The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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Business-Travel Briefing for December 17-31, 2015
The briefing in brief: Kuwait Airways drops its New York-London route because ... hatred. MileagePlus matches AAdvantage bonus for premium class tickets. Life at the airport gets a little nicer ... and a little easier. Hilton has several new sun and ski redemption options. And more ...
Kuwait Airways Drops New York-London Route Because ... Hatred
Just when you thought xenophobia and naked racial hatred couldn't get any worse, Kuwait Airways said this week that it would drop its New York/Kennedy-London/Heathrow flights. Kuwait Air has flown the route for decades--my first-ever flight to London was on Kuwait in 1985--but now the threadbare Gulf carrier is in an ugly fight with the U.S. Transportation Department. As you recall, the DOT recently ordered Kuwait Airways to stop violating U.S. discrimination laws. Kuwait Air refuses to carry citizens with Israeli passports, claiming that Kuwaiti law bars it from serving Israelis. But in the endlessly weird world of global politics and aviation, Kuwait Airways will continue to fly a nonstop JFK-Kuwait City route. In fact, when you call up that flight, the booking engine of KuwaitAirways.com clearly states, in red capital letters no less, "ISRAELI PASSPORT HOLDERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TRAVEL." Why the dichotomy? The U.S. government says it can impose our anti-discrimination laws on a New York-London flight, but not on the nonstop to Kuwait because that route is governed by international aviation norms. International aviation rules bar travel to places where your country's passport and visas are not valid. And since Israeli passports aren't valid in Kuwait, that little bastion of hatred can continue to infect our shores.
United MileagePlus Matches American AAdvantage, Bumps Up High-Fare Earnings
United Airlines is most frequently in "anything Delta does, we do, too" mode. But this time its frequency program is matching a new American AAdvantage earning strategy for higher priced tickets. Effective January 1, United MileagePlus will bump up the Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM) you earn when you buy first or business class seats. Discounted premium seats (in classes A, C, D, Z and P) will earn a 200 percent bonus, up from this year's 150 percent. And full-fare premium seats (in classes F or J) will earn 300 percent bonuses, up from this year's 150 percent. There are no changes to full-fare or discounted coach earnings. Full details are here.
Hilton HHonors players have a few new ski and sun properties where they can burn points. There's an 88-room Hampton Inn in Silverthorne, Colorado. It's a Category 5 redemption and the hotel offers free shuttles to the Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper Mountain ski areas. Meanwhile, a 96-room Hilton Garden Inn has opened in an historic building on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. It's a Category 9 redemption. And the former Doral Desert Princess in Cathedral City, near Palm Springs, California, has hoisted the DoubleTree by Hilton flag. The 289-room resort is a Category 6 redemption.
IHC Rewards Club now has a property in the heart of Bordeaux, France. The 130-room Le Grand Hotel is now trading as an InterContinental and awards start at 40,000 points.
American AAdvantage players have a new way to claim an award to South Africa. Oneworld Alliance partner Iberia is resuming service from Madrid to Johannesburg in August after a four-year gap. There'll be three weekly flights using Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
MileagePlus members have two new Indian Ocean resort destinations thanks to flights from Star Alliance partner Lufthansa. The German carrier now flies to both the Maldives and Mauritius from Frankfurt using Airbus A340-300 aircraft.
Life at the Airport Gets a Little Nicer--and a Little Easier
Citibank has larded its Citi Prestige card with so many perks, including complimentary day-of-flight use of American Admirals Club airport lounges, that it has overshadowed the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite, Citi's "official" club-access card. But to increase the appeal of the Executive World Elite card, Citi announced this week that it will extend Admirals Club access privileges to authorized users of that card, too. And since as many as ten authorized users are permitted on each card at no additional charge, Executive World Elite cardholders can really spread club access around.
Amsterdam/Schiphol has a new hotel option. A 433-room Hilton, complete with a spa, has opened. It features a covered walkway connection to the airport terminals. This property replaces the hotel Hilton has had on the grounds of Schiphol for more than 40 years.
Phoenix has been added to Enterprise Rent-A-Car's Exotic Car Rental Collection. That means you can rent Ferrari or Mercedes-Benz vehicles at Sky Harbor.
Las Vegas is the newest location for Silvercar, the all-Audi, all-app-driven car-rental firm. The company is taking reservations for Las Vegas rentals beginning January 4.
What? Us Buy? We've Got Our Own Pipeline of New Hotels
The Marriott move to snap up Starwood Hotels has begun a chain of acquisitions that's not likely to end with Accor's decision last week to buy Fairmont. And while Hilton Hotels might be a buyer in the future, it has spent the last several years building an insanely huge development pipeline of new hotels around the world. Here are the newbies just from this week: a 172-room Hilton in Bournemouth, the British seaside resort; Hilton Garden Inn hotels in Montevideo, Uruguay (172 rooms), and Ulyanovsk, Russia (176 rooms); Homewood Suites properties near the 1-35 in Austin; on East River Street in Savannah, Georgia, and near the convention center in Anaheim, California; and a 135-room Home2 Suites in Anchorage and a 93-room Hampton Inn in Tampico, Mexico. Meanwhile, Hilton's Curio soft brand has added the 250-room Campbell House in Lexington, Kentucky, and the 391-room Logan in Philadelphia. That latter property is a remake of the Four Seasons hotel, which closed earlier this year. Meanwhile, the chain's DoubleTree brand has a newly built 209-room property in Reading, Pennsylvania, and has slapped its name on the former Cosmos Insignia Hotel in Bogota, Colombia.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
KLM says it is dropping its seasonal flights from Dallas/Fort Worth to Amsterdam. Instead, it will move the nonstops to Salt Lake City, a hub of its Skyteam Alliance partner Delta Air Lines. Delta already flies the SLC-Amsterdam route.
Hainan Airlines, the privately owned Chinese carrier, has set January 21 as the start of its nonstops between Los Angeles and Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. There'll be two weekly flights using Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.
Los Angeles has the healthiest airport food, according to a survey conducted by the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. Also scoring well: Newark, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Denver. However, the survey only considers vegetarian cuisine "healthy," so, you know, take it with a grain of salt. Or, skip the salt and just be skeptical.
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