The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
The Briefing for November 6 to November 20, 2014
The briefing in brief: New British nonstops that don't involve London; Amex opens a Centurion Lounge at SFO; JetBlue adds an international terminal extension at JFK; keyless hotel room entry is creeping toward virtual reality; Aer Lingus will link Dulles and Dublin; and much more.

There'll Always Be an England and Now You Can Get There
With all due respect to the primacy of the U.S.-London routes, U.S. business travelers looking to travel to other parts of Britain have had startlingly few options. Neither British carrier--British Airways or Virgin Atlantic--flies anywhere but London. And there are few transatlantic routes to secondary British cities offered by the U.S. carriers. But that is changing, albeit slowly and focused mainly on flyers at the New York hubs. Newark-hubbed United Airlines is launching a seasonal nonstop to Newcastle in northeast England. The five weekly Boeing 757 flights will run from May 23 through September 7. And American Airlines is also using 757s to launch its two new British routes: from its Kennedy hub to both Birmingham, Britain's second most populous city, and Edinburgh, capital of Scotland. The daily flights launch on May 7 and compete with United's nonstops from Newark. The new runs do come against a background of recent failures in the beyond-London market. United dropped Newark-Bristol flights in 2010 after five years. And Delta Air Lines has ping-ponged its Edinburgh flights between New York and Atlanta in an attempt to find a profitable niche. However, U.S. carriers have had some success serving Manchester, England's third-largest metropolitan area and gateway to Wales, which has no transatlantic flights.

Amex Opens a Centurion Lounge at SFO, Miami to Follow
The fourth Centurion Lounge by American Express opened today (November 6) at San Francisco. The 8,200-square-foot facility is located airside in Terminal 3, which is dominated by United Airlines. As you'd expect, the club is heavy on wine--there's a very deep list of California varietals--and the Centurion lounges have already established a reputation for lavish and creative dining. The SFO Club joins existing Centurion lounges at Las Vegas, Dallas/Fort Worth and New York/LaGuardia. American Express says the next location is Miami, due early next year. Access to the lounges (as well as the dining, drinking and WiFi) is free for Platinum and Centurion (black) cardholders. Other Amex cardholders can use the clubs for a $50 entry fee. ... JetBlue Airways has opened the first phase of an international extension to its much-admired Terminal 5 at New York/Kennedy Airport. The facility can handle 1,400 passengers an hour and it has been outfitted with 40 automated passport control kiosks and ten Global Entry kiosks. And in case you're wondering why JetBlue would need an international facility, the airline has more than three dozen daily JFK arrivals from the Caribbean or Latin America. In fact, about a third of JetBlue's total capacity is in international markets these days. That snuck up on you, I'll bet. ... Terminal 1 at Fort Lauderdale has two new food and beverage options: a Shula Burger and a Starbucks. They're the first of two dozen new dining options planned for the airport.

Aer Lingus Will Link Dublin and Dulles Next Year
On the brink of extinction in the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Aer Lingus has weathered a few more storms in the intervening years and is now growing rather dramatically. By next summer, it'll expand capacity by more than 18 percent and that includes another new gateway. Beginning on May 1, it'll launch four weekly flights between Washington/Dulles and Dublin. That'll supplement existing routes from New York/Kennedy, Boston/Logan, Chicago/O'Hare, Orlando and San Francisco. Also coming next year: a new business-class cabin, a new business-class lounge at Kennedy Airport, new pre-flight dining options for passengers departing from Kennedy and Boston and a new arrivals lounge in Dublin. ... The major hotel chains' assault on the China market continues. Starwood has opened a 349-room W Hotel in Beijing, about a half-mile from the National Arts Centre. And Hilton has opened a 112-room DoubleTree in Golmud on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai province. ... Hyatt has opened a 176-room Hyatt Place in Gurgaon, India. ... After an 18-year hiatus, American Airlines resumes nonstop flights between its Miami hub and Frankfurt. Daily service begins May 14 with Boeing 767-300 aircraft. ... Air France launches flights between Vancouver and Paris/CDG next March. Beginning March 29, there'll be at least three flights a week.

Keyless Room Access Is Creeping Toward Virtual Reality
We never got keyless room entry using credit cards, something hotel chains promised years ago, but it seems clear we will, eventually, be able to access our rooms using our smartphones. Starwood, for example, this week rolled out the technology--a blend of phone and apps--at ten hotels. The test isn't limited to the United States, either. Among the initial hotels are properties in Beijing and Hong Kong. For full details, surf here. ... New in Florida this week: a 156-room Residence Inn in Dania Beach, just off Interstate 95 three miles from Fort Lauderdale Airport, and a 97-room DoubleTree in the St. Augustine Historic District. ... New in Texas from Marriott this week: a 124-room Courtyard in the Woodlands area of Shenandoah; a 119-room Residence Inn in Tyler; a 118-room TownePlace Suites in Seguin; and a 116-room SpringHill Suites in San Antonio. That last property, on South Saint Mary's Street, was formerly a Fiesta Suites and, before that, a Four Points by Sheraton. ... Speaking of Marriott, it has also opened a 102-room Courtyard in Battle Creek, Michigan; a 118-room Residence Inn in Nashua, New Hampshire; and a 120-room TownePlace Suites in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Due to a variety of factors, the U.S. dollar is surging on world markets. It has reached a two-year high against the euro ($1.24), a seven-year high against the Japanese yen (115 to the dollar) and a record high against the Russian ruble (46.5 to the dollar). The ruble has lost 30 percent of its value this year. ... Delta Air Lines super-elite flyers take note: The airline has expended its Porsche tarmac-transfer service to three more of its hubs: Seattle, Detroit/Metro and New York/LaGuardia. ... Deutsche Bahn, the German national rail service, began melting down today (November 6) in the face of a driver's strike. Worse, the strike is due to last until the rush hour on Monday morning. It's the sixth strike of drivers against the railroad this year. ... South African Airways has joined the JetBlue TrueBlue frequent flyer progam. You can earn points on SAA flights now, but there won't be award redemption opportunities until next year, according to JetBlue president Robin Hayes.

This column is Copyright © 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. is Copyright © 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. 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.