The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
Business Travel Briefing for Jan. 25 - Feb. 8, 2018
The briefing in brief: International travel costs more--and the Trump Administration may (or may not) like it. Delta adds flights at Sea-Tac and Boston. America's lodging future will probably carry a Marriott brand name. Newark gets nonstops to Dubai and Abidjan. And more.

Our International Travel Costs More--and It May or May Not Be Planned
The dollar is tanking against key international currencies and it may (or may not) be the fault of the Trump Administration. First, the gruesome details: The euro hit $1.24 this week, its highest level in three years. It was selling at just $1.07 on Inauguration Day, 2017, a nearly 14 percent decline since President Trump has been in office. Meanwhile, the British pound is at $1.42, the highest level since it plunged on the night in 2016 when Britain voted for Brexit. The dollar is buying only about 110 yen, its worst showing in about five months. The Brazilian real is at an eight-month high against greenback and the South African rand is at a two-year high against the dollar. It would be easy to blame the Trump Administration for this plunge since Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week broke with post-war tradition and lauded a weak dollar. That naturally sent the greenback into a further tailspin. But President Trump arrived in Davos today (January 25) for the World Economic Forum and promptly contradicted his Treasury Secretary. "The dollar is going to get stronger and stronger, and ultimately I want to see a strong dollar," Trump said in a CNBC interview. So who knows what the government actually believes. Either way, the dollar is way down. A 150-pound-a-night room in London that cost $184 last January cost you $213 today. And a 25-euro bottle of wine in a Paris restaurant, which cost $26.75 last January, sets you back $31 now.

Delta Continues to Expand at Sea-Tac and Boston/Logan
Delta Air Lines' fastest capacity growth last year was focused on Seattle-Tacoma and Boston. If the early announcements this year are any indication, 2018 won't be too different. From Seattle-Tacoma, Delta is planning a 10 percent boost in primetime seats this year, including three new routes. On June 8, it will start a daily Boeing 737-800 roundtrip to Washington/Dulles. On the same day, there'll be a new daily EMB-175 route to Kansas City. On June 18, Delta will add daily Airbus A319 flights to Indianapolis. On the East Coast, Delta will launch CRJ-900 flights on June 8 between Boston and Charleston, South Carolina. There will also be additional regional jet flights on four routes from Boston: to Jacksonville, Kansas City, Nashville and Pittsburgh.
      San Antonio opened a consolidated rental car facility. The 1.8 million-square-foot operation is accessible via the sky bridge from the mezzanine level of the passenger terminals. Fourteen rental firms are housed at the facility.
      Long Beach, California, gets a nonstop route to Honolulu this spring. Beginning May 31, Hawaiian Airlines will fly daily with new Airbus A321neo aircraft.

Ready for Some More Marriott Hotels? You'd Better Be
The analysts have seen the future of American lodging--and it probably has a Marriott brand on it. According to a major lodging analysis operation, Marriott is on track to open 351 hotels in 2018--or nearly a third of all the new properties scheduled to premiere this year. Marriott also has more than a third of all the rooms in the construction pipeline and more hotels scheduled to start construction than any other lodging family. As it has been for several years, Fairfield Inn is Marriott's fastest-growing brand, followed by Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites. So far this year, for example, Fairfield Inn has opened new branches in Fairburn, Georgia; outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania; in Buda and Bay City, Texas; in Rochester, Washington; and in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Meanwhile, new Residence Inn outposts are in Burlington, Massachusetts; on Terry Avenue in downtown Seattle; in Sunny Isles, Florida; in Littleton, Colorado; in Oklahoma City; in Collegeville, Pennsylvania; and Dunwoody, Georgia.
      Hyatt has added two properties in Asia. A 461-room Grand Hyatt opened in the Taguig district of Manila and a 164-room Hyatt Centric premiered on Namiki-Dori Street in Tokyo's Ginza District.

Delta Upgrades Its Upgrades. A Little Bit. For a Few.
Delta SkyMiles, which specializes in constant devaluations, has made a small move to upgrade its upgrades for super-elite flyers. Starting this week, Diamond and Platinum Medallion Upgrades are now valid for use on tickets purchased via the pay-with-miles program and with companion certificates. Complete details are here. Separately, Delta says that members will no longer be able to earn SkyMiles for Hilton Honors stays. The last day to claim miles is March 31.
      American Express Membership Rewards is trimming its partnership with Uber. Effective February 1, Amex cards that earn points on Uber rides will accrue only point per dollar spent. At the moment, those cards earn double miles. The Amex Platinum $200 annual statement credit for Uber rides remains unchanged, however.

New at Newark: Nonstops to Dubai and Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Emirates Airline has learned even it has limits. After building its New York/Kennedy schedule to three Dubai nonstops and a fourth daily flight to its hub via Milan, Emirates will shift one flight to Newark. Beginning on June 1, Emirates adds a Newark-Dubai nonstop. (Emirates already flights a Newark-Athens-Dubai run.) The Newark nonstop will be operated with a Boeing 777-300ER configured with eight first class suites, 42 angled-flat business class seatbeds and 306 coach seats. Effective March 25, Emirates drops the third daily JFK-Dubai nonstop.
      Ethiopian Airlines is adding at Newark, too. It already flies a Newark-Lome, Togo-Addis Ababa run and now it will launch Boeing 787 flights from Newark to Abidjan, capital of the Ivory Coast. Flights will continue to Addis Ababa. The three-weekly Abidjan runs launch May 10. On that day, the five weekly Lome flights will be cut to four.
      Hainan Airlines will add a new North America route, this time from Vancouver. Beginning May 25, it'll fly twice a week to Tianjin and onward to Shenzhen.
      Norwegian is bailing on Hartford, Connecticut. Its twice-weekly flights to Edinburgh end on March 24.

Business Travel News You Need to Know
Niki, the Austrian discount carrier founded by racing legend Niki Lauda, won't be part of the IAG empire that already includes British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus. Administrators of the carrier, shut down when Air Berlin folded last year, turned down IAG's offer. Instead, the carrier will once again be taken over by Lauda. He intends to restart the airline.
      American Airlines might think its trapezoidal-shaped eagle logo is iconic. But it won't get copyright protection. The U.S. Copyright Office has again turned down American's request for legal protection.
      HNA, the huge Chinese conglomerate, is beginning to offload travel properties. First to go: NH Hotels, the Spanish chain. The Chinese firm has hired JP Morgan to sell its 29 percent stake.

This column is Copyright © 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. is Copyright © 2018 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.