The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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Business-Travel Briefing for May 12-26, 2016
The briefing in brief: Airlines (literally) have you coming and going. ANA launches flights to Tokyo/Haneda from New York and Chicago. Alaska's Mileage Plan adds another international partner. Marriott adds a slew of limited-service hotels. BWI's only lounge switches brands. And more.
The Airlines (Literally) Have You Coming and Going (on the Same Flight Number)
You're not crazy. Your last roundtrip may have actually used the same flight number for the outbound and inbound segments. Why? Airlines are literally running out of flight numbers thanks to the demands of code-sharing and the hidebound ways computer reservation systems display those code-shares. Once upon a time, odd numbers were used for all flights in one direction and even numbers in the reverse direction. And when flights did share a number, it was because they represented an onward itinerary. (One example: At American Airlines, Flight 66 covers the 7:05 a.m. departure from San Francisco to New York/JFK and then the onward segment, a 5:50 p.m. departure from JFK to Madrid.) No more. You may now find that your flight in both directions carries the same number. One example: At Delta Air Lines, Flight 1425 covers a 1:53 p.m. departure from Atlanta to Baltimore/Washington. The MD-88 arrives at BWI at 3:49 p.m. That same MD-88 then becomes the 4:30 p.m. departure from BWI back to Atlanta.
ANA Launches Flights to Close-in Tokyo/Haneda From Chicago and New York/Kennedy
U.S. carriers are battling each other for a limited number of so-called "daylight hour" slots at Tokyo's close-in Haneda airport, a much more appealing facility than distant Narita Airport. But while the U.S. airlines jump through hoops before the U.S. Transportation Department, the Japanese carriers have already been awarded their new Haneda slots by the Japanese government. That explains how All Nippon Airways was able to announce this week that it would launch nonstop flights to Haneda from both New York/Kennedy and Chicago/O'Hare. The flights begin on October 30. ANA hasn't decided if it'll reduce flights on its current routes to Narita from JFK and O'Hare.
Marriott has added new hotels in far-flung corners of the world. It has opened a 351-room property in Taizhou in the Chinese province of Zhejiang and a 164-room outlet in Skopje, Macedonia.
Tunisair, the flag carrier of Tunisia, begins service to Canada next month. Two weekly Airbus A330-200 flights will operate between Montreal and the capital of Tunis.
Alaska's Mileage Plan Adds Another Major International Partner
The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan continues to gain fans because it hasn't substantially devalued and it remains mileage-based, not revenue-based. As an unaligned carrier, Alaska also has stacked Mileage Plan with an impressive array of more than a dozen international partners. This week it added another: Japan Airlines. Besides a code-share that is scheduled to launch June 29, Alaska says Mileage Plan members will be able to earn miles on JAL flights beginning in the summer and claim awards on JAL flights later in the year.
Wyndham Rewards has added several new perks and three elite levels. Effective May 18, program members now receive complimentary WiFi at all Wyndham properties. Reaching gold level requires five nights of stays and the best perk is late check-out guaranteed to be two hours after a hotel's standard departure time. Platinum level members (15 nights) receive an annual 3,000-point bonus and early check-in guaranteed to be two hours before standard arrival time at the property. Reaching the Diamond elite level requires 40 nights and includes a 6,000-point bonus and suite upgrades. Complete details are here.
United MileagePlus members take note: Turkish Airlines is adding three weekly flights from its Istanbul hub to Mahe in the Seychelles. Service launches October 31. That should make additional awards to the Seychelles available.
Marriott Really Hopes You're In the Mood for Some Limited-Service Hotels
As it prepares to gobble up Starwood and its portfolio of mostly full-service and deluxe hotels, Marriott is busily building out its portfolio of limited-service brands. Everywhere you look, in fact, you're likely to find a new Marriott property. In the Philadelphia suburbs, for example, there's a new 127-room Residence Inn in Malvern and a 108-room Fairfield Inn in Willow Grove. The TownePlace Suites brand has added locations in Swedesboro, New Jersey; Aberdeen, North Carolina; Bakersfield, California; and Harmarville, Pennsyvania, about 30 miles from Pittsburgh Airport. And Marriott's SpringHill Suites brand has opened two properties in Texas, a 128-room outlet on Talavera Ridge in San Antonio and a 96-room branch on North Riverside Drive in Fort Worth.
Starwood has converted a former Hotel Indigo in Scottsdale, Arizona, into a 126-room Aloft property. The hotel started life as a Hampton Inn and converted to Hotel Indigo in 2006.
BWI's Only Lounge Is Switching Brands--Eventually
The only public lounge at Baltimore-Washington International is closing at the end of the month and will eventually reopen under a new flag. The Airspace Lounge on Concourse D shuts on May 27 when its five-year lease expires. If all goes according to plan, it will undergo a renovation and reopen before the end of the year as a branch of The Club, the lounge network operated by the company that owns Priority Pass. Ironically, Airspace is one of the few common-use lounge networks that has never accepted Priority Pass. Just call it airport karma. (By the way, Priority Pass members already can access the Chesapeake Club Lounge in BWI's international terminal.)
Beijing/Capital Airport Terminal 3 has closed its business class security line. Unless you have an APEC Card, prepare for long lines and no special treatment.
Salt Lake City, Delta's hub, is getting some competition on the route to Newark. At the moment, Delta is the only nonstop carrier. Effective, December 16, however, United will fill out its Newark hub with a daily nonstop using Boeing 737-700s.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
Robert McGarvey explained last week why he's off Gogo, the in-flight WiFi provider. He's apparently not alone. For the first three months of 2016, Gogo's uptake rates fell to 6.5 percent compared to 7.2 percent of passengers in 2015. The company's monthly revenue per aircraft declined, too. In the first quarter, it generated $11,137 per aircraft compared to $11,163 last year.
Delta Air Lines says it will turn flights from its Seattle hub to Los Angeles and San Francisco into a "shuttle service." What does that mean? Not more flights, but a few small perks: free newspapers, free in-flight booze and snacks and dedicated check-in counters.
Germany travelers take note: The German governing coalition has agreed to relax restrictive WiFi rules that held providers responsible for any copyright infringement or piracy by users. With the so-called "provider liability" strictures eliminated, more businesses are likely to offer WiFi service.
This column is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. 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.