The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
Business Travel Briefing for November 17-30, 2017
The briefing in brief: Emirates thinks we're very, very stupid. Sea-Tac gets two more nonstop routes. Hyatt opens an Andaz in Singapore and Marriott opens two Moxy hotels in Japan. AAdvantage continues to lose partners. Chicago and Boston get more international flights. And more.

Emirates Airline Thinks We're Very, Very Stupid
When Emirates Airline rolled out the new first class suites for its Boeing 777-300 aircraft on Sunday (November 12), president Tim Clark claimed demand for the top-of-the-heap cabin was strong. He even insisted Emirates wasn't suffering the slump in first class that other airlines were experiencing. But the facts seem to suggest Clark thinks we're stupid. Despite the flashy rollout on Sunday, Emirates is slashing first class capacity severely. On the -300 class Boeing 777s that Emirates is remaking, the new first class will have just six seats instead of the current eight. And although it didn't publicize it, Emirates is eliminating first class cabins on its Boeing 777-200LR aircraft. Meanwhile, Emirates would also prefer you not notice that the business class on its Boeing 777s will retain the insanely outdated 2-3-2 layout for at least three more years. Other top-class carriers eliminated middle seats in business class at least a decade ago, yet Emirates thinks you're dumb enough not to realize the state of some of its business classes.

Seattle Gets Two More Routes: Dublin and Pittsburgh
The high-tech community in and around Seattle-Tacoma is laden with high-yield, high-value flyers. Which explains why Delta Air Lines invaded Alaska Airlines' hub and both prospered. And explains why Sea-Tac continues to get more new nonstops than other major U.S. airports. This week, for example, Alaska Airlines said it would launch nonstops to Pittsburgh. Daily service launches on September 6 with Boeing 737s. Meanwhile, Aer Lingus today (November 17) announced that it will add its third West Coast nonstop from its Dublin hub by launching Seattle service. The four weekly flights begin May 18 using Airbus A330s configured with at least 23 business class seats.
      Priority Pass continues to pick up additional airport clubs and expand its in-airport dining perk. New lounges include the Plaza Premium Lounge in Toronto near U.S. departures in Terminal 3; two clubs in Mexico (Monterrey and Puebla); and the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Terminal 2 at Los Angeles International. (But beware: Priority Pass access to the LAX lounge is limited to the hours of 5 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) And cardholders now receive a $28 credit at the Kentucky Ale Taproom in Lexington, Kentucky.
      Pret A Manger, the British prepared-food chain, will be coming to airports and railroad stations thanks to a deal with Autogrill, the huge global food-service company. The first two Prets open next year in Copenhagen, but they will also be coming to U.S. airports.

Asia Travelers Take Note: New and Rebranded Hotels of Note
Hyatt has opened its first Andaz in Southeast Asia. The 342-room property in Singapore is located at 5 Fraser Street. And Marriott opened two Moxy hotels in Japan. The 205-room Tokyo branch is near Kotobashi Park in the Kinshicho district. The 155-room Osaka Moxy is near Honmachi station. Meanwhile, Marriott's Le Meridien brand has taken over the 336-room former Ritz-Carlton in the Gangnam district of Seoul.
      Hilton continues to expand its limited-service footprint around the country. An 87-room Home2 Suites opened in Lake Charles, Louisiana. A 114-room Homewood Suites opened in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. And the dual-branded Hilton Garden Inn and Home2 Suites has opened at 7200 S. Price Road in Tempe, Arizona.
      Marriott has opened two Four Points hotels in Africa. A 172-room branch opened in the main complex of Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and a 106-room property opened in Arusha, Tanzania. The latter is a rebranding and remake of the Arusha Hotel, first opened in 1894.

American AAdvantage Loses Another International Partner
American AAdvantage flyers are already due to lose substantial benefits as the year ends thanks to the end of American's deal with Jet Airways and the gutting of the Alaska Airlines partnership. Now comes even more bad news: The frequent flyer deal with Gulf Airlines, the carrier based in Bahrain, ends on April 30. That isn't a big loss in itself, but it does further cripple AAdvantage members' ability to book awards in the Middle East, the Near East and Africa.
      World of Hyatt members take note: The 126-room beachfront Park Hyatt St. Kitts is open. It's a Category 7 (30,000 points per night) redemption.
      ThankYou, the points program of Citicard, is adding another partner. ThankYou points now transfer to LifeMiles, the frequent flyer program of Star Alliance carrier Avianca.
      Ultimate Rewards, Chase Bank's program, has added two new transfer partners, Aer Lingus and Iberia. Both carriers use Avios points as their currency.
      KrisFlyer, the frequent flyer program of Singapore Airlines, is raising prices effective December 7. It is also adding a $25 telephone fee for booking any award that is available for ticketing online. Complete information is here.

More International Flights for Chicago and Boston
The airport authorities at Boston/Logan have made a concerted attempt to attract more international airlines in recent years and their efforts continue to pay dividends. The latest new route: a nonstop to Sao Paulo from LATAM. The three weekly flights from the Oneworld Alliance member launch July 1 using Boeing 767s to Guarulhos International. Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines says that it is headed to Chicago/O'Hare. The Star Alliance carrier says it will begin nonstop flights to its hub in Addis Ababa in June. The airline hasn't released any other details.
      American Airlines says it will launch seasonal flights between its Dallas/Fort Worth hub and Reykjavik. Flights will operate between June 7 and October 27 with Boeing 757s. The service seems aimed at foiling two low-fare airlines that recently announced plans to fly between DFW and Iceland.
      Alitalia is resuming two routes to Africa, which will mean more connections via Rome for U.S. travelers. There will be four weekly flights to Johannesburg beginning April 8 and four to Nairobi beginning March 28. Perpetually stressed Alitalia hasn't flown either route in at least 15 years.

Business Travel News You Need to Know
Alaska Airlines is the latest carrier to bail on flights to Cuba. Alaska Air flights to Havana from Los Angeles end on January 27, a little more than a year after the route launched. Chances of a recovery are bleak now that the Trump Administration has made it harder for U.S. travelers to visit Cuba.
      Air Canada is bailing on two routes to the Caribbean. It has cancelled flights to San Juan and St. Maarten this winter, but says it will resume flights in 2019. Both Puerto Rico and St. Maarten are struggling to recover from the effect of this year's devastating hurricanes.

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.