2020 Archive
Business Travel Briefings
Joe Brancatelli created The Tactical Traveler in 1998 for the now-defunct Biztravel.com. The column was conceived as a series of items that would make frequent business travelers more productive on the road. There was also a heaping helping of Joe's trademark cynicism about the travel industry and its practices. After the 9/11 terrorism attacks, however, Joe recreated Tactical Traveler as the news and analysis column for JoeSentMe. There's still plenty of skepticism, of course, because life on the road makes us a wary lot.

SEPTEMBER 17 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Salt Lake City opens first concourse of its new terminal. Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific are disappearing before our eyes. More U.S. airport clubs are reopening. Global Entry resumes operation. American Airlines reduces flight attendant staffing on many planes. All the President's Hotel Expenses. And much more.

SEPTEMBER 10 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Desperate for revenue, airlines add a raft of odd routes. JetBlue will fly transcon from LAX to Raleigh-Durham and Charleston and United promises new flights to Africa and India. Porter Airlines delays its restart again this time to November 12. Abandoning Coronavirus screening, the U.S. lifts rules on where international flights can land. And much more.

SEPTEMBER 3 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Airlines load up on leisure routes since business travel has all but disappeared. Hyatt adds the Hotel Hana-Maui. Southwest wins all the Long Beach slots that JetBlue has abandoned. Bankrupt Intelsat buys moribund Gogo. Eurostar launches its direct London-Amsterdam train. And much more.

AUGUST 27 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Sonesta adds more than 100 new hotels after massive InterContinental defection. Delta revives a route to Grand Cayman. Alaska Airlines will fly to Jackson Hole. ExpressJet (a commuter carrier by many other names) is going out of business. Hilton rolls out its fall promotion. And more.

AUGUST 20 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Delta will keep middle seats empty through the end of the year. U.S. and China agree to more flights. United wants you to fly to Florida even though it's the epicenter of the pandemic. Omni wants to sell five of its 60 hotels and still hasn't opened a dozen others. Emirates and Qatar Air return to Houston. Air Canada overhauls Aeroplan. And much more.

AUGUST 6 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: New York City hotels are closing in a hurry. Congress seems to want to waste even more money on airlines. Porter Airlines delays its relaunch again. American moves Shanghai flights to Seattle from Los Angeles. Amtrak now allows seat assignments on Acela business class. Hertz keeps calling the cops on its renters. And more.

JULY 30 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Homeland Security admits it lied about Global Entry and a federal judge is furious. Is it safe to fly? Two studies offer some useful data. The hotel chains are dealing with large groups of unhappy property owners. New York/LaGuardia opens new gates next week. ExpressJet folds. And more.

JULY 23 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Mask mandates extend to airports and hotel chains. Four airlines report horrific second-quarter earnings. Air Canada extends validity of miles to 18 months. American Airlines cuts many first class meals and most curbside check-in. And more.

JULY 16 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: American Airlines revives code-share and frequent flyer deal with JetBlue. Alaska Airlines adds a dozen routes at LAX, including transcon runs to Florida. Frightening numbers from the Delta second-quarter "earnings' report. El Al delays flights another month. Hawaiian Airlines slows its mainland roll again. And more.

JULY 9 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Travel's modest revival now seems in doubt. Hyatt offers up to 25 percent rebates on award redemptions. JetBlue bails on Long Beach and is moving flights to LAX. American Airlines relocates to Terminal 5 at London/Heathrow. Hong Kong's agony never ends. And more.

JULY 2 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: American and Air Canada slash dozens of routes and cities from the route map. El Al stops flying again and the future is financially ugly. Hawaiian Airlines restores domestic long-haul flights. Delta and United resume liquor service in some classes. Radisson Rewards offers big bonus for stays until December 31. And more.

JUNE 25 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Boston/Logan and Raleigh/Durham halt expansion plans. The month of May was anything but merry for hoteliers. Qantas says it won't fly internationally for another year. The Marriott Wardman Park in Washington will close. WestJet will lay off more than 3,000 employees. And more.

JUNE 18 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: JetBlue takes a run at United in Newark, including transcon premium flights. Canada mandates temperature checks for all flyers. Hotels "rebound" to 40 percent occupancy. China and the United States forge a temporary truce on flights. Amtrak slashes long-haul train runs. And more.

JUNE 11 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Making sense of flying statistics during a pandemic. Hyatt Hotels mounts an impressive promotion, BA belatedly extends elite status. The next phase of the renovated LaGuardia opens this weekend. Alaska and United will ask silly health questions before you're allowed to fly. Air Canada won't block middle seats. And more.

JUNE 4 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Southwest Airlines dusts off its post-9/11 playbook and will soon restore its full schedule. Delta Air Lines promises to block middle seats until the end of the summer. American bails on Oakland, but will reopen more airport clubs. China folds on a flight squabble after the DOT bars Chinese carriers from U.S skies. And much more.

MAY 28 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Buffalo is the canary in the hotel coal mine. Service to London is falling fast. U.S. airlines continue to prune airports from their route maps. Hertz and LATAM go into bankruptcy. The United States and China are fighting over renewed flights between the two countries. And much more.

MAY 21 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Delta will add flights to Cape Town because it's shrinking. (Yeah, it's complicated.) United chooses Clorox while other carriers block middle seats. The TSA will stop scribbling on your boarding pass. Germany will bail out Lufthansa, but get a 25 percent stake and board seats. Norwegian is saved. (We think.) Accor and Choice hotels extend elite status. And much more.

MAY 14 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Ninety-six carriers scored bailout funds from the CARES Act. Airlines decide you must wear a mask--unless you don't want to do it. Nationwide hotel occupancy "soars" to 30 percent. Delta bails on about a dozen airports, probably forever. When the going gets tough, United gets worse. And more.

MAY 7 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Frontier Airlines tried to sell social separation. Denver and LAX require masks. TSA screeners will wear them, too. Vienna Airport is selling Coronavirus tests. Marriott sells Bonvoy points to Chase and Amex. Italy, Belgium and Germany grapple with bailouts for their airlines. JetBlue Airways will drop flights to other carriers' hubs. And more.

APRIL 30 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
American Airlines said it would never lose money again, but it lost $2.2 billion in the first quarter. And United lost $1.7 billion. Southwest got a $3.3 billion bailout, but spent $639 million in the first quarter on share buybacks and dividend payments. New York airports now require tickets to enter a passenger terminal, kinda, sorta. Fewer than 400 people a day now fly to Hawaii. And more.

APRIL 23 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Before Coronavirus (BC): Hotel building reached record highs in March. After Disaster (AD): Hotel occupancy is 23.4 percent. If they finally open Berlin/Brandenburg this year and there are no flyers and no flights, did the airport really open? InterContinental extends elite status. Air Canada stops U.S. flying. United Airlines is issuing new shares hoping to raise $1 billion after blowing $10 billon in recent years on stock buybacks. And more.

APRIL 16 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: United Airlines says it will shrink to 10 percent of its former size and carry fewer passengers this May than any day last year. Southwest Airlines extends elite status and Companion Pass validity. U.S. lodging occupancy falls to 21 percent and Canada is down to 12 percent. Here's the blow-by-blow of the bailout funds each airline received--and the cities they want to drop. National Car extends Emerald Club elites. Alaska Airlines guarantees an empty middle seat. And more.

APRIL 13 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: American says it will extend AAdvantage status eventually after other airlines and hotels announce changes. Air Canada maintains the most international nonstops from North America. Hotels close as nationwide occupancy collapses into the low twenties. Airlines pout about bailout terms and drop airports, too. Delta wants credit for your empty middle seat. And more.

APRIL 2 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: To get bailout funds, airlines must fly too much on existing routes. Coronavirus strategy: Be long dollars and short miles. Who's flying where if you must travel internationally. Hyatt will extend elite benefits soon and Radisson extends 2020 status. A class-action suit against Canadian carriers that refuse to refund. And more.

MARCH 26 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Airlines get $58 billion in grants and loans, but there are strings. Canada says airlines can steal fare money from flyers. If you must fly, expect much less in-flight service and dark, empty airports. Hilton extends elite status and weekend-night awards. Surprise! Real ID gets delayed--again. And much more.

MARCH 19 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: The hotel industry is getting slammed, too. Airports are empty. Here are the day-to-day numbers. Italy nationalizes Alitalia. American and Virgin Atlantic drop key routes permanently. Customs stops processing Global Entry applications. State Department halts most passport services. And much more.

MARCH 12 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Wait! That's the best advice for travelers hoping to make changes or cancellations during the chaos. Amex opens a Centurion Lounge at LAX. Air Canada's second Signature Suite is due on Saturday in Vancouver. Notable route cancellations in a blizzard of changes. More warm-weather hotels and resorts. The U.S. dollar tanks against the euro and yen. And much more.

MARCH 5 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Airlines begin cutting service and grounding planes--and they'll expect you to pay for it. Two European hotel chains debut in New York City. Berlin sets new opening date for its "new," 10-year-old airport. Flybe folds in Europe. St. Louis gets a Priority Pass lounge. Delta adds more flights in Seattle and aims them right at American's biggest hub. And much more.

FEBRUARY 27 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: American Airlines and Qatar Airways make peace and revive a code-share deal. British courts rule against a third runway at London's Heathrow Airport. Travelers claim airlines are gaming Canada's new passenger rights regulations. North American flyers get some new connections to India. Founder of failed People Express revival is going to jail for fraud. Amtrak makes cheapest fares nonrefundable. And much more.

FEBRUARY 20 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Airlines divert grounded Asia widebodies to domestic and Europe routes. Airline food news (ugh!). Virgin Atlantic kills its free ground transfers for business class flyers. Capital One will open a branded lounge at Washington/Dulles. Regional favorite Ledo Pizza arrives at BWI. Cape Air wants to launch seaplanes between New York City and Boston. Men are dumber frequent flyers than women. (But you knew that, right?) And more.

FEBRUARY 13 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: American and Alaska airlines revive and expand their alliance and Alaska will join Oneworld. Air Italy folds. New York sues Homeland Security over the Global Entry ban. Marriott loses a Hawaii resort but gains new Florida hotels. Air Canada and Turkish Airlines adjust Vancouver routes. American Airlines says it'll start Seattle-Bangalore nonstops. Hyatt jiggers award prices of more than 200 hotels. The DOT scorches Southwest Airlines and the FAA's oversight of the carrier. And more.

FEBRUARY 6 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Marriott continues slashing the value of Bonvoy, adding more restrictions and raising many award prices. Homeland Security says New York State travelers can't apply for new or renewal Global Entry privileges. New Orleans has a common-use lounge. Frankfurt gets two new/old airport hotels. American aligns with Gol in Latin America. And much more.

JANUARY 30 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Brexit arrives not with a bang, but a travel standstill. Phoenix moves four airlines into Terminal 3. United and Star Alliance elites lose lounge privileges. All Nippon Airways shifts its 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.

JANUARY 23 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Forget the Super Bowl. Next week in Miami is about LATAM switching to Delta from American Airlines. In nearby Delray Beach, an iconic Marriott resort defects after the chain floods the area with more hotels. Cleveland loses even more United flights. JetBlue adds and subtracts. Five years late, Azul finally launches its Brazil-JFK route. Norwegian juggles bag rules and fees. And more.

JANUARY 19 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: California's flight upheavals. Chase raises Sapphire Reserve annual fee. American Airlines isn't giving up on Boston/Logan just yet. United tries a Newark-Washington "shuttle" again. A Minor battle with Marriott will change where you stay. Delta dumps fuel on schools--and teachers sue. A snowy weekend of travel. How many guns are the TSA missing at checkpoints? And much more.

JANUARY 9 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: A clutch of new airport lounges on the way in 2020. United Airlines is less sorry than ever about its sorry operations. New hotels for the snowbird set. Memphis gets a Delta flight back. Alaska Airlines continues to trim California routes. Boeing now says pilots need special training to fly the 737 MAX. And much more.