The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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Business Travel Briefing for May 18-May 31, 2017
The briefing in brief: EU resistance temporarily delays the electronics ban. Boston/Logan gets more lie-flat flights. Air Canada adds six new winter routes to warm-weather destinations. Marriott is growing faster than any other hotel chain. And much more.
EU Resistance Temporarily Derails the Electronics Ban Another Week
Ferocious resistance from European nations--and continuing disarray in the Trump Administration--has delayed imposition of an electronics ban for another week. Homeland Security, which has been eager to take our laptops and tablets on flights from Europe for at least a month, has agreed to meet again next week with its EU counterparts. So it's hard to see anything happening until around the Memorial Day weekend. What has led Homeland Security to back off, at least temporarily? Start with the fact that President Trump revealed the Israeli intelligence on laptop-battery bombs to the Russians in the Oval Office before Homeland Security updated our supposed intel-sharing partners: Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Add the fact that the Europeans simply don't see a threat that justifies the chaos surrounding a ban affecting about 3,600 weekly U.S.-bound flights that depart from around 60 European airports. And, of course, there's the economic toll on the airlines and businesses, a number that is in the billions of dollars annually. Finally, there's the elephant in the cargo cabin: Lithium-battery powered devices are dangerous because their fires burn too hot to be extinguished by the halon-based fire-suppression systems used in the bellies of aircraft. Putting electronics in the cargo hold might defeat terrorists, but it raises a horrendous safety risk that airlines cannot currently solve.
Boston Gets More Flights With Lie-Flat Beds
Although JetBlue Airways increasingly dominates Boston/Logan, the legacy carriers are not going to sleep. Well, they are, but that's the point. United is adding lie-flat beds on all flights from Boston to its San Francisco hub. Beginning June 8, the route will be serviced with a mix of international aircraft with 16 lie-flat beds and United p.s. service equipment with 28 lie-flat seat beds. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines is adding lie-flat beds on its route from Logan to its Minneapolis hub. The airline will add Delta One-equipped flights starting in the first quarter.
Fort Lauderdale, which is JetBlue's other focus city beyond its New York/Kennedy home, is getting more service. Effective November 16, there'll be a daily flight to Salt Lake City.
Escape Lounges, which operate in Hartford, Oakland and Minneapolis/St. Paul, now honor American Express Platinum cards for complimentary entry. The Escape Lounge is the only club in Hartford and the only non-Delta lounge at MSP.
American AAdvantage Juggles Upgrade Priorities
American AAdvantage last year said that it would shuffle upgrade priority and add complimentary upgrades on award tickets for ConciergeKey and Executive Platinum members. Now we know when the changes will go into effect: Saturday (May 20). Upgrades now will be prioritized by elite status, type of upgrade, EQDs (elite qualifying dollars) earned in the past 12 months, booking class and time of request. More details are here.
Delta SkyMiles has added Lyft as an earnings partner. If you link accounts, you'll receive one SkyMile per dollar spent (and triple miles during the introductory period). New Lyft users will also receive a one-time $20 credit. More details are here.
Air Canada Adds More International and Cross-Border Flights
Air Canada continues to expand and its current tranche of newbies is aimed at seasonal, warm-weather destinations. The longest haul: Vancouver-Melbourne, Australia, flights. The four-times-weekly service will operate from December 1 to February 4 using Boeing 787s. Later in the month, it will add Rouge runs on five routes: Vancouver-Orlando; Toronto to Belize City and St. Vincent; and Montreal to both Lima, Peru, and Phoenix. Those routes will operate into the spring.
Delta Air Lines is adding a flight from its New York/Kennedy hub to Rio de Janeiro on December 21. The daily flights to Jobim Airport will operate with Boeing 767-400s configured with 40 business class seatbeds, 28 Comfort+ chairs and 178 coach seats.
KLM is resuming flights from Amsterdam to Mumbai. Effective October 29, there'll be three weekly Boeing 787 flights. KLM dropped the route in 2001 and it was briefly picked by its partner Northwest Airlines and, later, Delta Air Lines.
Marriott, Already the Biggest, Is Growing Faster Than Anyone, Too
Marriott bubbled to the top of the lodging charts when it gobbled up Starwood, but it's also growing organically faster than any hotel company. According to the analysis firm Lodging Economics, Marriott has 163,000 more rooms under development over more than 1,250 properties. Fastest-growing Marriott brands: Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites. Surprised that those limited-service brands are growing the most rapidly? Don't be. A new analysis from STR, another major lodging consultancy, says limited-service operations are the most efficient to operate and the most profitable for owners and investors.
Best Western has picked up 180 properties in Scandinavia by purchasing Sweden Hotels. The chain will be rebranded Best Western och Sweden.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
Trump Travel Ban 2.0, currently on hold due to restraining orders issued by the fourth and ninth federal circuit courts, had another day in court this week. On Monday (May 15), the ninth circuit heard the government's request to lift the restraining order. Arguments again centered on the government's claim that the ban was not aimed at Muslims. Plaintiffs argued that President Trump's campaign pledge to impose such a Muslim ban could not be ignored.
American Airlines and fellow Oneworld Alliance member Air Berlin have ended their code-share relationship. That is not a surprise since Air Berlin has leased a huge chunk of its fleet, employees and routes to Lufthansa, a member of the Star Alliance.
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