Business Travel Briefing
For Feb. 25-March 11, 2021
The briefing in brief: Masks-for-members is back at a lower cost. Major hotel chains try to juice occupancy with new promotions. United Airlines will join the Boston-London fray with slots from British Airways. Swiss International and Austrian Airlines restart some transatlantic routes. American Airlines aligns some travel rules. And more, including the daily Coronavirus update.

When mask mandates hit last spring, a Joe Sent Me member stepped up with a supply of washable, high-quality face coverings at a special price. Now that it's clear the vaccine won't obviate our need for masks--and some experts recommend double masking--he is stepping up again with a new supply of American-made face coverings. This time there are colors, masks are reversible--and the price is lower, too. Four-packs of masks are just $12 for Joe Sent Me members--and that includes all taxes and shipping. You can choose from a four pack of black masks; a dark set (navy, charcoal, white and black); or a light set (turquoise, purple, white and tan). You can examine the mask details and order from this special, members-only page here. As always, I've negotiated this special deal strictly for your benefit. I have no financial interest of any kind if you purchase masks.

Hotel chains desperately hope that the coming months signal a travel rebound. After all, endless months of 40-50% occupancy and depressed nightly rates do not a profitable business make. The solution: Slightly jacked up points promotions, some of which also speed your way to higher elite status. Here is what's on tap from the major chains. I don't think any one promo would lead you to jump ship and change loyalty, but do make sure to register to take advantage of any that may appeal.
        Best Western Rewards is actually eschewing points bonuses and going with cash incentives. You'll receive a $25 Best Western gift card for each night you stay in a U.S. or Canada hotel until May 9. You can earn $100 worth of cards valid until August 31. Register for the Rewards Rush promotion here.
        Hilton Hhonors is offering 2,000 bonus points per stay and 5,000 additional bonus points for every five nights through May 2. Register for the Points Unlimited promotion here. This is the weakest of the offers, especially considering the low value of Hhonors points.
        World of Hyatt is offering 2,000 bonus points for every two nights stayed between March 1 and June 15. Hyatt cardholders earn 500 more bonus points for every two nights. After 10 nights, you earn a free night valid for 180 days at a Category 1-4 property. Register for the Bonus Journeys promo here.
        Marriott Bonvoy is offering double points and double elite-night credit on each two-night stay through April 27. Register for the Better Two-gether promotion here.
        IHG Rewards Club is offering 2,000 bonus points for each two-night stay through March 31. The kicker? The bonus points also count toward elite status. Register for the 2K promotion here.

When things aren't rotten, Boston-London isn't a route hurting for competition. British Airways, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic are the incumbent players. American Airlines was due to join the fray last March, but delayed the route launch until this May. More to the point, however, JetBlue Airways recently unveiled the redesigned and upgraded Mint business class cabin that will premiere on the carrier's new flights to London from both Logan and New York/JFK. It took only days for United Airlines to respond with its own announcement: It'll launch Heathrow flights from Boston, too. Although it didn't pinpoint a specific start date, United promises that it'll be this year and says the route will be served with Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. United hasn't flown Boston-London since 2002, but it does fill a hole in the Star Alliance route map. Ironically, United acquired the Heathrow slots from British Airways as part of a divestiture required for regulatory approval of the expanded BA-AA-Finnair-Aer Lingus transatlantic joint venture.
        Lufthansa says its carriers will resume some key transatlantic flights in the next few months. Its Swiss International division will resume nonstops to Zurich from Miami (March 28), Boston (May 1) and Los Angeles (May 2). Meanwhile, its Austrian Airlines division will restart nonstops in May to Vienna from New York/Kennedy and Montreal.
        Emirates Airline says it will relaunch the Newark-Athens-Dubai route beginning June 1. The three-class (first, business, coach) service will operate daily using Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

American Airlines is aligning some travel policies. All premium economy fares will include two free checked bags, a small upgrade for some travelers. Long-haul international coach fares now will include one free bag, a reduction of one bag for transpacific flyers. Finally, basic economy fares will now be available on flights in the Asia-Pacific region as well as to Israel and India.
        United Airlines says it will add nonstops between John Wayne/Orange County and Honolulu on May 6. Boeing 737-700s will service the route.
        American AAdvantage miles can now be used to pay for Covid-19 tests. The at-home kits from LetsGetChecked cost 12,000 miles.