By Joe Brancatelli

· New Bag Fees and OnePass Cuts at Continental
· Say Goodbye to Even More Long-Haul Flights
· Delta Air Lines Abandons Concourse C at CVG
· The Global Route Map Continues to Change
· United Won't Cut International Meals After All
· Southwest Airlines Goes to a Cashless Cabin
· Qatar Will Fly Nonstop to Doha From Kennedy

The Cuts Keep on Coming at Continental
So you thought because the price of oil has dropped below $110 compared to its record high near $150 a few months back that the airlines would ease off on the new fees and the cutbacks. Hah! They just keep on coming. Today (September 5), in fact, Continental Airlines laid a bomb on customers. It will join the first-bag-fee brigade effective immediately for travel after October 7. The $15 fee applies to domestic coach passengers. The exceptions: elite OnePass flyers, first class and full-fare coach (Y) customers. But, wait, there's more. Even after gutting OnePass by imposing restrictions on the once-unrestricted EasyPass level, there are more cutbacks: The 500-mile minimum for flights goes on January 1 and, effective March 1, bonuses for Platinum and Silver members will be reduced. Platinum and Gold members will receive just 100 percent bonuses and silver members will receive just 25 percent bonuses. One more kick in the head: OnePass awards to Tel Aviv will cost more. Effective January 1, SaverPass awards jump by 20,000 miles for all classes and EasyPass awards will increase by 50,000 miles for BusinessFirst seats.

Time to Say Goodbye to Even More Long-Haul Flights
The so-called experts who claim that the United Airlines p.s. service has been a success ignore the obvious: The airline has never been able to extend the higher-priced, higher-frills service beyond the New York-Los Angeles-San Francisco triangle and that failure is forcing it to continue slashing bellwether transcontinental routes. Effective November 1, United will drop its Newark-Los Angeles and Philadelphia-Los Angeles nonstops. More notable cuts: Thai Airways drops the other shoe and ends its Los Angeles-Bangkok nonstops on October 26. It dropped its New York route earlier this year. In place of the LAX route, which uses the inefficient, ultra-long-haul Airbus A345, Thai is adding a Los Angeles-Osaka route using a Boeing 777-200ER. Delta Air Lines has quietly dropped its New York/Kennedy-San Jose, Costa Rica, route and Hawaiian Airlines has dumped its Maui-San Diego route. Air India is dropping its Hollywood-to-Bollywood connection by ending Los Angeles-Frankfurt flights, which continue on to Mumbai (Bombay). Austrian Airlines is eliminating its Chicago/O'Hare-Vienna flights.

C You Later: Delta Air Lines Abandons Concourse C at CVG
Delta Air Lines insists that no hubs will be closed after it gets approval to merge with Northwest Airlines. But anyone who looks at a route map and sees the Delta hubs in Cincinnati and Atlanta and the Northwest hubs in Detroit and Memphis knows better. Of course, the way Delta is cutting at Cincinnati, it might all be moot. Besides a nearly 27 percent cut in flight schedules this month at Cincinnati, Delta is abandoning the airport's Concourse C. All flights will now operate from Concourse A and B. Delta will be on the hook for the lease on all 48 gates at Concourse C until 2025--assuming there'll still be a Delta in 2025, of course. The Transportation Security Administration has opened its Self-Select lane program at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. It's the 36th airport to add the black expert, casual and family lanes this year. Frontier Airlines is switching to Terminal 6 at Los Angeles on Monday (September 8). There are now 520 USB ports and power outlets under terminal seats and tables scattered throughout Boston/Logan Airport. Atlanta flyers take note: The airport is now selling another type of personal parking license. Members who pay $405 for the Silver Reserve program get the right to park in a new members-only lot; a transponder; and 12 days worth of free parking.

The Global Route Map Continues to Change
A lot of transoceanic flights are disappearing (see above), but there are some other interesting routes popping up on the global route map. Lufthansa, for example, adds a seasonal route between Miami and Dusseldorf beginning October 26. LAN has launched five weekly flights between Santiago and Toronto. Qatar Airways is dumping its Newark-Geneva-Doha route and replacing it with a nonstop between New York/Kennedy and Doha. The switch takes effect on October 26. Speaking of route swaps, Delta Air Lines is fiddling, too. The airline will dump its Kennedy-Mumbai route on November 1 and move flights to Atlanta. The nonstop Atlanta-Mumbai route will use Boeing 777-200LRs; the westbound flight is nearly 18 hours long. And Delta will split its Atlanta-Quito-Guayaquil run. Beginning today (September 5), there will be five weekly Atlanta-Quito nonstops. Three weekly Atlanta-Guayaquil flights begin later in the year. Russia travelers take note: Finnair has launched three weekly flights from Helsinki to Yekaterinburg.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
United Airlines has climbed down from its plan to eliminate meals in coach on transatlantic flights from its Washington/Dulles hub. The other in-flight service cuts announced last month remain, however. Sun Country has added a $12 first-bag fee. GrandLuxe, the rail line that was formerly known as American Orient Express, has folded. Zoom Airlines, a discount Canadian carrier that specialized in transatlantic service, has folded. Southwest Airlines is going to a cashless cabin on Tuesday (September 9). No cash will be accepted on board.
ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.