The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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Business Travel Briefing for May 27-June 8, 2017
The briefing in brief: The TSA is testing more dumb checkpoint rules. Candidate Trump trumps President Trump as an appeal court continues ban on travel ban. Delta and Aeromexico will add new flights. Big hotel chains finally add some new full-service properties. And much more.
If You're Not in TSA PreCheck, Your Life Is Going to Get Worse Fast
As poorly as TSA manages PreCheck, there's simply no reason not to be a member, especially since many credit card companies and some airlines will comp the $85 fee. Now there is more reason to get your membership: The TSA is testing even more annoying rules at the nation's security checkpoints for travelers who don't have PreCheck privileges. Without advance notice--as usual--non-PreCheck travelers at ten airports are now required to separate larger electronics into separate bins for X-ray screening. This comes after the private screeners at Kansas City last month briefly demanded travelers remove paper from their carry-ons. The new electronics rules, which the TSA calls "de-cluttering," are supposedly only in the test phase. Affected airports are Boise; Boston; Colorado Springs; Detroit/Metro; Fort Lauderdale; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Lubbock; Phoenix; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Without a substantial pushback, the new rules almost certainly will be expanded nationwide because the TSA specializes in finding incredibly ineffective and picayune ways to annoy us. Separately, however, TSA did deliver some good news. PreCheck is now available at seven more international airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines and COPA. Surf here for a list of the 37 domestic and international carriers that support PreCheck.
Alaska Airlines Adds Finnair As Earn and (Eventually) Burn Partner
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has added another useful partner: Finnair, which offers connections throughout Eastern Europe and to Asia via its Helsinki hub. Alaska Airlines travelers can earn miles on Finnair flights immediately, but no award structure has yet been announced.
Southwest Rapid Rewards members will have two more Central America routes to choose for awards. Effective in November, Southwest will fly daily from Fort Lauderdale to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and San Jose, Costa Rica.
Delta SkyMiles members will have a new warm-weather route for awards, too. Effective December 23, Delta will fly a weekly Boeing 757 flight from its New York/Kennedy hub to St. Kitts and Nevis.
Delta and Aeromexico Will Fly More North-South Service
Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico now have a joint-venture operation and have announced the first flying fruits of the arrangement. Pending government approval, the airlines will add five new routes: Atlanta-Merida; Atlanta-Queretaro; Los Angeles-Leon; Seattle-Mexico City; and Portland-Mexico City. The carriers will also add additional flights on several existing routes.
Avianca will launch daily flights between Miami and Sao Paulo. Effective June 23, an Airbus A330-200 with 238 seats will operate on the route.
Wow Air, the low-fare/high-fee carrier based in Iceland, is adding a Reykjavik-Tel Aviv route. Effective September 12, there will be four weekly flights using Airbus A321-aircraft. That opens the possibility of connecting over Reykjavik to Israel from about a dozen U.S. cities.
Candidate Trump Trumps President Trump Again: Court Continues Ban on Travel Ban
A 13-judge panel of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals today (Thursday, May 25) ruled against President Trump's second attempt at a travel ban. In a 10-3 ruling, the court refused to upset a lower court ruling that halted President Trump's attempt to temporarily ban citizens from six mostly Muslim Middle East nations. As before, many of the ten judges who voted in the majority cited Candidate Trump's call for a blanket Muslim ban and his other inflammatory rhetoric. "From the highest elected office in the nation has come an Executive Order steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group," wrote Chief Judge Roger Gregory, whose majority opinion was supported by six other members of the bench. "The Government's asserted national security interest appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country." The three dissenting judges furiously rejected the majority's reliance on campaign rhetoric and predicted the ruling will be overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court, something the White House promptly stated it would do. (To read the entire ruling as well as dissenting and concurring opinions, surf here.) To refresh your memory: The 4th Circuit ruling is less broad than the ban imposed by the 9th Circuit. Hearings on the government's appeal of that ruling were held last week. And the legal jockeying is over the second Trump Executive Order, issued in March. Trump pulled back his initial Executive Order, signed January 27, after losing in all legal venues involved.
Some New Full Service Openings Among the Limited-Service Glut
Major hotel chains are focusing almost exclusively on expanding their limited-service brands, but that doesn't mean you can't find some new full-service properties. For example, InterContinental has opened its first Kimpton property overseas. The 274-room Kimpton DeWitt in Amsterdam has been carved from a building that once housed the Crowne Plaza City Center. Meanwhile, Hilton has opened an eponymous property in the ExpoForum developments in St. Petersburg, Russia. Hyatt has opened a Park Hyatt in the central business district of Bangkok. And Marriott has opened a 436-room St. Regis in the Jing'an District of Shanghai.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
The first budget proposed by the Trump Administration this week eliminates the $27 million that the government spends on Brand USA, the umbrella marketing campaign to promote tourism. That is ironic since international tourism to the United States has dropped sharply since President Trump's election, partially due to the strong dollar and partially since some travelers think the new administration is hostile to visitors.
Autograph Collection, the amalgam of independent hotels marketed by Marriott, now has a science-themed property. The 195-room EMC2 Hotel has opened on East Ontario in Chicago. The property even has a 120-room restaurant called The Albert. You know, as in Einstein ...
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