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THE BRIEFING FOR JUNE 26 - JULY 10, 2014
By Joe Brancatelli

· How Airlines Subvert Revenue-Based Programs
· Starbucks Finally Arrives at Philadelphia Airport
· Qantas, Air Canada Open New Airport Lounges
· Ever Heard of The Chinese Chain Called Marriott?
· Customs Kiosks Installed at Newark Terminal C
· British Airways Dumps First on Three Routes
· Delta Quietly Backs Off on Transcon Upgrades


How Airlines Subvert Revenue-Based Programs
I'm a big fan of revenue-based frequent-travel plans because, by definition, they reward us, the folks who pay the most. Of course, Delta Air Lines and monkey-see, monkey-do acolyte United Airlines have subverted the basic concept. Their new revenue-based earning schemes are a backdoor devaluation because they have scaled them to dramatically reduce the total number of miles virtually all travelers earn. If you want a glaring example of the subversion, consider this revamped SkyMiles promotion from Hertz. For several years, Hertz offered a fairly straightforward deal: Rent for a day and get 600 SkyMiles--or 700 SkyMiles if you were a Medallion Elite member. For each day you rented, you got more. At the top of the chart, a one-week rental was worth 2,700 miles for general members and 3,400 miles for Medallion elites. But this week the promotion changed and Hertz and Delta adopted a new earnings formula. Now no one earns 3,400 miles for a one-week rental. If you're Platinum or Diamond Medallion, seven-day earnings top out at 3,350 miles. Silver and Gold Medallion members have been cut to 3,100 miles for a seven-day rental. General members see their seven-day earnings slashed to 1,900 miles from the previous 2,700.

Starbucks Now Officially Everywhere...Including Philadelphia Airport
Starbucks addicts take note: The last place on the planet without a kiosk, Philadelphia Airport, now has a Starbucks. It is located in the Marketplace in the B/C Connector that, well, connects Terminals B and C. And for those of us who despise Starbucks, we have no choice but to welcome our new burnt-bean overloads. ... After moving into the new Queens Terminal (Terminal 2) at London/Heathrow earlier this month, Air Canada has opened an International Maple Leaf lounge there. ... Speaking of new clubs, Qantas has opened a lounge for business-class flyers at Los Angeles. Located on Level 5 of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, the lounge has nine shower suites and food carts offering ethnic dishes. ... Twenty automated passport control kiosks have been installed in Newark. They are located in the customs hall of Terminal C, where United Airlines operates most of its international flights. ... Baltimore/Washington has ripped out unused pay phones on Concourse D and replaced them with charging stations. The new, um, juice bars are near Gates D7, D20 and D27.

Ever Heard of That Chinese Hotel Chain Called Marriott?
Marriott has opened its second JW Marriott in Beijing, this one in Xicheng in the heart of the Chinese capital. The 412-room property is Marriott's 11th in Beijing and it has 21 hotels in Shanghai. How fast is Marriott growing in China? It has so many hotels in the pipeline that one new Marriott-branded lodging a month will open its doors until 2017. ... Marriott has also opened a 123-room Courtyard in Nashville's Green Hills district; an 80-room Fairfield Inn in The Dalles, Oregon; and a 110-room Renaissance in Paris' Saint-Cloud suburb. ... Hyatt opened a 145-room Hyatt Place in Champaign, Illinois. ... There are new Hampton Inn hotels in familiar places. The 300-room property in the city center of Warsaw is the second in the Polish capital. There's already a Hampton at Warsaw Airport. Meanwhile, an 81-room Hampton opened at 32 Pearl Street in New York's Financial District. It's the second Hampton on Pearl Street and the 10th on Manhattan island. ... Three new properties from Starwood this week. In Tampa, a 100-year-old former federal courthouse has been remade into a 130-room Le Meridien. A 191-room Aloft has opened in the Prestige Cessna Business Park in Bengaluru, India. And a 298-room Sheraton opened in Reserva do Paiva, Brazil.

British Airways Dumping First Class on Three American Routes
British Airways is dropping first-class cabins on three routes from Canada and the United States as it retires its aging Boeing 747-400s. Effective with the start of the "winter" schedule on October 26, BA will go to a business-premium economy-coach configuration on flights to London from Phoenix, Las Vegas and Vancouver. ... Delta Air Lines is launching service to Bridgetown, Barbados, on December 4. There will be two flights a week from Delta's New York/Kennedy and Atlanta hubs. Claiming lack of passenger interest, Delta dropped flights to Barbados in 2011 after a five-year run. ... After months of dickering, Etihad of Abu Dhabi has agreed to purchase 49 percent of perennially ailing Alitalia. Italian sources claim Etihad is prepared to throw away (sorry, invest) upwards of $1.5 billion in Alitalia over the next four years. Air France/KLM, which invested in Alitalia several years ago, has written off its interest. Etihad owns an equity stake in several other European airlines, including Aer Lingus, Air Berlin and Air Serbia. ... Air India joins the Star Alliance on July 11. No truth to the rumor that Air India was finally allowed into Star so United Airlines can claim it's no longer the worst in the 26-carrier operation.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Delta Air Lines transcon flyers take note: Chris McGinnis says that some super-elite SkyMiles members are now receiving complimentary upgrades on coast-to-coast flights. Delta confirms the change, but insists that its no-transcon-upgrades policy officially remains on the books. ... For all the whining about checked-bag fees, it turns out airlines now collect almost as much on ticket-change fees. According to government statistics for the first quarter, U.S. carriers collected $791 million in baggage charges and $726 million in ticket-change fees. ... A federal judge in Oregon ruled this week that the TSA and Homeland Security Department must offer due process to travelers on the no-fly list. U.S. District Court judge Anna Brown ordered the government to disclose unclassified information about why travelers were barred from flying. She also criticized the government because "it does not provide a meaningful mechanism to correct erroneous information in the government's terrorism databases." You can read the entire ruling here.

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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.