The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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The Business Travel Briefing for August 3-17, 2017
The briefing in brief: Nobody but Obama and Fox News likes Sheraton hotels. Southwest adds more international flights and JetBlue adds more Mint routes. United bails on nonstops to one of its "secondary" China markets. TSA makes another change to PreCheck. And more.
Nobody But President Obama and Fox News Likes Sheraton Hotels
August is where business travel news goes to die, so I'm thinking this is as newsworthy as anything else this week. Fox News and a right-wing group called Judicial Review just can't get off the Hillary Clinton E-mail story. But Fox's "revelation" today (August 3) at least confirms that absolutely no one likes Sheraton Hotels. Well, maybe no one but former President Obama. On November 14, 2011, Clinton aide Huma Abedin wondered where the then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted to stay on an upcoming trip to Asia. "Do you want to stay with [Obama]?" Abedin asked in an E-mail. "He's at the horrible Sheraton. We had previously talked about staying elsewhere. Best hotel is Peninsula." An experienced business traveler, Clinton instead stressed location, location, location. "I think it would be hard not to be in same hotel as [Obama] so try to get the best option there," she responded. In Fox's through-the-looking-glass world, however, the exchange is proof of "Clinton's penchant for luxury accommodations." Anyone want to alert Fox to the fact that Sheraton Hotels are a lot of things, but "luxury accommodations" is not one of them? (By the way, if my sleuthing is accurate, the Abedin-Clinton exchange refers to the 2011 ASEAN Summit in Bali. If so, contemporaneous reports say that Obama actually stayed at the W Bali and not a Sheraton-flagged property. Either way, he'd have earned SPG points.)
Southwest Expands Internationally, JetBlue Adds More Minty Freshness
Southwest Airlines says that it is a matter of when, not if, it would begin flying to Hawaii. But for the moment, it is expanding internationally. Now on the schedule is a flight that launches March 17 between Indianapolis and Cancun. A week earlier, Southwest will begin flying between Fort Lauderdale and Aruba. In case you didn't know, Southwest will use Boeing 737s on both routes.
JetBlue Airways continues to build out its network of long-haul domestic flights equipped with its innovative Mint business class cabin. Effective January 4, two of three daily Boston/Logan-Las Vegas flights will feature the business class. On February 15, Mint will debut on Boston-Seattle runs. A daily flight between New York/Kennedy and Seattle will get the cabin beginning on April 15. JetBlue's Airbus A321 aircraft are the only ones configured with Mint.
TSA Making Still Another Change to PreCheck Procedures
The TSA is selling its latest procedural change as an improvement, but it's hard to see where the passenger benefit is. At four airports--Austin, Washington/National, Washington/Dulles and Chicago/O'Hare--PreCheck travelers no longer have to show boarding passes at the security checkpoint. Identities will be checked via photo ID and a new credential-authentication system. PreCheck lines at other airports will get the new process in the weeks and months ahead.
North Bay in Northeastern Ontario is losing flights from Porter Airlines. The service from Toronto/City airport ends on September 11. Air Canada still flies to the airport.
Milwaukee gets a link to Delta's hub in Salt Lake City effective December 21. Delta commuter carrier SkyWest Airlines will operate one daily flight using EMB-175 aircraft.
St. George, Utah, gets its link to United Airlines back. The aforementioned SkyWest, this time flying as United Express, will begin a daily flight from Los Angeles beginning October 6. United stopped flying the route more than four years ago.
United Airlines Bails on One of Its 'Secondary' China Routes
United Airlines has made a big deal of its strategy of flying nonstop to "secondary" China markets. Not all of the routes are working out. The airline is dumping its three weekly Boeing 787 flights between its San Francisco hub and Hangzhou. The last flight will operate on October 14 from SFO and October 16 from Hangzhou. The service was launched in July, 2016.
Avianca and its TACA Airlines division will resume flights from Newark to San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. Service will operate five times weekly using Airbus A319/320 aircraft beginning November 17. TACA previously ran the route for 15 months starting in November, 2013.
Singapore Airlines passengers flying business or first class on Flight SQ32 from Singapore to San Francisco now receive a unique amenity kit. New York-based The Launderess offers a mini-bag of clothes-care products. The promotion runs through the summer.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
Oh, never mind. Qatar Airways said this week that it won't pursue its plans to buy 10 percent of American Airlines. Qatar announced its intention to buy into American in June, but immediately ran into opposition from American's management and labor unions.
Cathay Pacific is trimming capacity on its Newark-Hong Kong nonstop route. Effective October 29, the route will operate with smaller Airbus A350-900 aircraft instead of the current Boeing 777-300ERs. The new aircraft are configured with 38 business class beds, 28 premium economy chairs and 214 coach seats.
Hilton has opened its first Hilton Garden Inn in Singapore. Located in the Little India district, the hotel is a remake of the 328-room Grand Imperial Hotel.
Air Canada Flight 759 had a harrowing near-miss last month on arrival at San Francisco from Toronto/Pearson. But it's even worse than originally thought. The National Transportation Safety Board says it discovered a blind spot in SFO's air-traffic radar.
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