The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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Business Travel Briefing for May 3-May 17, 2018
The briefing in brief: New sun runs and beach hotels to burn your miles and points. Useful new clubs at key hub airports. PreCheck for five new international airlines. American will dump Chicago-Beijing route. Video of a nearly catastrophic near miss in San Francisco. And much more.
Useful New Airport Lounges in Two Key Airport Hubs
A bizarre story in The Wall Street Journal this week notwithstanding, we may be in the golden age of airport lounges. More options from a wider variety of sources are opening than ever before. Two new facilities this week are perfect examples. Alaska Airlines opened an Alaska Lounge in Terminal 7 at New York/JFK. The new club occupies a portion of the space once used by the Red Carpet Club. (It closed in 2015 when United Airlines bailed on JFK.) Besides access for Alaska Airlines first class flyers and members of the Alaska Lounge network, the club is open to Priority Pass cardholders. That's important because the only other lounges at T7 belong to British Airways. Priority Pass access to the Alaska club has strings, however. You cannot arrive until three hours before your departing flight and Alaska will limit entry to avoid crowding. Meanwhile, a Minute Suites has opened at Charlotte-Douglas Airport, a big hub for American Airlines. The 24/7 operation in the atrium area just past security includes six, 56-square-foot pods equipped with a daybed, desk, desk chair and a television. Access costs $42 an hour, but it, too, is available free (for the first hour) to Priority Pass members.
New Sun Routes and Beach Hotels to Burn Miles and Points
If you horde miles and points for sunny climes, start planning. Airlines have announced some new routes and hotels have opened new properties that are right where you want to be.
American AAdvantage players take note: American is launching new service to Hawaii and bulking up Caribbean routes. From its Chicago/O'Hare hub there'll be winter flights to Honolulu using Boeing 787-9s. There will also be Saturday flights from ORD to Aruba; Grand Cayman; Nassau; and Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. From Charlotte, there will be year-round Saturday service to Eleuthera and Marsh Harbour Bahamas. From Dallas/Fort Worth, there'll be year-round Saturday service to Aruba. And from Miami, there'll be a year-round Saturday service to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Honolulu service begins December 19, but all the other flights launch December 22.
Marriott Rewards members take note: A 207-room Renaissance has opened on Bali. It is a Category 6 redemption. Closer to home, a 150-room Residence Inn has opened near the boardwalk and beaches of Ocean City, Maryland. It is a Category 9 redemption. (Yeah, go figure, Maryland is more costly than Bali...)
Southwest Rapid Rewards members take note: The airline continues to dribble out details of flights to Hawaii. Last month we learned the carrier will fly to Honolulu; Kona on the Big Island; Maui; and Kauai. This week we learned where the flights will originate: Oakland, San Diego, San Jose and Sacramento. No start dates for the flights have been announced.
Delta SkyMiles flyers take note: Delta is adding seats to the Caribbean. Effective October 1, it'll add a second daily flight on its New York/Kennedy-Nassau route. In December, it will add daily flights to Kingston, Jamaica, and a weekly flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
TSA Adds Five More Carriers to PreCheck
It's like the metaphoric pulling of teeth, but TSA is slowly adding carriers to PreCheck security bypass service. New airlines where PreCheck is now valid: Scandinavian Airlines (SAS); Porter Airlines of Canada; Air Serbia; and Thomas Cook and Condor, the low-fare European carriers with common ownership. Contrary to some published reports, however, TSA has not yet approved British Airways for PreCheck. The new carriers bring to 52 to the number of airlines offering PreCheck. The complete list is here.
Paris/CDG has a new hotel: A 240-room Courtyard by Marriott opened two miles from the terminals. The property reopened after a 15-month renovation and conversion from the Radisson chain. There's a free shuttle to the airport.
New York flyers take note: The NYC Airporter bus service from Grand Central Terminal and the Port Authority is slashing hours and eliminating many runs to LaGuardia and Kennedy. The service may be slow-walking itself to oblivion, so maybe make other arrangements.
Saskatoon is getting an airport club. A 1,500-square-foot Maple Leaf Lounge opens this fall. Which is nifty since Air Canada only operates 17 daily flights from the Saskatchewan facility.
Tampa gets another airport hotel. A 175-room AC by Marriott has opened about three miles from the terminals. There is free shuttle service to the airport.
American Airlines Will Dump Its Chicago-Beijing Route
American Airlines insists that it is committed to building its anemic Asia service, but it continues to act as if Asia is the last place it wants to fly. (Well, maybe last place after Tel Aviv.) American announced this week that it will dump its Chicago/O'Hare-Beijing flights after October 22. Of course, American has shown a remarkable inability to sustain international flying from O'Hare. Among the other routes it has launched and discarded are New Delhi, Moscow, Helsinki and even Frankfurt. For the moment, Beijing flights from American's Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles hubs continue.
Lufthansa launched flights from Fort Myers to Dusseldorf. The five weekly flights are Fort Myers' only Europe nonstops since Air Berlin tanked last year. Lufthansa is using its Eurowings budget division on the run.
Hyatt has opened Grand Hyatt-branded properties in Xi'an, China, and Kochi, India. The 264-room Kochi property is Hyatt's first in the south Indian state of Kerala. The 396-room Xi'an property in the city's high-tech zone is the second Hyatt in the capital of Shaanxi Province.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
United Airlines has named Josh Earnest the company's chief communications officer. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, Earnest was White House press secretary under President Obama. In other words, fire and frying pan stuff ...
Bluesmart, which created the "smart luggage" category, has called it a day. It sold its intellectual assets to Travelpro and shut down. Bluesmart pioneered luggage with batteries to charge mobile phones, tablets and laptops. But the market for those bags collapsed when airlines banned battery-equipped luggage in cargo holds.
The National Transportation Safety Board has released chilling security-camera video of a near-miss last year at San Francisco International. It also released a 500-page report on the incident. As you recall, an Air Canada plane tried to land on an active taxiway where four flights were waiting to take off. The video shows the Air Canada flight--it's the bright light in the upper center of the screen--beginning its approach to the taxiway. It pulled up and aborted its landing just feet above the aircraft waiting on the ground.
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