The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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The Business Travel Briefing for June 21-31, 2018
The briefing in brief: Will JetBlue founder David Neeleman help us fly around the hubs with a new airline? The TSA tells passengers to take a powder. Delta juggles international routes, but don't ask any questions. Marriott is taking over the lodging landscape. And much more.
Will David Neeleman Help Us Fly Around the Hubs?
You know the name David Neeleman, of course. He created JetBlue Airways, Azul of Brazil and recently brought TAP Air Portugal back from the dead. Now Neeleman may return to the United States with the kind of airline that could help business travelers save time and money--if we're smart enough to break our flying patterns. According to Airline Weekly, which got a copy of Neeleman's presentation deck, his new airline will fly around the big hubs and use less crowded, more convenient secondary airports. High on the list: Providence, Rhode Island, instead of Boston/Logan; Stewart/Newburgh, about halfway between New York and the state capital of Albany; airports in California such as Orange County, Burbank, San Jose, Oakland and even McClellan-Palomar north of San Diego; and Gary, Indiana, which you can reach faster from Chicago Loop than O'Hare. Neeleman's presentation also stressed the opportunity to fly to places like Meacham Airport in Fort Worth; Burke Lakefront in Cleveland; Mesa near Phoenix; and Trenton, close to Philadelphia. Also on the map: Cities big airlines are ignoring such as Nashville; Little Rock; and Richmond, Virginia. The aircraft of choice? The Bombardier CS300, a single-aisle jet configured 2x3 with seats that are 19 inches wide. Aviation Weekly says Neeleman is targeting a 2020 launch and building a $100 million war chest. Neeleman's pitch: "Get there twice as fast for half the price." The airline's name? Moxy, according to the presentation, but that may be a placeholder. Marriott already has a hotel brand called Moxy and Neeleman didn't secure the names MoxyAirlines.com or MoxyAirways.com. Someone else grabbed those URLs on Monday (June 18) after the Aviation Weekly story broke. Stay tuned, this could be very interesting.
TSA Tells Passengers to Take a Powder
For reasons known only to the TSA, the agency now will bust our chops should our carry-on bags contain more than 350 milliliters of powders. (That's about the size of a 12-ounce can of soda.) The new "powder rule" includes anything you can think of: herbs, protein powders, spices, loose tea, ground coffee, whatever. The government claims it is on the hunt for fentanyl and pepper spray. It has not outright banned large-size containers of powders, of course. TSA says agents at security checkpoints will single you out for additional screening if you carry more than 350 milliliters in your carry-on and recommends you put larger containers in your checked bag.
Sacramento is getting a third Hawaii route. Alaska Airlines will launch three weekly Boeing 737 flights to Kona beginning on December 20. Alaska Air already flies from Sacramento to Maui and Hawaiian Airlines operates a route to Honolulu.
Rome/Fiumicino has a new club: The Casa Alitalia lounge in Terminal 3 at the E pier. It has 10,000 square feet of space and about 250 seats. Besides qualified Alitalia flyers, it is open to SkyTeam Elite Plus members or the hoi polloi who pay 35 euros for entry.
Nashville has a new place for coffee. 8th and Roast is located in Concourse C and it is an airport adaption of a popular hand-pour coffee roaster in Nashville's Melrose neighborhood.
Delta Juggles International Routes and It'll Let You Know Specifics Later
Delta Air Lines floats a fantasy that it is somehow better than other U.S. carriers and you should trust it implicitly. (Counter-argument: Delta SkyMiles, which is now a rapacious shell game.) So while it is quick to tell you it's dropping a route, its new flights are shrouded in mystery. You are just supposed to trust them. So what do we know? Delta will drop its Seattle-Hong Kong route on October 2. What don't we know? Anything at all--dates, aircraft, frequency, configuration--about Delta's two new routes: Minneapolis-Seoul and Seattle-Osaka, a run the airline dropped in 2013.
Air France has already survived 15 strike days this year, but unions have called off the next job action. It was due to begin on Saturday, June 23.
Air India, the inefficient, passenger-repugnant and money-losing flag carrier, will stay in government hands for the time being. A planned sale of the government's 76 percent stake has stalled for a good reason: No one wants to buy it.
Marriott Really Is Taking Over the Lodging Landscape
It's nearly impossible to overstate this: Marriott Hotels is growing so fast it is beginning to lap the competition. It's growing domestically and internationally, with traditional brands, with conversation brands and even with "soft" brands of independent properties. In the full-service category, you'll find a new Renaissance in Westerville, Ohio; and new Marriott hotels in Markham, Ontario, Canada; in Voronezh, Russia; and at 239 Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard in Atlanta. There are new Residence Inn hotels in Provo, Utah; Greenville, South Carolina; and Prince George, British Columbia. Delta Hotels, the Canadian hotel chain that Marriott is using to convert other hotels, has a new location in Offenbach, Germany, near the European Central Bank. The 233-room hotel formerly traded as New Century. Meanwhile, Marriott's soft-brand chains have new locations in Savannah (the 167-room Perry Lane, now in the Luxury Collection); Newport Beach, California (the 130-room Lido House, now an Autograph Collection property); and Alberta, Canada (the 247-room Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, also assigned to the Autograph Collection).
Business Travel News You Need to Know
International premium class airfares are much higher than we'd like this summer. Hotel rates seem harsher, too. But a silver lining: The U.S. dollar has been stronger than it has been. Even with a little deterioration in recent days, the euro is around $1.17, about 8 percent lower than the beginning of the year. The greenback continues to be strong against the British pound ($1.33), the Japanese yen (109), the Canadian dollar (75 U.S. cents) and most other global currencies.
KLM has a deal with unions to reduce staffing on many intercontinental flights. The result: less service, of course, and more cuts to economy class meals, most of them disguised as changes to the offerings. The new service debuts July 1 on flights to/from Houston and will be rolled out systemwide by late October.
The Federal Aviation Administration is bowing to political pressure and will reexamine its criteria for passenger evacuations. Passenger aircraft are supposed to be evacuated in 90 seconds or less to qualify for FAA certification. But recent issues--more densely packed seating and flyers grabbing their carry-on bags before leaving--is leading the FAA to reconsider its policies. The FAA standards and rules haven't been updated since 1990.
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