Business Travel Briefing
For July 25 to August 9, 2019
The briefing in brief: Southwest ends its Newark Airport flights. Qantas will launch Brisbane nonstops to Chicago and San Francisco. Nebraska sues Hilton over mandatory resort fees. Air Canada resuming India flights. Amtrak plans a nonstop Acela route between New York and Washington. And more.

The traditional knock on Southwest Airlines was that it would never be able to successfully adapt its shorter-haul, lower-cost model to crowded big-city airports. You don't hear that criticism much anymore even though Southwest did contract at Atlanta/Hartsfield after the AirTran purchase, was beaten at Philadelphia by perennial loser US Airways and ignored Boston/Logan as JetBlue Airways seized control. But now there's this: Southwest said today that it will bail on Newark Airport. The airline will end all service on November 3, eliminating a schedule that once offered 20 daily flights to destinations such as St. Louis, Oakland, Orlando and Phoenix. Southwest blames the end of its eight-year Newark run on an aircraft shortage created by the continued grounding of Boeing 737 MAX, but management admits Newark flying never reached corporate financial goals. The airline says it's not abandoning the New York Metro area, however, and will continue to fly to LaGuardia and Islip, a regional Long Island airport east of Kennedy.

Oneworld Alliance partners Qantas and American Airlines received final U.S. Transportation Department approval last week for a joint venture on flights between the United States, Australia and New Zealand. And it didn't take long for Qantas to deliver on its promise to add flights as soon as the joint venture was approved. The Australian carrier this week said it would launch nonstops to Brisbane from San Francisco and Chicago/O'Hare airports. Qantas already flies to Sydney and Melbourne from San Francisco and O'Hare, of course, is an American Airlines hub. Beginning February 9, there'll be three weekly SFO flights using Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Four weekly O'Hare flights begin on April 20, also using the Dreamliner. The aircraft are configured with 42 business class seats in a 1-2-1 layout, a premium economy cabin and 168 coach seats. At 8,900 miles, the Brisbane-Chicago run will be the fourth-longest route in the world and take about 16.5 hours.
      Miami has a new VIP Lounge in Concourse E near Gate E33. It's airside on the second floor and can be accessed with Priority Pass.
      Quebec City is getting more sunbird service this winter. Air Canada is launching Saturday-only nonstops to Punta Cana and Cancun using all-coach A321 Rouge aircraft. Both routes will operate from late December to mid-April.

Are the days of hateful "resort" and "urban destination" fees coming to an end? Don't bet on it, but there's growing legal action against major chains deploying the mandatory levies. Two weeks ago, District of Columbia attorney general Karl A. Racine brought suit against Marriott, claiming the chain was "deceiving consumers about the true price of its hotel rooms." And this week Nebraska attorney general Doug Peterson filed suit against Hilton. "Hilton has misled consumers ... regarding the true cost" of guestrooms that come with the mandatory resort fee, he said. Peterson's three-pronged attack scores Hilton with hiding the actual price of rooms, failing to disclose fees and "misleading customers about what resort fees actually pay for."
      Hyatt continues to get lapped by the lodging field with hotel openings, but it has added three notable new properties in recent weeks. A 167-room Hyatt Centric debuted in The Village at San Antonio Center in Mountain View in the Silicon Valley; a 285-room ski-in/ski-out Grand Hyatt on the banks of Gore Creek in Vail; and a 363-room Hyatt Place overlooking Tokyo Bay in Chiba Prefecture, about 20 miles from Narita Airport and 35 miles from Haneda Airport.

United Airlines said last week it would resume India service in September after a combination of lousy financial results and airspace restrictions. And this week it was Air Canada outlining its plans to resume India flights. According to the carrier, Vancouver-Delhi flights return on August 1. The Toronto-Delhi route resumes October 1. Air Canada's seasonal flights between Toronto and Mumbai return as scheduled on October 27. The Delhi flights are daily. Mumbai service will be four times weekly.
      British Airways has begun loading schedules that include flights with its new business class. If aircraft deliveries and schedules hold, Newark flights get the cabin beginning January 21; Chicago starts a week later; and Boston a week after that. Seattle runs start in January, then Philadelphia in March. JFK flights will begin to see the cabin on a staggered basis beginning October 27. Don't, uh, bet the store on these dates.
      Brussels Airlines is resuming flights between Brussels and Washington/Dulles on February 20 instead of its previously announced date of March 27.

Amtrak says it plans to add a nonstop Acela weekday train between New York Pennsylvania Station and Washington Union Station. The once-daily roundtrips will be in addition to existing Acela trains that make other stops in the Northeast Corridor. The nonstop is due to launch on September 23 and make the New York-Washington run in about 2.5 hours, about 15 minutes faster than stopping trains.
      British Airways cancelled London-Cairo flights this week citing a "heightened risk of terrorism." Lufthansa also cancelled a Frankfurt-Cairo roundtrip last week. BA says its Cairo flights will resume on Saturday, July 27.
      American Express said that it spent a record $2.65 billion in the second quarter for cardholder awards. Most of that money went to Delta Air Lines for the purchase of SkyMiles, of course.