The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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Business Travel Briefing for May 11-May 25, 2017
The briefing in brief: Homeland Security is poised to ban electronics on flights from Europe. Air Canada is dumping Aeroplan. El Al will return to Miami for the first time in a decade. The terminal chaos at LAX starts on Friday. More airport clubs open. And much more.
Homeland Security Seems Determined to Make Our Business Travel Lives Miserable
The lunatics who run the Homeland Security asylum did not ban laptop computers and tablets on aircraft headed from Europe to the United States today (May 11)--something many airlines and media outlets expected. But that seems only a temporary reprieve. Citing threats that only British security agencies have agreed with (and then only partially), Homeland Security is poised to extend the ban first imposed in March on flights from many Middle East airports. Although exact details remain unknown, sources tell me and other news outlets that Homeland Security is ready to ban electronics (except mobile phones) on virtually all flights headed from European airports to the United States. Homeland Security officials briefed Congressional leaders on the ban today and both U.S. and European carriers have been told to expect the new restrictions. In fact, there were only two reasons the ban didn't go into effect today. For starters, Homeland Security can't explain how stowing dozens of devices powered by dangerous lithium batteries in airline cargo holds is safe. Plus the negative blowback to President Trump's abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday evening made Homeland Security officials wary. Stay tuned, however, because the government seems intent on following this reckless, business-destroying path. In the meantime, check my tips for coping here and read David Rowell coming from a slightly different angle. And maybe get familiar with Air Canada's international route network. Canadian security officials flatly rejected Homeland Security's assessment in March. (Australia and other nations that have access to U.S. intelligence also refused to act.) There's no reason to assume the Canadians will go along now and subject European routes into Canada to such a ridiculous stricture.
Air Canada Is Dumping Aeroplan. Hurry! The Deadline Is Just Three Years Away!
Air Canada announced this morning (May 11) that it will dump Aeroplan as its frequent flyer program. Eventually. Aeroplan, which Air Canada spun off as a separate company a decade ago, will cease to be the airline's plan in June, 2020. In the interim, you'll earn and burn Aeroplan points as usual. When the split comes, however, your points will stay with Aeroplan and Air Canada will launch a new program from scratch. Aeroplan says you'll still be able to claim Air Canada seats after the split, but Star Alliance and other options will disappear. With a three-year heads up you should be able to manage things. Air Canada explains its side of the story here. Aeroplan explains its side here. And here's the CBC News take and details on Thursday's stock plunge at Aimia, Aeroplan's publicly traded parent company.
El Al Returns to Miami for the First Time in a Decade
El Al launched a route from Miami to Tel Aviv in 2006, but dumped the flights in 2008 during the global financial crisis. A decade later, however, the Israeli carrier will return. Starting in November, there will be three weekly Boeing 777-200 nonstops a week. Speaking of Miami, SAS Scandinavian says it will launch a weekly flight to Stockholm beginning October 29.
Copa Airlines will launch a daily flight from Denver to Panama City, Panama, beginning on December 11. Copa's Star Alliance partner, United Airlines, briefly flew the route in 2014 and 2015.
Uzbekistan Airways is fiddling with its newly announced service from New York/Kennedy Airport. There'll now be once-weekly nonstops to Tashkent and once-weekly flights on a JFK-Riga, Latvia-Tashkent routing. The Boeing 787-8 service begins next week.
Here Comes the Boom (and the Inevitable Chaos) at LAX
A reminder: The big terminal migration begins tomorrow (May 12) at Los Angeles International. Delta Air Lines moves to Terminals 2 and 3 from its current location in Terminals 5 and 6. Delta's move puts most of the other LAX carriers on the carousel. Terminal 1 is dedicated to Southwest Airlines and Terminal 4 to American Airlines. Terminal 5 will house additional American flights, JetBlue Airways and Hawaiian Airlines. Terminal 6 will be home to Air Canada and Alaska Airlines/Virgin America. Terminals 7 and 8 are dedicated to United Airlines and its commuter carriers. For details on the relocations, surf here. This is what Delta says you should do to avoid the problems it'll inevitably cause.
San Francisco is where United Airlines is making its metaphoric stand in California. While it has been shrinking at LAX, it continues to build its SFO hub. Previously announced flights to seven new cities start next month. And in August, United says it'll add additional flights on eight routes and add larger aircraft on ten more runs. That'll bring United to about 300 daily departures from SFO.
Portland, Maine, gets another route to New York. Effective September 10, Delta Air Lines will operate a daily regional-jet flight to its New York/JFK hub.
Baltimore/Washington has a new lounge option. The folks who operate Priority Pass have opened The Club in Concourse D near Gate 10. The 2,200-square-foot club is in the space once occupied by the AerSpace Lounge, which closed last year.
Midway Airport in Chicago embarks on a major realignment of its food and beverage operations. Starting tomorrow (May 12), restaurants such as Harry Caray's, McDonald's and Potbelly Sandwiches will be replaced by outlets selling pizza (Home Run Inn), sushi (Tabo Sushi) and burritos (DeColores).
Is The World Ready for Four Points Hotels? And Why Would It Be?
I'm not sure anyone counts the Four Points chain as their favorite. But the Starwood brand--now a part of Marriott, of course--has been opening in the oddest places these days. For example, there's a new 72-room branch in Kolasin, Montenegro; a 194-room outpost in Danzhou on the Chinese island of Hainan; and a newly built property in Hakodate, Japan. Meanwhile, Element, another Starwood-turned-Marriott brand, has opened a 252-room hotel in Kuala Lumpur. It is housed in the Ilham Tower, the fifth-tallest building in the Malaysian capital. Boy, the world is a better place now.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
Southwest Airlines transitioned to a new passenger-service computer system this week--and you didn't hear about it. That is the best thing you can ever say about an airline's computer transition.
Acela Express riders in the Northeast Corridor take note: Dunkin' Donuts is now the coffee available for sale in the cafe car. Amtrak says Dunkin' coffee will also be the java of choice on all Northeast Regional trains by the end of the year.
United Airlines has made a big deal about "making amends" in light of its treatment of Dr. David Dao. The reality, however, is that United continues to make life miserable for its customers. The latest slight: United has ended its "interline" agreement with five Middle Eastern airlines. That means no through-ticketing, no single tickets and no checked-luggage transfer. The affected carriers include Emirates, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian and Saudia.
Delta Air Lines runs a chintzy frequent flyer program, but it sure knows how to reward former executives. Richard Anderson retired last year and was awarded $72 million worth of Delta stock, according to figures in an SEC filing.
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