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THE BRIEFING FOR JUNE 12 - JUNE 26, 2014
By Joe Brancatelli
· Monkey See, United Do: MileagePlus Mimics Delta
· Good News and Bad on American-US Air Merger
· Hyatt Opens an Andaz in Tokyo's Minato District
· United Opens Another Club at San Francisco Hub
· Uber Runs Into Trouble in California and Europe
· Enterprise Is The New Number 2 at the Airports
· Hilton Opens Another Garden Inn in Manhattan
Monkey See, United Do: MileagePlus Mimics SkyMiles on Earnings
Since C-suite executives at United Airlines now all apparently wear WWDD (What Would Delta Do) bracelets, it comes as no surprise that MileagePlus said this week that it would exactly duplicate the Delta SkyMiles switch to revenue-based mileage earnings. Effective March 1, general MileagePlus members will earn five miles per fare dollar spent. Elite members will earn from seven (silver) to 11 (1K and Global Services) miles per fare dollar spent. And there are exactly the same quirks as Delta: There's an inexplicable 75,000-mile cap on earnings per ticket; credit for flights on program partners will remain mileage-based if the flights are not "written" with United's 016 ticketing code; and elite-status qualifications remain a mix of miles flown and minimum dollars spent. Details, complete with United's spin, are here. What's it all mean? For most travelers, a lot fewer miles, a double whammy since United also devalued its award chart in February. For a few flyers, especially those who purchase expensive, short-haul flights or higher-priced international seats, it'll mean more miles. Oddities? Delta's 75,000-mile-a-ticket earnings cap isn't brutal because it doesn't have international first class. But many United flights do and that means first-class buyers to destinations such as London, Asia and Australia may have to purchase one-way trips to circumvent the cap. And the cap comes up quickly: If you're a 1K flyer, any ticket costing more than about $6,800 runs up against the cap. Also, Delta has a better chance of getting away with the less-generous revenue system because it has a demonstrably better product than United, which has been hemorrhaging high-value flyers because of its service cutbacks. One saving grace for United: Even with the devaluation, MileagePlus awards are less expensive and more easily obtained than SkyMiles awards.
Good News (Upgrades) and Bad (Closures, Devaluations) at American
Changes, some good and some bad, this week at the merged US Airways and American Airlines. Of most immediate import, American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles members now have reciprocal upgrade privileges. The basic details are here, but, essentially, upgrades on the other carrier will operate almost exactly as they do on the airline where you are currently elite. Upgrades are valid on North American and Caribbean flights. Notable exception: No Hawaii upgrades for US Airways elites. ... Meanwhile, US Airways is closing some US Airways Clubs in American Airlines cities. The club in the Center Pier at Washington/National closed last week, but the North Pier branch will continue to operate. On June 23, the US Air Club in Raleigh-Durham will close. ... On July 1, US Airways' 24 O'Hare departures will operate from Terminal 3, American's base, instead of Terminal 2. However, check-in will continue to be in Terminal 2 until the fall. ... On September 3, US Airways will begin flying Airbus A319s on four Miami routes currently operated by American: to Houston/Intercontinental; Washington/National; Boston; and Newark. There'll be one US Air-marketed flight a day. ... Finally, US Airways is upping award levels to Canada on August 1. It brings prices in line with existing American AAdvantage award levels. Details are here.
Hyatt Opens an Andaz in Tokyo's Minato District
The slow rollout of Andaz, the boutique brand from Hyatt, got a boost this week when a 164-room branch opened in Tokyo's Minato District. The hotel is located in the Toranomon Hills mixed-use, high-rise development that officially opened this week. Andaz rooms, located on floors 47 to 52, are an average of 540 square feet, gigantic by Tokyo hotel standards. ... Last week's Seat 2B column discussed the rapid growth of limited-service hotels around the world. Add Columbia to the list now that a 105-room Hampton Inn opened in Cali. ... A 152-room Holiday Inn has opened in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. And an 80-room Holiday Inn Express has opened in a converted office building in Colorado Springs, Colorado. ... Two Hilton Garden Inn hotels opened in the East: a 135-room branch in Exton, a Philadelphia suburb, and another in Midtown Manhattan, this one on East 52nd Street.
United Opens Another Club at San Francisco Hub
Almost five months after opening its renovated Boarding Area E in Terminal 3 at its San Francisco hub, United Airlines has opened its latest United Club. The 5,000-square-foot branch near the new boarding area is United's third at SFO, joining the clubs at Boarding Area F and in the International Terminal. ... A bag-delivery service is now operating at London/City Airport. The company, AirPortr, will deliver luggage to or from London/City, which is close to the Canary Wharf development. ... A golf-themed restaurant called PGA Tour Grill has opened in Terminal 2 West at San Diego. ... An attack on Karachi Airport on Sunday (June 8) killed dozens of passengers and airport workers. The Pakistani Taliban claimed credit for the attack and the government responded with drone attacks on Taliban strongholds in the country. More details are here.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Uber, the app-based limo service, may be valued at $18 billion in fantasy funding, but it's running into real problems in the real world. The state of California this week told Uber and other ride-sharing services that they can not pick up passengers at the airport. And taxi drivers across Europe snarled traffic on Wednesday (June 11) to express their dissatisfaction with the European Union allowing Uber to operate. ... French railroads were also crippled by a strike on Wednesday and a second day of work stoppages are planned for tomorrow (June 13). ... Avis can no longer claim to be No. 2 and trying harder--at least not at the airport. According to 2013 revenue at the nation's 50 largest airports, Hertz leads with a 36.1 percent market share. Enterprise, which also includes National and Alamo, is now a close second with 33.2 percent. Avis and its Budget subsidiary have slipped to third with 26 percent.
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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.