The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
The Business-Travel Briefing for Feb. 12-26, 2015
The briefing in brief: Southwest expands from Love Field again. Hyatt adds two Diamond Elite GoldPassport perks. Long tarmac holds have almost disappeared. American will use its first Dreamliners on DFW routes to Beijing and Buenos Aires. And more...

Southwest Expands Its Route Map From Love Field--Again
It hasn't expanded its existing fleet of aircraft, but Southwest Airlines is doing a remarkable job filling out its schedule at Dallas/Love Field, the close-in airport hamstrung for years by a bizarre federal rule and pressure from airlines based at Dallas/Fort Worth. Southwest today (February 12) announced it would add flights to eight more cities from Love. Starting April 5, there'll be daily service to Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Memphis; Milwaukee; Panama City, Florida; Portland, Oregon; Sacramento and San Jose, California, and Seattle. Three days later, it'll add a Saturday-only service to Charleston, South Carolina. Including some previously announced new routes, Southwest will operate 166 daily flights from Love to 43 cities in 24 states, most of them added since October when flight restrictions were lifted. With a deal announced two weeks ago to lease gates from United Airlines--United is dropping its Love service--Southwest will control 18 of the 20 gates at Love Field. The other two are used by Virgin America.

Hyatt Gold Passport Adds Two New Benefits for Diamond Elites
Hyatt has two new perks for Gold Passport Diamond members. Beginning March 1, Diamonds will receive two free passes to United Club lounges each year. They'll also be able to give so-called Guest of Honor treatment to anyone they give free nights using Gold Passport awards. That means award guests will receive Diamond treatment, complete with free breakfasts, club access and checkouts as late as 4 p.m. "We think taking care of the friends and families of Diamonds is as important as taking care of Diamond members," says Jeff Zidell, senior vice president of Gold Passport. Why the airport lounge passes? "It's about extending to your best customers hospitality beyond the walls of our hotels." ... Certain American Express cardholders now receive as many as ten free passes for Gogo in-flight WiFi. Surf here to see if your card qualifies and for details of the perk. ... Hilton HHonors this week unveiled some specifics of its Lifetime Diamond status. Not very impressive: a pair of headphones, a department-store gift card and a special membership card. To attain lifetime status, you'll have to be a Diamond member for at least 10 years and have at least 1,000 nights of paid stays. If you haven't already received a confirmatory E-mail, check with the Diamond desk. ... The stealth devaluation of Delta SkyMiles sucked all the oxygen out of the metaphoric room this week, but Southwest Rapid Rewards will apparently be getting one, too. Unlike Delta, however, Southwest has given members more than two months notice that something's coming on April 17.

Long Tarmac Delays Have Almost Disappeared, Says DOT
Remember all the huffing and puffing airline executives and industry apologists did when the Department of Transportation created new regulations aimed at eliminating long tarmac holds? Surprise! They were wrong. The DOT reported this week that in 2014 there were 30 domestic flights with holds longer than three hours and nine international flights with tarmac delays longer than four hours. In 2009, the last full year before the DOT rules went into effect, there were 868 domestic flights with excessive tarmac delays. ... JetBlue Airways continues to expand from Boston/Logan. Effective June 17, it'll launch seasonal flights to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Martha's Vineyard. Seasonal flights to Sacramento begin the next day. ... A 117-room Best Western has opened at El Paso airport on 6655 Gateway Boulevard West. ... The former Cambia Suites at Oklahoma City airport has reflagged as a 134-room DoubleTree by Hilton.

American Will Use Its First Dreamliners From Dallas/Fort Worth
American Airlines says it will use its first Boeing 787 Dreamliners on routes from Dallas/Fort Worth to Beijing and Buenos Aires. The Beijing service starts June 2 and the BA service starts two days later. Before the planes are deployed on those routes, however, American will fly it on the DFW-Chicago/O'Hare run for a few weeks starting on May 7. American's Dreamliners are configured with 28 business-class seats and a not-so-dreamy 9-across in coach and Main Cabin Extra. ... South African Airways says its New York/Kennedy-Johannesburg route resumes nonstop service on March 7. The Jo'burg-JFK run has been operating with a refueling stop in Dakar, Senegal. ... Cathay Pacific is eliminating the first-class cabin on some Hong Kong-Los Angeles flights. Beginning on September 1, Flights 884 and 885 will run with three-class Boeing 777-300ERs several days a week. ... The Germanwings domestic division of Lufthansa has been hit with another pilot's strike today (February 12. It won't conclude until tomorrow. Lufthansa has been squabbling with its pilots for more than a year over retirement benefits and other contract issues.

Hilton Gets the Rundown Parc 55 in San Francisco
Hilton officially sold the Waldorf Astoria in New York this week for $2 billion to Anbang, a Chinese insurance company. Hilton will continue to run the New York landmark and claims Anbang will fund a much-needed restoration. Hilton has taken some of proceeds of the sale and purchased the equally rundown Parc 55 in San Francisco. Hilton promptly slapped its flag on the 1,024-room hotel. ... Speaking of Hilton reflaggings, its DoubleTree division has slapped its name on the 321-room hotel across from the Fresno Convention Center. It most recently operated as an independent, but was also once a Radisson. DoubleTree has also hoisted its flag on the 97-room property formerly known as the Galveston Beach Hotel. ... New from InterContinental this week: Holiday Inn Express hotels in Marilia, Brazil, (102 rooms) and Pachuca, Mexico (118 rooms), as well as a 274-room InterContinental in the Old Town of Lijiang in Yunnan Province, China. ... Starwood has hoisted the Sheraton flag on a 394-room hotel in Berlin once known as the Grand Hotel Esplanade.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
The consolidation of the online travel agency business continues. Expedia announced today (February 12) that it is purchasing Orbitz for $1.3 billion. Expedia purchased Travelocity last month for $280 million. ... Heather Cho, the Korean Air executive involved in the "nut rage" case last December, has received a one-year jail sentence from a Korean Court. Cho is the daughter of the chairman of the airline and the Hanjin Group, one of Korea's largest and most influential chaebol (family conglomerates). She was vice president of in-flight services when she flew into a rage over how a flight attendant served her nuts in the first-class cabin. ... A foreign-exchange glitch on the Danish version of the United Airlines site created the sale of thousands of premium-class flights at prices as low as US$50. United says it won't honor the tickets.

This column is Copyright © 2015 by Joe Brancatelli. is Copyright © 2015 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.