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THE BRIEFING FOR JULY 17 - JULY 31, 2014
By Joe Brancatelli
· JetBlue's Business Class 'Pretty Much Sold Out'
· Lost in Translation: Airlines Cut Flights to Narita
· A Hampton Inn Grows in (Hipster) Brooklyn
· Frankfurt Adds Free WiFi, But Beer's in Honolulu
· Boeing 787 Dreamliner Still Isn't Reliable Enough
· Kimpton Remakes, Renames Frequent-Guest Plan
· Delta Will End Its Flights to Monrovia, Liberia
JetBlue's Mint Business Class 'Pretty Much Sold Out' So Far
JetBlue Airways launched lie-flat business-class beds on its New York/JFK-Los Angeles route about a month ago and early results are encouraging. One JoeSentMe member who flew it this month dubbed the product "minty fresh" and thought it was a great value for the price, which is $599 or $799 one-way or $999 one-way for unrestricted ticketed. And JetBlue president Robin Hayes says Mint "has pretty much sold out" so far. He says "the overwhelming number of seats have been sold at the $599 and $799 price points." And while JetBlue says it launched the service as a defensive product to stem defection of its own customers on transcon routes, Hayes says "a significant number" of early Mint buyers have been first-time JetBlue flyers. Mint is now on most JetBlue flights between Los Angeles and JFK and it will roll out on the New York-San Francisco-New York run in October. Does Mint have a life beyond the traditional "Transcon Triangle" routes? Hayes was noncommittal, but says he could see "transcon deployment out of Boston," JetBlue's second-largest hub.
Lost in Translation: Airlines Cut Flights to Tokyo/Narita
Decades of financial malaise in Japan is taking its toll on flights into Tokyo's Narita Airport. Airlines have been pulling down Narita capacity for months and the launch of additional flights to close-in Haneda Airport has added to the pressure. Among the latest reduction of flights to Narita: United Airlines is trimming at least three flights a week from its Houston route beginning October 26; Air Canada is grounding Toronto-Narita flights between October 25 and March 27; and Lufthansa is ending first-class service on its service into Narita. Lufthansa also cancelled its entire flight schedule into Narita this month. ... Hyatt has opened its first Hyatt Place hotel in South America. The 160-room property is in the fashionable Vitacura district of Santiago, Chile. ... Delta Air Lines has given up on flights to Monrovia, Liberia. It has been operating to the Liberian capital as an extension of its three weekly flights between New York/Kennedy and Accra, Ghana. Flights on the Accra-Monrovia run end on August 31.
A Hampton Inn Grows in (Hipster) Brooklyn
It was 1998 when I went home to Brooklyn to write about the opening of the first hotel in the borough in decades. Now, of course, Brooklyn is a hipster paradise and worldwide brand, of course, and TripAdvisor.com says there are at least 50 hotels in my old hometown across the East River from Manhattan. And wherever there are hotels, there is guaranteed to be a Hampton Inn. Which explains why the 117-room Hampton Inn Brooklyn Downtown is now open and operating on Flatbush Avenue, in what has been a seedy strip of warehouses. ... Also from the Hilton Family this week: a 117-room DoubleTree in Newark, Ohio; Homewood Suites in St. Jacobs, Ontario (97 rooms); the Ballantyne district of Charlotte (117 rooms); and the Cincinnati suburb of Mason (115 rooms); and Hampton Inn hotels at 411 South Flores Street in San Antonio (108 rooms); Pearsall, Texas (70 rooms); and Ada, Oklahoma (76 rooms). ... Marriott has opened a 76-room Fairfield Inn in Norco, California, and a 105-room Courtyard in Pearl, Mississippi. ... InterContinental opened a 113-room Holiday Inn Express in Calgary, Alberta, and its second Even Hotel, this one a 167-room property in Rockville, Maryland.
Frankfurt Adds Free WiFi, But the Beer's in Honolulu
Frankfurt now offers free, 24/7 WiFi at more than 300 points around the sprawling airport. Until now, passengers could only use the free WiFi for 60 minutes per visit. ... HMS Host, the gigantic airport food-service operator, is adding beer and wine kiosks at Honolulu. The first is already open at Gate 49 in the interisland terminal. A second may be open by the time you read this at Gate 21 in the international terminal. A third is due to open next month in the central concourse area. But be warned: You cannot bring your beer or wine to the gate. Beverages must be consumed at the kiosks. ... The FlyAway bus that services Los Angeles International now operates from Santa Monica. The bus stop is across from the Civic Auditorium on Pico Boulevard. FlyAway is also planning to open a route from Hollywood in September. Depending on the run, FlyAway costs $8-$10 one-way.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
More than two years after the Dreamliner launched in commercial service and more than a year after the aircraft was briefly grounded, the Boeing 787 aircraft still isn't performing reliably. That's not a critic's view, but the assessment of Boeing itself. The 160 Dreamliners in service worldwide now have an operational rate of 98 percent. "That number is not where we would like it to be. We were expecting to have it increase," admitted Randy Neville, Boeing's chief Dreamliner test pilot. The 787 has logged more than 500,000 commercial flying hours and the widebody is used by 21 carriers. ... The frequent-guest plan of Kimpton Hotels has been renamed Kimpton Karma and the former InTouch program has gotten something of an overhaul. Karma has four elite levels instead of the two used by InTouch. Free nights still require seven stays or 20 nights. ... Airlines begin reporting second-quarter earnings next week and United Airlines looks like it'll be the laggard again. United today (July 17) said it will take about $169 million in special charges due to retirements in its ridiculously large fleet of regional jets and the closing of the Cleveland hub.
Thank Heavens No One Uses Hotel Business Centers Anymore
Bob McGarvey has a chilling piece about hackers targeting the computers in hotel business centers. The saving grace? When was the last time we used the computer in a hotel business center?
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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.