Business Travel Briefing
For Jan. 30 - Feb. 13, 2020
The briefing in brief: Brexit arrives not with a bang, but a travel standstill. Phoenix moves four airlines into Terminal 3. United, Star Alliance elites lose lounge privileges. All Nippon Airways shifts transpacific flights. Someone thinks people want to stay at Atari-branded hotels. Visitors to Hong Kong plunged in second half of 2019. And much more.

Amid wry predictions that it'll try to return within a decade and some juvenile flag-waving taunts, the United Kingdom finally departs the European Union after 47 years on Friday (January 31). Although hardcore Leavers and Remainers are respectively thrilled and saddened, most Brits just seem exhausted as the nearly four-year process comes to an end. Well, not an end. More like what Winston Churchill in another context called the end of the beginning. From the travel perspective, however, little will change on Friday or, in fact, during 2020. Thanks to the negotiated deal between Britain and the European Union, 2020 will essentially be a standstill year. Travel between the United States and Canada and the United Kingdom also will be unchanged thanks to previously negotiated agreements between the countries. But examine that British government verbiage again. In 2021, British travelers will be forced into non-EU lines at airports, train stations and cruise ports when they enter or depart EU countries. That'll surely mean longer waits for American travelers because the non-EU lines will grow that much longer. But let's talk about that when we get closer to the 2021 "real" Brexit date. Meanwhile, if you're a passport watcher, note that the United Kingdom resumes issuing its once-iconic blue passports later this year. Like all EU nations, British passports have had burgundy covers since 1988. Ironically, the new passports won't be made in Britain. Much to the annoyance of Brexiteers, the new booklets will be manufactured in France.

Heads up if you're flying into or out of Phoenix Sky Harbor next week. United Airlines, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines and commuter carrier Boutique Air all move to Terminal 3 from Terminal 2, which will eventually be closed. Big losers: United Airlines customers who will no longer have access to a United Club. The airport and United have not yet agreed on a plan to open a lounge in Terminal 3 to replace the United Club in Terminal 2.
        Indianapolis Airport has a newly built hotel. Kinda. Sorta. A 240-room branch of Marriott's Delta Hotels has opened seven miles from the airport and eight miles from downtown. A hotel that far from a compact facility such as Indianapolis wouldn't normally qualify as an "airport hotel." But this property does offer a shuttle service to the airport, so ...
        Minneapolis/St. Paul has a swish new bar and restaurant. The Cocktail Room, located in Concourse A of Terminal 1, is a collaboration between airport-food giant HMSHost and Tattersall Distilling, a Minneapolis craft operation that makes vodka, whiskey, gin, brandy and liqueurs.

For reasons known only to a select few who seem ready to throw money out a hotel window, Atari has licensed its name to developers intending to build a chain of Atari-branded hotels. The video game firm, which has had more bankruptcies than successful games since it shot to fame in the mid-1970s with Pong, says there will be hotels in seven cities. It claims a Phoenix property will break ground in the middle of the year. Looking for a parallel? Back in 2000, McDonald's Swiss licensee opened a pair of Golden Arches hotels with a plan to create a global chain. But that never happened. No other properties were ever built and the two existing hotels were eventually converted to the Park Inn chain operated by Radisson.

Star Alliance carrier All Nippon Airways is shuffling the deck on its flights at Haneda, the airport closest to downtown Tokyo. Effective March 29, the airline's flights to six North American gateways--New York/Kennedy, Washington/Dulles, Los Angeles, Houston/Intercontinental, Vancouver and Seattle--will operate from Terminal 2. Terminal 3 will service flights from Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose and Honolulu. Just to confuse you more, Terminal 3 was known as the International Terminal until last year.
        LOT Polish has purchased Condor for 300 million euros. Condor was once the charter carrier of Lufthansa and most recently the German division of Thomas Cook, which collapsed last year. Condor operates a hub in Frankfurt and serves many U.S. cities on a mostly seasonal basis.

At the beginning of the year, United Airlines made another cut to privileges for Star Alliance Gold travelers. Effective January 1, its Star Gold customers flying in coach were barred from entry at about three dozen contract lounges at international airports. That policy violated Star Alliance policy, however. So the Star Alliance promptly reacted. It has revised its policy and now allows member airlines like United to set their own rules for lounge access. See how that all worked out?
        Global Hotel Alliance, a marketing partnership of smaller chains that sponsors the Discovery program, says it has struck a deal with a major hotel manager. Aimbridge Hospitality, which manages both independent hotels and chain-affiliated properties, will bring its independents into Discovery during the second quarter. Discovery's best-known U.S. chain is Omni Hotels, but it also includes Corinthia, Outrigger, Pan Pacific and similarly sized chains.

Delta Air Lines has been fined $50,000 by the Department of Transportation over its 2016 refusal to carry three Muslim passengers on two separates flight from Paris/CDG to the United States. The passengers in question had been cleared by local security and Delta's own internal security.
        Hong Kong visitor arrivals fell more than 14 percent in 2019 compared to 2918. The year-over-year decline is even more remarkable because visitor numbers had increased by 14 percent during the first half of 2019. Second-half numbers plummeted almost 40 percent after the start of democracy demonstrations and sporadic violence.