The Business Travel Briefing For June 13 to June 27, 2019
The briefing in brief: Pret A Manger is finally coming to U.S. airports. Aer Lingus adds a one-row business class for intra-Europe flights. SkyMiles and World of Hyatt find new partners. Marriott opens mid-scale hotels at two U.S. beach resorts. Qantas promises to launch nonstops to Brisbane from the United States. And more.

If ever a fast-casual food chain was designed for airport greatness, it is Pret A Manger, the British purveyor of grab-and-go sandwiches, soups, salads, yogurt-and-fruit pots and other fresh, quick-serve goodies. But Pret is also unlike most chains: It doesn't franchise and has a policy of making food on the premises throughout the day. The Gordian knot has been broken, however, and Pret has struck a deal with food-service giant HMSHost to open at American airports. The first opened at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas three weeks ago, a second is testing at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX and a third is due next month in Charlotte. "We've been talking to Pret for years," says Stephanie Havard, HMSHost executive vice president of restaurant development. "But they don't franchise and have no network for supplies here." Once the deal was cut, "it still took some time to get the logistics right," she said. And to meet Pret's demand for on-premises production of freshly made food throughout the day, Havard says HMSHost has come up with a novel approach. U.S. airport terminals will have a "main" retail shop of about 1,200-1,400-square-feet that will produce the food. That shop also will supply a pair of satellite locations of 300-400-square feet in the same terminal. Havard says the shops and satellites will have a "100 percent Pret line-up" of menu items. "You can be in and out in less than a minute if you know what you want," she promises. While Pret operates in only five American cities and is new to U.S. airports, it has company-owned outlets at airports throughout Britain and also has branches at three French airports and in Hong Kong, Dubai and Copenhagen airports.

Aer Lingus told me four years ago that it would add an intra-Europe business class and promised it would be flying by the end of 2015. So, um, best laid plans. Aer Lingus has finally unleashed the product, called Aer Space. It is small in scale--as all intra-Europe business class products are--and tiny in execution, literally just the first row of the airline's narrowbody jets. The "cabin" is the middle seat left empty with modest perks like lounge access, designated overhead space and free snacks and beverages from the airline's buy-on-board menu. It'll be available in September--hey, where have I heard that?--on routes from Dublin and Shannon to European capitals and U.K. destinations. More details are here.
      British Airways is scaling back its New York/Kennedy-London/Gatwick route. The daily flight will not run next year from mid-January to mid-February, essentially the slowest period for international demand.
      American Airlines and Qantas Airways have received tentative U.S. government approval for a joint-venture operation. If the carriers get final approval, Qantas says it'll launch nonstops to Brisbane from San Francisco and American's hub at Chicago/O'Hare.

Airlines and hotels aren't really interested in making their frequent travel plans better. But they want you to think they are offering you more. Hence these two new--and rather odd--tie-ins. Delta SkyMiles members can now earn miles when they book events with Ticketmaster. Full and rather restrictive details are here. Meanwhile, World of Hyatt now has a partnership with Lindblad Expeditions, an adventure cruise and tour operation. The details for earning and burning are here.
      American Express is cutting a benefit on its Hilton Aspire card. Effective August 1, the annual $250 Hilton resort credit will no longer be valid on Hilton advance-purchase rates. That essentially negates the value of the statement credit, of course. Because Amex and Hilton ...

American Airlines already flies between Omaha and Los Angeles. But here's something Nebraska flyers don't see very often: competition. Delta Air Lines said its Compass Airlines commuter carrier will also add an Omaha-LAX run. There'll be six weekly EMB-175 flights starting on November 10.
      San Francisco flyers take note: The domestic pick-up point for Uber, Lyft and other ride-share operations has moved to the fifth level of the domestic parking garage. The ride-shares were moved to alleviate overcrowding around SFO terminal roads, but it promptly created a bottleneck at the garage. Arriving travelers last weekend reported waits of as long as 30 minutes as Uber and Lyft drivers sat in a long line trying to get into the garage and to the fifth level.
      Boston/Logan is now, officially, a Delta Air Lines hub city. Delta says the designation is justified because Logan is a "transatlantic gateway" and because Delta has added eight routes from Beantown this year. But it doesn't change the fact that Delta remains a distant second to JetBlue Airways at New England's primary airport.

Looking for a beach getaway this summer? If your preferred beach is along the East Coast, you should know about these two new mid-level Marriott properties. A 120-room Aloft has opened in Ocean City, Maryland. It's located on the bay on the site of the former 45th Street Village. Meanwhile, a 139-room TownePlace Suites is opening this month in Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The hotel is located on South Virginia Dare Trail, also known as Highway 12.
      Hyatt has opened a 303-room Andaz Hotel in Vienna. It is located in Quartier Belvedere, a new-build district near the main train station.
      InterContinental has reopened the Hotel Dieu in Lyon, France. The 178-room property is part of the Grand Hotel Dieu complex and underwent a four-year renovation.

Air Canada is buying Air Transat, a scheduled and charter airline based at Montreal. The transaction for the 32-year-old carrier aimed at leisure flyers is valued at C$520 million.
      Air Greenland is now owned by the government of the island. The Greenland government purchased both the Denmark federal government's 25 percent stake and the 37.5 percent owned by SAS Scandinavia. SAS had been the largest stakeholder in Air Greenland since 1960.
      Thello, the international brand of Italy's FS state railroad, says it will launch high-speed trains between Milan, Turin, Lyon and Paris. The service will start next year and be 20 minutes faster than existing service. If the French government approves, FS will be the first non-French rail service to run on French high-speed tracks.