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THE BRIEFING FOR MAY 29 - JUNE 12, 2014
By Joe Brancatelli
· United Airlines Starts Shrinking Its Route Map
· In Time for Summer, Major Global Hotels Open
· JetBlue Will Start Its First Intra-Florida Route
· Delta-Alaska Battle for Seattle Heats Up Again
· Hampton Inn, Limited-Service Hotel Behemoth
· Air Canada Moves to Heathrow T2 on June 18
· Canada Okays Gate-to-Gate Use of Electronics
United Airlines Starts Shrinking Its Route Map
Trailing the U.S. airline industry in both financial performance and customer satisfaction, United Airlines is basically out of options. So the carrier is now beginning to shut down entire chunks of its route network. After eliminating much of its intra-Asia service in the winter, United is now dropping flights to Doha, Qatar, a city it served as an extension of its Washington/Dulles-Dubai route. The last flight to Doha, first launched in 2012, is August 30. The airline is also dumping many regional flights from its Los Angeles hub and to and from Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon. The cutbacks in Los Angeles include dumping flights to Kelowna, British Columbia, and Portland. United has also shed four gates at LAX Terminal 6 and those will be taken over by American Airlines. From Las Vegas, United is dropping flights to Fresno and Palm Springs. United is also cutting three other routes from Portland: Eugene, Oregon; and Redmond and Seattle, Washington. Most of the flights have been operated as United Express by Skywest and the routes will end in September. Skywest will keep flying for United Express into Kelowna, moving that route to United's San Francisco hub.
Just in Time for Summer, Major Hotel Openings Around the World
Now that more of us are headed overseas again, the hotel industry is responding in kind with a burst of new properties. Hyatt has opened two new hotels in the booming China market: a 144-room Hyatt Place in the Dongmen district of Shenzhen and a 306-room Hyatt Regency in the Hedong district of Tianjin. It has also opened the 105-room Hyatt Raipur in the Magneto mixed-use complex of the capital city of India's Chhattisgarh state. ... Hilton has also added a spread of new properties overseas via its DoubleTree brand. DoubleTree is usually about converting properties fallen from other chains, but these are new-build openings. That includes the 202-room hotel in Malatya, Turkey; a 360-room branch in Warsaw; and a 253-room outpost in the Diponegoro district of Jakarta, just outside the central business district. ... Starwood has opened a 218-room Four Points in Hefei, the capital of Anhui Province, China, and the 205-room Ajman Saray, in Ajman, United Arab Emirates. It's part of the Luxury Collection. ... But Starwood's Sheraton chain has lost its Udaipur Palace Resort in India. The 240-room property on the banks of Fateh Sagar Lake is now a Radisson Blu. Radisson Blu has also opened a 290-room property in Bangkok, an ode to bad timing since the military coup is devastating tourism and business travel to Thailand.
The Battle for Seattle Between Delta and Alaska Heats Up Again The long-running war between Seattle-Tacoma incumbent Alaska Airlines and gigantic interloper Delta Airlines is heating up again. Delta this week announced service to five more cities from Sea-Tac. Effective November 3, there'll be four daily regional-jet flights to Spokane and two daily RJ runs to Calgary. On December 20, Delta launches a daily flight to Kahului, Maui, using a Boeing 757. The same day, it begins seasonal regional-jet flights to Bozeman, Montana and a weekly flight to Puerto Vallarta using Airbus A319s. The new flights buttress Delta's existing Sea-Tac network of 50 daily departures to 18 cities. Within hours, Alaska responded by announcing an 11 percent increase in service from Sea-Tac, boosting its network to 280 flights from the current 253. Besides some previously announced new routes, Alaska said it would add 27 new roundtrips on existing routes, including Boston/Logan, Chicago/O'Hare, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. ... JetBlue Airways continues to ramp up service at Fort Lauderdale, its third-largest operation after its New York/Kennedy home and Boston/Logan. Effective October 29, there'll be two daily flights to Jacksonville, the airline's first intra-Florida service. JetBlue will use its 100-seat EMB-190s on the route. ... A branch of Sammy's Beach Bar has opened in Concourse A at Cleveland. The restaurant is named after rocker Sammy Hagar and run by HMSHost, the huge airport-dining operator. ... Air Canada says it'll move into Terminal 2 of London/Heathrow on June 18. Its Star Alliance partner, United Airlines, is scheduled to be the first carrier into the so-called Queen's Terminal beginning on June 4.
Hampton Inn, the Behemoth of Limited-Service Hotels
Thirty years ago this summer, the first Hampton Inn opened. Conceived as a sort of stripped-down, limited-service Holiday Inn--the chain was created by Promus, then owners of the Holiday Inn brand--Hampton was an instant hit with business travelers. In fact, Hampton's first growth spurt came in places where business travelers didn't have much choice in the late 1980s: airports and suburban office parks. Now a division of Hilton-- stripped of its casinos and Holiday Inn, Promus merged with Hilton in 1999--Hampton Inn has grown into a 1,900-branch behemoth. It's still ubiquitous at airports and in the suburbs, of course, but you'll also find Hamptons in the heart of big-city downtowns and in small-town America where there may be no other decent lodging options. And the growth curve remains spectacular. Just this month, new Hampton Inns opened in Clarksdale, Mississippi (63 rooms); on Old Churchmans Road in Wilmington, Delaware (136 rooms); in the Old Mill business park in Omaha, Nebraska (110 rooms); in downtown Baton Rouge. Louisiana (137 rooms); and in Voorhees, New Jersey (118 rooms). ... Speaking of Hilton, the brand it originally created to fight Hampton, Hilcrest, morphed into the Hilton Garden Inn chain and its latest outpost is a 218-room branch in the West End near Dupont Circle in the District of Columbia. ... A 448-room Westin has opened in Cleveland next to the convention center. ... Marriott has renovated the 100-year-old Colorado National Bank building in downtown Denver into a 230-room Renaissance hotel. ... Hyatt has opened still another property in Atlanta, this one a 177-room hotel inside Perimeter Summit.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Southwest Airlines says mobile boarding passes are now available for all domestic flights. ... The Canadian government will now allow gate-to-gate use of personal electronic devices on all flights. Canada's two largest carriers, Air Canada and WestJet, say they'll immediately apply to allow passengers to take advantage of the decision. ... Speaking of Canada, a new ferry service re-connects Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The Nova Star is the first ferry to operate between the two cities since 2009. The run from Portland is an overnight trip, the return from Yarmouth operates during the day. ... Doha's new airport, Hamad International, is finally operating. Qatar Airways and most other carriers have now switched from Doha International. But check with your airline for specifics.
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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.