The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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The Business Travel Briefing for January 17-31, 2019
The briefing in brief: JetBlue dominates Boston/Logan despite Delta's new flights. ReallyStup: Marriott renames its loyalty program Bonvoy. Air Italy adds Milan nonstops from Chicago and Toronto. Airport clubs are hot global commodities. California Pacific is grounded. And more.
JetBlue Still Rules the Roost in Boston, But Delta Keeps Trying
Delta Air Lines is pouring flights into Boston/Logan, one of the nation's fastest-growing airports. In fact, last month it announced a spate of new domestic and international routes. It also plans to take over almost all 21 gates at Terminal A. But a decade after our last look at Boston's competitive situation, Delta has fallen further behind JetBlue Airways, the market leader. According to U.S. government statistics, JetBlue controls more than 31 percent of the Logan market, up from about 17 percent in 2009. Delta remains mired at around 13 percent. (The big loser at Logan? American Airlines. It and US Air controlled around 30 percent of Boston's capacity in 2009. It's down to 20 percent now.) Will any of Delta's new flights change the competitive balance? Probably not but more choice is always better. Delta will launch routes to Newark, Cleveland and Washington/National. Cleveland begins April 1 while Newark and Washington launch on September 9. (United, which has been flying between Boston and its former hub in Cleveland, is responding by running away. It ends its Cleveland run on March 30.) Meanwhile, Delta's international partners have already announced new flights to Amsterdam (KLM, starting March 31) and Seoul (Korean Air, launching April 12). Delta will add seasonal flights to Edinburgh and Lisbon on May 23. Delta and friends aren't the only airlines expanding international runs at Logan, however. Norwegian is adding two Europe routes. Flights to Rome begin March 31 and service to Madrid launches May 2.
Marriott Rewards Is Becoming Marriott Bonvoy, a ReallyStup Name
Marriott announced this week that Marriott Rewards will become Marriott Bonvoy starting next month. The ReallyStup name is apparently a meaningless mash-up of "bon voyage" and will be the umbrella replacement for Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and Ritz-Carlton Rewards. Marriott also announced the rebranding of two elite tiers. Titanium Elite replaces Platinum Premier Elite (75 nights) and Ambassador Elite is the new name for customers who register 100 nights and $20,000 in spend each year. Separately, Marriott said the new Tier 8 (with award prices as high as 100,000 points per night) becomes effective with the start of the new membership year on March 1. Marriott released a ReallyStup video to promote the Bonvoy launch.
World of Hyatt is realigning its elite benefits. Not improving them, just moving them around. At 20 nights or 35,000 points, for example, you receive two Club Lounge awards. There are additional benefits for each additional 10 nights. At 60 nights or 100,000 points, you reach Globalist level and receive more benefits for each additional 10 nights. Complete details are here.
Delta Air Lines has backed off its changes for lifetime members of Sky Clubs. They can continue to enter the club so long as they have a same-day ticket on any airline. That is a restoration of conditions that existed when travelers purchased Lifetime Membership.
More All-Suite Hotels for Europe Have Arrived
All-suite and extended-stay hotels are a standard in U.S. markets but they have been slow to spread to Europe, where open land is scarce and hotel developers have been reluctant to build larger-scale properties. Marriott Residence Inn and the Hyatt House chains have made inroads, however, and now InterContinental's Staybridge Suites has crossed the pond. A Staybridge branch opened last month across from the Dutch Parliament in The Hague, capital of the Netherlands. And this week a 145-room Staybridge opened on the Bath Road at the edge of London's Heathrow Airport. The Heathrow branch is the first component of a dual-branded property; a traditional Holiday Inn will open later in the year.
Hyatt has opened a Hyatt Regency in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The 188-room hotel is located on Meskel Square in the heart of the city's commercial district.
Hilton has opened a dual-brand operation in downtown Ottawa. The complex at 361 Queen Street offers 175 rooms in a Hilton Garden Inn and 171 rooms as part of a Homewood Suites.
Air Italy Adds Nonstops to Toronto and Chicago, Demagoguery Ensues
Alitalia is a dead airline flying, propped up by Italian bureaucrats too frightened to let the carrier fail. But that hasn't stopped some other parties from seizing opportunity in Italy, the third-largest economy in the Eurozone. Qatar Airways late in 2017 purchased 49 percent of Meridiana and rebranded it Air Italy. It also refocused the airline on Milan, the heart of Italy's manufacturing, finance and fashion industries. Using refurbished Qatar A330s, Air Italy launched flights last year from Milan/Malpensa to New York/Kennedy and Miami. Flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco launch in April. Just before Christmas, Air Italy also announced new nonstops to Toronto and Chicago. Both runs, operating three or four times a week, launch in May. That naturally raised the corporate ire of U.S. airlines, claiming that Qatar Airways is using Air Italy as a back door to add "fifth freedom flights." Of course, not only are fifth-freedom routes specifically allowed by open skies treaties, most of Air Italy's new runs to Milan aren't being served by U.S. carriers. So, as usual, ignore the political baloney and fly the routes and airlines that work for you.
Delta Air Lines says it will begin flights between its Minneapolis hub and Mexico City. Flights launch in June using Airbus A319s configured with 12 first class, 18 Comfort+ and 102 coach seats.
Airport Lounges Are Hot Commodities Around the Globe
The popularity of airport lounges is a recognition that we have way too much "dwell time" and need somewhere comfortable and productive to wait out the inevitable delays and the got-to-the-airport-way-too-early-because-of-unreliable-security extra time. So look at these new clubs as useful arrows in our airport quivers:
Los Angeles is the newest venue for a United Polaris Lounge. The 12,000-square-foot facility straddles the rotunda in Terminal 7 above Gates 73 to 75A. The 140-seat facility is open to United business class passengers.
Mumbai now has an American Express Lounge in Terminal 2 on Level 3. It is the second Amex lounge in India. An Amex club opened in Terminal 3 of Delhi Airport.
St John's, Newfoundland, has a new Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. It is located airside between Gates 10 and 12A.
Frankfurt has another Lufthansa-aligned club. The Panorama Lounge is open weekdays only from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is located opposite Gate A26 in the Terminal 1A Schengen departure area.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
Louisville travelers take note: Airport authorities have voted to rename the facility after Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer and global celebrity. The three-letter code remains SDF but the new name is Louisville Muhammad Ali International.
The IRS standard mileage rate for 2019 has been set at 58 cents, up 3.5 cents from 2018. Complete details are here.
Delta Air Lines elite travelers take note: Automatic upgrades to Comfort+ will be suspended on seven international routes. Delta is switching aircraft on the runs--Atlanta to Tokyo/Narita and Paris; Minneapolis to Tokyo/Haneda, Paris and Seoul; and Los Angeles to Paris and Sydney--so eligible travelers will have to manually upgrade based on normal upgrade windows. The disruption is due to start in March.
California Pacific, which began flying in September after a decade of delays, is essentially grounded. The airline, based at Carlsbad's McClelland airport near San Diego, says it has run out of pilots. It does have one remaining route, a commuter run from Denver to Pierre and Watertown, South Dakota.
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