Business Travel Briefing
For October 14-28, 2021
The briefing in brief: Airlines are convinced you can't wait to fly overseas again. American and JetBlue offer reciprocal elite benefits in Northeast Alliance. Amex opens a Centurion Lounge at London/Heathrow. LAX will get a ninth terminal and new concourse of gates. Century Plaza Hotel reopens as a Fairmont. LaGuardia hits the brake on its AirTrain. Philippine Airlines ends Toronto and New York flights. And more, including the daily Coronavirus update.

After more than 18 months of being largely grounded, major global carriers are absolutely convinced you can't wait to get back in the air and fly overseas again. Example one: United Airlines, which today (October 14) introduced a raft of new and newly restored international routes. It includes capital-to-capital nonstops from Washington/Dulles to Berlin, Germany, and Amman, Jordan; island nonstops from Newark to the Azores, Mallorca and Tenerife; and flights to Bergen, Norway (from Newark); Munich (from Denver); and Milan (from Chicago). Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines will revive flights to Canada for the first time in more than 20 years. Starting in December, there'll be four weekly flights from Changi Airport to Vancouver that continue to Seattle. Air France also plans to resume its Seattle flights from Paris/CDG starting in December. It will also add two weekly flights to Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, from both New York/JFK and Montreal.

The Justice Department is suing to break up the so-called Northeast Alliance, but American Airlines and JetBlue Airways are acting as if it is clear regulatory skies. The carriers announced this week new benefits for frequent flyers of both airlines. Elite flyers of both carriers now receive reciprocal priority services such as expedited check-in and boarding. Elites will also receive two free checked bags on each carrier. (Exception: AAdvantage Gold customers receive one.) Starting next month, JetBlue seats will be available for award redemption in American AAdvantage. JetBlue's new London flights won't be available and there are other quirks: JetBlue's domestic Mint cabin will be priced at AA's first class award level, but transcon Mint flights will have a surcharge above first. Coach awards on JetBlue will be priced the same as AA's coach seats.

American Express has opened its first European Centurion Lounge at London Heathrow Airport. The newly built facility is located on Level 2 of Terminal 3. The food and beverage operations are designed by Assaf Granit, the Michelin-starred chef who runs Coal Office, a celebrated Middle Eastern restaurant in London.
        Berlin/Brandenburg, the German capital's notorious, decade-delayed airport, is having its first meltdown. Things are so bad that three airlines--Lufthansa, Eurowings and British Airways--are telling travelers to drop off checked luggage a full day in advance. Recommended check-in time for flyers: four hours.
        Los Angeles would get a ninth terminal and a new concourse attached to Terminal 1 under a $6 billion expansion plan approved last week by the airport operating authority. The two additions would add more than 20 new gates to LAX before the 2028 Summer Olympics.
        Uber has officially rolled out Uber Reserve to about two dozen airports nationwide. That allows you to reserve an airport run up to 30 days before departure or arrival.

The Century Plaza hotel, the mid-century modern Los Angeles property with 400 rooms, lives again. After a five-year closure for a complete renovation and restoration, the hotel is now managed by Fairmont. In previous incarnations, the building with the iconic curved facade was branded as a Westin and a Hyatt Regency. A now-demolished tower also briefly was operated as a St. Regis Hotel.
        New York/LaGuardia has put its controversial AirTrain project on hold. The backward train, which would connect LaGuardia to Manhattan by heading away from the city to hook up with the New York subways, was a pet project of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. But Kathy Hochul, who replaced Cuomo this summer after a sexual-harassment scandal, asked the airport's operating authority to review alternative routes and options.
        Philippine Airlines, which entered bankruptcy last month, says it will drop its flights to both New York/Kennedy and Toronto/Pearson.
        The Dartmoor Line will live again in Devon, England. After a nearly 50-year closure, the rebuilt 14-mile run connects the communities of Exeter, St. Davids, Crediton and Okehampton. Service begins on November 20.

Alitalia died today (October 14) with one final flight between Rome and Sardinia. Three different corporate entities used the Alitalia name since its launch in 1947. They burned through tens of billions of Italian taxpayer subsidies and only turned an annual profit once in its history. A new Italian flag carrier called ITA will begin flying tomorrow. And to the surprise of absolutely no one, ITA today bought the Alitalia name out of bankruptcy for 90 million euros, a fraction of the original asking price. But, fear not, Italy fans. ITA promises to maintain storied financial Alitalia's legacy. In fact, ITA predicts losses of 2 million euros a day through the end of the year. A Friday, October 15 update: ITA announced today that it won't use the Alitalia name after all. The company says it bought the brand to protect its legacy, not fly with it.