The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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The Business Travel Briefing for August 2-16, 2018
The briefing in brief: Everyone wants to save the TSA at small airports. Why? Delta upgrades Raleigh-Durham to "focus city" status. United will fly from Dulles to Tel Aviv. Where are hotel developers building? Texas and New York. Hyatt aligns with Small Luxury Hotels. And more.
The TSA Has an Idea and the Crowd Goes Wild. But Not in the Good Way.
Most travelers hate the TSA. It has a 95 percent failure rate. It continually flouts and ignores laws. Screeners wear phony badges to bamboozle you into thinking the TSA is a law-enforcement agency. And TSA officials promulgate rules that aren't even rules. So why the outrage when CNN revealed this week that the TSA was considering eliminating screening at more than 150 smaller airports? The proposal, the result of internal spitballing, has virtually no chance of moving past the idea stage. After all, when did a government bureaucracy voluntarily give up power? Besides, it would cause total chaos at the nation's space-constrained larger airports, which would be required to separate the unscreened transfer passengers from flyers who have already passed through the security checkpoints. But here's the bottom line: The most effective security measure imposed after 9/11 was the hardening of the cockpit and its doors. Too much of what the TSA does is just security kabuki. We should be thinking about practical, cost-effective alternatives to the existing order, not squealing like stuck pigs when a new idea is proposed.
Delta Upgrades Raleigh/Durham to 'Focus City' Status
The airline industry generally categorizes destinations as either "hubs" or "spokes," but lately they've invented the "focus city" sobriquet to cover places where they operate a large number of nonstops for so-called O&D traffic. (Those are flyers who aren't connecting passengers in a city.) Delta is about to name Austin a focus city, but it has already applied the moniker to Raleigh-Durham. According to Delta, it has grown to 27 destinations from RDU, up from 11 in 2010. It has more than doubled the number of seats it flies there during the same period. Delta says its next new route from RDU will be Chicago/O'Hare. There'll be three weekly flights beginning in April, the first time Delta has flown RDU-ORD since 1978.
Miami is a huge American Airlines hub, of course, but American apparently can't sustain service to United's hub at Washington/Dulles. It drops the route on December 19. Not coincidentally, United says it'll launch some seasonal flights between the two airports beginning December 19. Flights will operate through March 30.
United Will Launch Nonstops Between Washington and Tel Aviv
United Airlines is launching another nonstop to Tel Aviv, this time from its Washington/Dulles hub. The three weekly flights begin May 22 using Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. United already operates Tel Aviv nonstops from its Newark and San Francisco hubs
KLM is returning to Boston after a 25-year hiatus. The Dutch carrier will fly three weekly nonstops to Amsterdam beginning March 31. Service will increase to four weekly flights beginning July 1. Airbus A330-300s will service the route.
Austrian Airlines is busting its Miami-Vienna route to seasonal service. Flights will be suspended between October 28 and March 30. Austrian launched Miami service in 2015.
Where the Hotels Never Stop Building
The fastest-growing hotel markets in the nation? New York, Dallas, Nashville, Houston and Los Angeles. According to the consulting firm Lodging Econometrics, New York City has 169 projects in the pipeline and nearly 30,000 rooms under construction. Dallas and Houston together have more than 300 properties in the works representing about 35,000 rooms. Texas is the star of this week's new openings, too. Another Hampton Inn opened in Plano. A Tru by Hilton opened in a converted 1930s office building in San Antonio. Hilton also added another Embassy Suites in San Antonio, this one at 5615 Landmark Parkway. Hilton also injected its Canopy brand into Dallas with an outpost in the Uptown District.
Hilton has taken over those three hotels in Dubai's Al Habtoor City that until recently were aligned with Starwood. The former Westin in now a Hilton and the former W was renamed V and aligned with Hilton's Curio Collection. The former St. Regis becomes an LXR Collection, a name Hilton is resurrecting to give the hotel a brand affiliation. Ironically, Hilton had been in the running to operate the three hotels before the properties opened in 2016 with Starwood brands.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
As I warned last week, the bid Hyatt said it would make for NH Hotels of Spain never materialized. But this week it announced a marketing alliance with Small Luxury Hotels (SLH), a reservation service for about 500 boutique properties around the world. Hyatt says World of Hyatt members will be able to earn and burn at SLH properties by the end of the year. This sounds great, but the devil will be in the details. It's already dramatically cheaper--sometimes by a factor of two or three--to book SLH properties directly than via SLH.com. One shudders at what Hyatt may charge. Awards for SLH properties aren't likely to be cheap, either. Stay tuned.
Priority Pass continues to add restaurants to its perks. Cardholders now can claim $28 food and beverage credits at The Fan Zone at Indianapolis Airport. (It's at the end of Concourse B near Gate B17.) The same applies at RJ Rockers Flight Room at Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Aeromexico Flight 2431 crashed on takeoff Tuesday (July 31) in a hailstorm. Miraculously none of the passengers or crew on the EMB-190 were killed. There were about two dozen injuries, however. Both black boxes have been retrieved. The flight was traveling from Durango to Mexico City. Before flying for Aeromexico's commuter division, the aircraft was operated by Republic Airlines, the U.S. regional carrier.
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