to add 27 new daily roundtrips. Those new flights will bump Southwest's DCA schedule up to 44 daily roundtrips from the current 17. And JetBlue Airways has purchased enough for a dozen new flights from National. It has also purchased the slots it has been leasing from American, which means JetBlue will soon have as many as 30 roundtrips a day at National. Both deals were announced today (January 30) although financial terms were not disclosed and the slot transfers do require the approval of the Justice Department. Neither carrier disclosed what routes they will fly from National, either. The Southwest and JetBlue deals mean that there are just five more roundtrips available as part of the American-US Airways divestiture. One other bit of National news: Southwest has taken over a pair of slots that Frontier Airlines had been using for DCA-Kansas City nonstops. Starting Saturday (February 1), Southwest's AirTran Airways subsidiary will fly the route.

China: Still The Hot Place to Add New Flights
China travelers take note: Despite the noticeable slowdown in the Chinese economy, carriers continue to add service between the United States and the world's most populous nation. American Airlines this week announced that it would start flights to Shanghai from its Dallas/Fort Worth hub on June 11. The daily route will be served with a Boeing 777-200. By the way, if the June 11 date sounds familiar, that's because it's the same day that American will launch its previously announced DFW-Hong Kong run. Two China-based carriers are also expanding their route maps. SkyTeam member China Southern Airlines is expected to launch a nonstop between New York/Kennedy and its hub in Guangzhou in June. At the moment, China Southern only flies to Los Angeles and Vancouver. And Hainan Air has chosen June 20 as the launch date for its nonstop Boston-Beijing route. There will be four weekly flights using Boeing 787s. It's the first nonstop link to China for New England. And United Airlines can't stop telling us that it'll launch three weekly Dreamliner flights on June 9 between its San Francisco hub and Chendgu. ... Malaysia Airlines is pulling its last route to the United States, the nonstop it operates between Los Angeles and Tokyo. The final flights will be on April 30. Malaysia has operated on the LAX-Tokyo run for nearly 30 years and once also flew nonstop between Newark and Stockholm.

Another Burst of Chain Hotels Open Worldwide
You might have thought we had all the hotels we needed, but the lodging industry apparently thinks otherwise. So get out your scorecard for another burst of major chain openings and reflaggings. From Marriott, there is a 115-room Courtyard in the Kingwood suburb of Houston. ... The old InterContinental in Belgrade, once the best hotel in the Serbian capital, has reopened as a 416-room Crowne Plaza. The property has undergone a major renovation after operating for nearly a decade as an independent hotel called The Continental. ... Radisson is the new name on the door of the 350-room hotel in Hartford, Connecticut, that once traded as a Ramada. ... A 330-room Hyatt Place has opened in the Hoofddorp area near Amsterdam/Schiphol Airport. ... Hilton has opened a 114-room Hampton Inn in Hawthorne, about three miles from Los Angeles International Airport. There are also new Hampton properties in San Bernardino, California, (114 rooms) and Destin, Florida (130 rooms). Hilton also opened a dual-branded complex in the Bricktown neighborhood of Oklahoma City. There's a 156-room Hilton Garden Inn and a 100-room Homewood Suites in the building.

American Will Stuff More Seats on Its Planes
The new bosses at American Airlines--most of them transplants from US Airways--have never been known for running a high-quality airline. So it shouldn't surprise you that one of their first changes is to stuff more seats on American's aircraft. American officials have confirmed that it has already added five more seats to the carrier's MD-80 aircraft. That brings them up to 140 chairs per plane. American's Boeing 737-800s will go to 160 or 164 seats from the current configuration of 150 seats. And the carrier's Boeing 777-200s, backbone of its international fleet, will get the biggest overhaul. At the moment, the planes have 247 seats. After the US Airways gang is done, there'll be at least 260 seats and as many as 289. Lest you think this has anything to do with creative thinking, consider the explanation of American president Scott Kirby: "The seating configurations we're going to are the same number of seats...that Delta has. We haven't finished the analysis on the 777 yet, but it will be consistent with what airlines like Delta have."
In other words, Delta see, Delta do. Fascinating way to run an airline, don't you think?

United Rejiggers Newark Terminal C for Super-Elite Flyers
United Airlines has added enhancements for top elite MileagePlus flyers at Terminal C in Newark. There's a new Premier Access lobby available only to Global Services members and travelers flying first class on international flights. The lobby is accessible via Door 4 of the mid-level departures area and is adjacent to the C-2 security checkpoint. United is also rolling out Mercedes-Benz tarmac transportation for some connecting flyers. It's similar to the service offered at its Chicago/O'Hare and Houston/InterContinental hubs. ... The TSA opened a PreCheck enrollment center inside Terminal 5 at Los Angeles. ... Frontier Airlines will add another route from Trenton. Effective May 2, there'll be three weekly Airbus A319 flights to St. Augustine. ... Memphis has lost two thirds of its flights from Delta Air Lines, which inherited the hub from Northwest Airlines. The flying shortfall is logically affecting airport services, too. One of the two Interstate Barbecue outlets is closing. The food court kiosk shuts down on February 28.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Southwest Airlines is taking over some international flights of its AirTran Airways subsidiary. Effective July 1, it'll fly a few Caribbean routes using Southwest Boeing 737s, which is officially the first time Southwest itself will operate internationally. ... JetBlue Airways says it now has ten Airbus A320s configured with its FlyFi Internet service. The airline says it'll equip as many as 15 additional planes a month this year. ... Star Alliance flyers take note: Lufthansa says it will fly five weekly flights between Montreal and Frankfurt between May 16 and October 12. And Brussels Airlines, a Lufthansa subsidiary, resumes flying from Brussels to Athens after a year-long gap. There'll be three or four weekly Airbus A319 flights between March 30 and August 30. That means travelers looking to claim award travel to Athens, which has no year-round nonstops from the United States, can fly a New York/JFK-Brussels-Athens connection.

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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 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.