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THE BRIEFING FOR JUNE 5 - JUNE 19, 2014
By Joe Brancatelli

· Delta Throws a Bone to Economy Comfort Flyers
· Newfoundland Gets Back Its Flights to London
· Modesto, California, Falls Off the Route Map
· Atlanta, Nashville Airports Finally Get Free WiFi
· Amex Platinum Cardholders: Claim Your Boingo
· Hilton's New Brand Imitates Marriott's Autograph
· Southwest Fined $200,000 for Nonexistent Fares


Please, Sir, We Want Some More...
It has come to this: It's big news that Delta Air Lines is throwing a few in-flight bones to some flyers who sit in its just-barely-tolerable Economy Comfort premium-economy service. If you fly Economy Comfort on its transcontinental flights--Delta defines that as New York/Kennedy to/from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle--you now receive a blanket-and-pillow set, eyeshades, earplugs, a "full-size" bottle of water and some new dining options, including snack wraps and frozen yogurt bars. Economy Comfort starts at $99 more than coach each way on transcon flights. This sounds so depressing, and, well, Dickensian, doesn't it?

St. John's Gets Back Its Nonstop to London--England, Not Ontario
Eight years ago, Air Canada infuriated Newfoundland flyers by cutting St. John's from its flights between Halifax and London/Heathrow. Now Air Canada is making amends by launching a year-round nonstop between St. John's and Heathrow. The flights will operate three times a week using 120-seat Airbus A319 aircraft configured with business class and coach. In recent years, Air Canada has run seasonal flights between Newfoundland and London. ... Scratch Modesto, California, off the route map. Skywest, the last carrier offering scheduled flights there, pulled out this week. Modesto is 93 miles from San Francisco, 80 miles from San Jose and 75 miles from Oakland. ... Terminal 2, the Queen's Terminal at Heathrow, opened quietly on Wednesday (June 4). The new home of Star Alliance carriers is currently housing only United Airlines' 17 daily flights. "Hiccups? Yep. But tolerable," said a JoeSentMe member who used T2 this week. The next carrier in, Air Canada, moves to T2 on June 18. ... Some new, near-the-airport hotels to report. A 168-room Hyatt Place opened in Flushing, Queens, three miles from New York/LaGuardia. A 117-room Homewood Suites by Hilton opened near the Robinson Mall, eight miles from Pittsburgh Airport. And a 111-room Home2 Suites by Hilton opened two miles from San Antonio Airport.

Atlanta and Nashville Airports Finally Get Free WiFi
After several years of misfires and broken promises, WiFi is now free at Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport. Meanwhile, Boingo has taken over the WiFi at Nashville and travelers there now receive 30 minutes of free, advertising-supported WiFi. ... Speaking of Boingo, the deal between the WiFi aggregator and American Express is now in place, so Platinum Cardholders receive a Boingo account. That gives cardholders free access to a million WiFi hotspots worldwide. You must enroll, however, and you can do it here. Word to the wise: Don't download the Boingo apps on your computer or mobile device. They are incredibly invasive and not necessary to access Boingo hotspots. ... WestJet says its passengers can now use their mobile devices during all phases of a flight. The Canadian government last week cleared end-to-end use of personal electronic on Canadian carriers. ... American Airlines will install Gogo in-flight WiFi on the 30 new Bombardier CRJ-900s that are entering service starting this month.

Curio, Hilton's New Brand, Will Imitate Marriott's Autograph Collection
Hilton Hotels announced a new brand this week called Curio. It's a blatant copy of the Autograph Collection, a brand Marriott launched in 2009 to aggregate independent properties. Just as Autograph properties rely on the Marriott booking engine and allow travelers to earn and burn their Marriott Rewards points, Curio will be bookable via Hilton and permit customers to earn and burn Hilton HHonors points. The first properties to adopt the Curio moniker are the Sam Houston Hotel in Houston; the SLS Resort in Las Vegas; the Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City, South Dakota; and the Franklin Hotel in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. More information on Curio is here. ... Speaking of Marriott, there's a burst of new properties this week from the lodging giant. There's a 92-room TownePlace Suites in Lancaster, California, and an 88-room TownePlace in Cheyenne, Wyoming; an 84-room Fairfield Inn in Austin on US Highway 183N and a 92-room branch in Twin Falls, Idaho; and a 102-room Courtyard in Buffalo, New York.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
The Department of Transportation fined Southwest Airlines $200,000 for violating advertising rules last year. The infraction? Southwest advertised sale prices to some markets but did not make any seats available at the price. Since this is its second advertising violation in a year, Southwest will be required to pay the entire fine, as well as $100,000 that had been forgiven after its first infraction last year. ... Ritz-Carlton has put its name on the Abama Golf and Spa Resort in Tenerife, Canary Islands. It has managed the property as an independent since 2007. But don't hurry. The hotel is about to undergo a rooms renovation and a Ritz-Carlton Club level has to be built.

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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.