The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
The Business Travel Briefing for Jan. 26-Feb. 9, 2017
The briefing in brief: Eleven more carriers get PreCheck privileges. New American 737 aircraft won't have seatback monitors. Air India will fly to Washington/Dulles. JAL adds a JFK-Haneda flight. Long Beach says no to international flights. Hilton creates another hotel brand. And more.

Like It or Hate It, American Airlines Pioneers the Future of In-Flight Entertainment
It's not every day that you can see a paradigm shift a mile away. But that's the case with this week's announcement from American Airlines: Its soon-to-be-delivered fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will not have seatback monitors. American's explanation? "More than 90 percent of our passengers already bring a device or screen with them," American says. The benefit for American? No seatback monitors lower aircraft weight and that reduces fuel consumption. And, of course, nonexistent monitors never become obsolete. The benefit for passengers? They get to use their own phones, tablets and laptops to stream American's in-flight entertainment, which the airline promises will be free. The problem? American lags badly in at-seat power. Only half of its existing fleet will have at-seat power by the end of next year and only 85 percent of the fleet will have receptacles by the end of 2020. At least for now, American has pledged not to remove monitors from its existing fleet. American has 100 of the 737 MAX aircraft on order and expects its first delivery next year.

Eleven More Airlines Get PreCheck. Some of Them Even Matter.
The Transportation Security Administration said this week that 11 additional airlines can offer PreCheck privileges. Effective immediately, passengers on Avianca of Colombia, Emirates, Spirit Airlines and Virgin Atlantic will get the chance to use PreCheck for security bypass. It also means that a total of 30 airlines now offer the TSA's bypass program. One reminder: You won't get PreCheck if your Known Traveler number is not listed correctly in your profile with each carrier you use. So if you're flying any of the newly added airlines, make sure to get the number entered at the carriers' respective Web sites. More details on the new PreCheck carriers are here.

Air India Will Fly to Washington, JAL Will Add JFK-Haneda Flights
Capital-to-capital flights rarely make money, especially if a country's capital isn't also the financial center of the nation. Which is my skeptical way of telling you that Air India says it will launch flights between Washington/Dulles and Delhi. Service begins in July using Boeing 777s. Only United Airlines among U.S. carriers flies nonstop to India. Delta Air Lines recently launched a code-share with Jet Airways via Amsterdam.
      Japan Airlines is juggling its schedule between New York/Kennedy and Tokyo. JAL will drop one of its two daily flights to Narita and add a daily flight to Haneda, Tokyo's closer and more convenient airport. Boeing 777-300ERs will be used on the Haneda run, which launches April 1. Also notable: The remaining Narita flight will switch to a 777-300ER from the current Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
      Tel Aviv flyers take note. Air France is resuming nonstops between Nice and Ben Gurion airport this summer after an 18-month absence. There'll be four weekly Airbus A320 flights between July 22 and September 9.

Long Beach Says No to International Flights
Travelers hoping to avoid Los Angeles by switching to Long Beach for international flights are in for a rude awakening. After years of debate, the Long Beach City Council this week voted against building a federal inspections facility at the airport. That means no international flights, which came as a surprise to JetBlue Airways. It had just applied for rights to launch a Long Beach nonstop to Mexico City.
      Houston/Intercontinental flyers are getting a food and beverage upgrade. In Terminal D, a branch of local Mexican favorite Hugo's Cocina has opened. In Terminal C, there's now a branch of Landry's Seafood, the chain that started 70 years ago in Louisiana. Both of those outlets are operated by HMS Host. Meanwhile, United Airlines and OTG Management are overhauling dining facilities in Terminal C-South and Terminal E. Eight new restaurants, fronted by well-known Houston-area chefs, will open beginning early next month.
      London airports continue to shuffle airline locations. At Gatwick, British Airways has moved to the South Terminal. That includes BA flights to and from the United States. Meanwhile, at Heathrow, Air India has shifted into Terminal 2, the recently opened home of two dozen other Star Alliance carriers.

Just What the World Needed. Another Brand From Hilton.
Because no global chain had introduced a new hotel brand so far this year, Hilton clearly felt the need to do so. Its Tapestry Collection is another so-called soft brand of independents. This group will supposedly offer hotels that aren't quite as upmarket as Curio, Hilton's other soft brand. Hilton now has 14 brands, which isn't a lot considering the combined Marriott-Starwood has 30 brands.
      The Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles will reopen next year as a Fairmont property. The Century City icon opened 50 years ago and spent most of its life as a Westin. It switched to Hyatt in 2006 and closed last March. When it reopens, it'll have around 400 rooms and be flanked by towers configured with residential units and retail shops.
      Renaissance has opened a 155-room hotel in the Ikeja business district of Lagos, Nigeria. Another Marriott brand, Ritz Carlton, has opened a 191-room golf resort on Hainan Island off the coast of China.
      Hyatt has opened a 261-room Hyatt Regency in Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia. It's the third Hyatt property in the kingdom.

Business Travel News You Need to Know
AT&T has introduced a $10 day pass for international roaming. The program allows AT&T users to use their domestic calling and data plans in about 100 countries. Details are here.
      The Transportation Department has stopped all social media activity, which may or may not have been ordered by the Trump Administration. More details of the squabble between government bureaucracies and the new administration are here. The last DOT tweet was on January 19, the day before the inauguration.

This column is Copyright © 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. is Copyright © 2017 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.