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THE BRIEFING FOR MAY 22 TO JUNE 5, 2014
By Joe Brancatelli
· Southwest's No-Planes-Needed Expansion Plans
· Why You Should Join Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
· JetBlue Continues to Expand at Fort Lauderdale
· Seaside Cities on Both Coasts Get New Hotels
· Premium Economy Gets Two New Global Players
· Delta, Virgin Atlantic Swap Some London Routes
· Luxury Bus Service Now Links Dallas and Austin
Southwest's No-Planes-Needed Expansion in Dallas and Washington
It will soon be free of the Wright Amendment that restricted its growth at Dallas/Love Field, so Southwest Airlines has announced a big expansion at its hometown hub. It's also filling in the blanks at Washington/National, where it acquired slots thanks to the government-mandated sell-off that was part of the American-US Airways merger. But Southwest is aircraft-challenged, having promised for financial reasons that it would keep its fleet at about 680 planes through 2015. So how do you expand your route network in two cities without adding new aircraft? You drop routes and frequencies elsewhere. What's it all mean? A shake-up of the Southwest route map, so get out your scorecard to keep track of the changes.
From Dallas/Love, Southwest will add flights to Baltimore/Washington, Chicago/Midway, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando and Washington/National. Those routes begin on October 13. On November 2, it'll add routes to Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Nashville, New York/LaGuardia, Phoenix, San Diego, John Wayne/Orange County and Tampa.
From Washington/National, there'll be new flights to Akron/Canton and Indianapolis beginning on November 2. That'll bring the airline to 44 daily departures to 14 cities.
Although it hasn't officially released a list of routes and frequencies it is dropping to free up aircraft, a comparison of existing schedules sheds light on some of the changes. The cancelled routes include Charlotte-Orlando, Amarillo-Denver and Albuquerque-Seattle. The airline is also thinning as many as a half-dozen frequencies each in at least six other markets, including Austin, Houston/Hobby, Kansas City, El Paso, Albuquerque and Amarillo.
Why You Should Join Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer
Ultimate Rewards, the frequency program of the Chase Bank Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards, today (May 22) added an interesting new points-transfer partner: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. In my opinion, that means we should all be members of KrisFlyer. The reason? KrisFlyer is also a partner of American Express Membership Rewards and both Amex and Chase offer 1:1 transfers into KrisFlyer. Why does that matter? Because Singapore Airlines offers generous seat availability to KrisFlyer members, the KrisFlyer award chart is reasonably priced and you can get lots of seats you won't get via Star Alliance partner United MileagePlus. United, in fact, recently yanked Singapore Airlines award availability from its online site, making it more difficult to score a seat. So even if you are skeptical of joining the frequency program of an international carrier, this should be an exception. Here's the link to join KrisFlyer and here is the link to the one-way award chart.
JetBlue Continues to Expand at Fort Lauderdale
JetBlue Airways continues to build up Fort Lauderdale as its third-largest focus city after its original hub at New York/Kennedy and Boston/Logan. Effective October 29, there'll be a daily flight to Las Vegas and a daily flight to Cartagena, Colombia. Both routes will operate with Airbus A320s. ... A 213-room Renaissance hotel has opened at Edmonton International Airport. A 160-foot heated skybridge connects the hotel and the terminal. ... Virgin America has gotten the two gates it sought at Dallas Love Field and will launch previously announced flights to Washington/DCA, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York/LGA in late October. ... If you still care about Frontier Airlines even though it has begun to ape the all-fees-all-the-time approach of Spirit Airlines, you should know that the Denver-based carrier is building a hub at Washington/Dulles. It'll launch service to 14 cities (mostly with three or four weekly flights) between August 19 and September 8. Frontier also says that it'll launch two new routes into Cleveland, a hub United Airlines is abandoning. ... A restaurant and bar called The Local has opened in Manchester, New Hampshire, using the space formerly occupied by the Smuttynose Cafe.
Sleepy Seaside Cities on Both Coasts Get New Hotels
What do Redondo Beach in Southern California, and Portland, Maine, have in common? Not much except proximity to oceans. Well, that and the fact that the two under-hoteled communities now have a pair of new, limited-service properties to call their own. On the left coast, Redondo Beach now has a 172-room Residence Inn and a 147-room Hilton Garden Inn. Both are just off the I-405 near Marine Avenue, close to the Redondo Beach stop on the Green Line. That's about eight miles from Los Angeles International Airport. On the right coast, in Portland, a 131-room Courtyard by Marriott and a 141-room Hyatt Place have opened about a quarter of a mile from each other in the Old Port neighborhood. The Hyatt is on Fore Street and the Courtyard is on Commercial Avenue.
As First Class Disappears, Premium Economy Service Goes Global
The Seat 2B column this week considers the fall (albeit an opulent one) of international first-class cabins. But as first class falters, premium-economy service is growing fast. The latest convert: Singapore Airlines. The well-regarded airline has long resisted adding a service between coach and business class, but now admits the market "has matured." So starting next year, Singapore Air will have premium economy on long-haul flights. The airline hasn't given details of the in-flight service or seat configuration, but a decade ago it offered a terrific premium-economy layout on its now-defunct nonstops to Singapore from Newark and Los Angeles. ... Singapore Air's Star Alliance partner Lufthansa has begun selling seats on its premium-economy service for flights beginning on December 10. The first U.S. routes will be Chicago-Frankfurt and Washington/Dulles-Frankfurt. Four more U.S. cities (New York, Miami, Houston and San Francisco) will be added in April. ... Delta Air Lines and its 49 percent-owned partner, Virgin Atlantic, are shaking up their schedules to London. Delta will launch its first LAX-London/Heathrow flights by taking over one of Virgin's existing services. And Virgin will make it first foray into Atlanta by taking over one of Delta's flights at its global hub. The switches take place October 26. Full details are here. ... United Airlines set October 26 for its first nonstops between San Francisco and close-in Tokyo/Haneda Airport. United will use a Boeing 777 configured with first, business class, Economy Plus and coach.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Delta Air Lines launched a $10 roundtrip domestic fare hike yesterday (May 21) and it has been matched by most carriers except Southwest Airlines. You might want to hold off buying tickets until Southwest weighs in since fare hikes are rolled back if it doesn't match. ... Aer Lingus flyers take note: The airline's cabin crew is threatening a 24-hour strike starting midnight local time on May 30. That's the start of the bank holiday weekend in Ireland. ... London-bound travelers take note: Staff of the Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect trains between the airport and Paddington Station plan strikes tomorrow (May 23) and Monday (May 26). That'll knock out the Connect trains and reduce Heathrow Express service to two trains per hour. ... Air Canada has confirmed that it's reconfiguring all of its Boeing 777 aircraft for 10-across seating in coach. That'll reduce seat width to about 17 inches. ... United Airlines says it now offers Mercedes transfers to select Global Services and first-class flyers at Los Angeles. The airline already offers the service at several other hubs. ... A luxury bus called Vonlane now operates between Dallas and Austin. The four-times-daily motorcoach has 22 leather seats and a conference room, free WiFi, electrical outlets and satellite TV and radio. The three-hour ride costs $100 each way.
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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.