2021 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.

OCTOBER 7 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Will business travel volume contract by 50% in the years ahead? Chase's new Hyatt small business credit card it isn't exactly a must-have. Capital One offers 1:1 transfers to airline partners. United Airlines delays San Francisco-Bangalore launch. Aer Lingus resumes two Dublin routes and reschedules Manchester nonstops. London airports and rail stations lose dozens of ATMs. Eurostar and Thalys of France revive merger plans.

SEPTEMBER 30 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Marriott promises to improve breakfasts at four of its chains. Why believe it? More airport lounges are opening. Airlines continue to make abrupt changes to their route maps. United and American line up new overseas partners. KLM will restore Miami and Las Vegas flights after all. The Justice Department says two scammers beat airlines for more than $500,000 in "lost" luggage compensation. And more.

SEPTEMBER 23 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Justice Department sues to break up the American-JetBlue Northeast Alliance. Unvaccinated U.S. flyers will have more hurdles to clear on their return from overseas. British Airways will resume Austin nonstops. Swiss will resume JFK-Geneva service. The TSA tells you the hours that PreCheck lines are open. United will finally launch Dulles-Lagos route. Alaska Air adds more Mexico, WestJet adds flights to U.S. West Coast. And more.

SEPTEMBER 16 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Hilton expands Honors elite status into 2023. Southwest makes a play for a bigger share of traffic in Austin. Finnair is launching nonstops to Stockholm from New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Alaska Airlines will add a new top-tier elite level next year. Bill Gates is now majority owner of Four Seasons Hotels. Are you ready for some football (on the road)? And more.

SEPTEMBER 2 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Hurricane Ida makes it a tough week to fly. Airlines continue to shuffle routes. United Airlines reduces business class seats on revived transcon routes from JFK. Alaska Airlines opens new lounge at SFO. Minute Suites will open at Detroit/Metro. Canadian airlines relaunch Europe routes. Hyatt tests an app-based fast-delivery option food, booze and essentials. And more.

AUGUST 26 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Southwest Airlines may now be the worst carrier in the nation. Zombie versions of Alitalia and South African Airlines are set to launch. MileagePlus quietly launches a miles-and-cash purchase option. Honolulu gets first new gates in nearly 30 years. Airlines continue to delay the restart of many key international routes. Upside.com, the business travel ticketing flop, goes down. And more.

AUGUST 19 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: The in-flight mask mandate is extended again and the feds are considering a vaccine mandate, too. Chase improves earnings on Sapphire cards. Hyatt buys 100 resorts in a $2.7 billion deal. Start-up Avelo Airlines tries New Haven flights. A small Mississippi airport pays $12 million for commuter service. Turkish Airlines adds DFW-Istanbul run. American Airlines delays relaunch of some London flights. And more.

AUGUST 5 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Major travel consulting firm offers dreary picture of business travel in the year ahead. Europe plans a new fee to visit. Spirit Airlines has been cancelling more than half its flights all week. Canadian border agents plan strike. Indianapolis gets three new short-haul routes. Controversial Congressman tries to carry a gun in his carry-on bag and the TSA lets him skate. And more.

JULY 29 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Delta extends elite status for another year. When will the other carriers match? American Airlines makes a down-market deal in South America. Marriott Bonvoy loses Hawaii resort. Priority Pass adds 40 lounges in China. Top-end Canadian Visa cardholders get free Plaza Premium entries. Israeli airlines fly to Morocco. Surprise! No one is paying their fines for violating the in-flight mask mandate. And more.

JULY 22 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Blame the current travel chaos on short-staffed airlines--who we've paid to keep employees on staff. Air Canada says it'll restore service to all U.S. destinations. American and JetBlue expand an already shaky Northeast Alliance. Houston/Hobby Airport sells more booze than anyplace in town. Citi ThankYou points temporarily transfer to American AAdvantage. LAX bans all single-use plastic water bottles. And more.

JULY 15 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Delta turns second-quarter profit thanks to the taxpayer bailout. Yes, the first few weeks of July have been rotten for flying. The DOT wants airlines to refund optional fees for services they don't deliver. The Supreme Court turns away a challenge to the in-flight mask mandate. New York City faces a hotel glut. Gogo is gone. And more.

JULY 8 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Hilton eliminates daily housekeeping at U.S. hotels except luxury brands. Amex hikes Platinum Card fee to $695 a year. Porter Airlines announces a September restart in Canada and the United States. London/Heathrow Terminal 3 reopens next week. United details the reopening of United Club airport lounges. Hertz exits bankruptcy--and learns nothing. And more.

JULY 1 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: The summer political torpor almost guarantees the in-flight mask mandate will survive the summer. Alaska Airlines bails on JFK-LAX, the primary transcon route. United Airlines orders 270 planes and at least one unicorn. Swissair finally adds premium economy cabin. Southwest Airlines had a weekend meltdown and no one really knows why. (Blame the unicorn.) And more.

JUNE 24 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Hilton opens two gigantic hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. La Compagnie returns to the skies and adds nonstops to Tel Aviv and Milan, too. Delta won't fly to Cape Town after all. American Express reopens a larger lounge at New York's LaGuardia Airport. The FAA levies more new fines on disruptive passengers. JetBlue abandons many routes added during the pandemic. And more.

JUNE 10 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: American Airlines schedules even more flights at Austin and creates a hub in everything but name. Hyatt loses five hotels to Sonesta--and that's a victory. Hilton is losing its iconic Singapore hotel. As leisure travel rebounds, airlines add a slew of new leisure runs. And more.

JUNE 3 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
Airlines and hotels rejigger many rules of their frequency plans. Emirates and KLM add flights to Florida. SFO adds seven new gates at Harvey Milk Terminal 1. David Neeleman's Breeze Airways has point-to-point flights, but no perks. Florida connects all its toll roads to E-Z Pass network. And more.

MAY 20 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Many major hotels have dumped their mask mandates. JetBlue will fly to two London airports starting in August. LAX and Atlanta/Hartsfield dominate the nation's 10 busiest routes. The FAA fines four disruptive passengers a total of more than $100,000. And more.

MAY 13 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Southwest adds Hawaii routes from Phoenix and Las Vegas. Delta Air Lines adds Dubrovnik flights this summer. United slowly reopening United Clubs, but the business class Polaris Lounges remain closed. Israel closes Tel Aviv to inbound flights. Three more international airlines want to fly to the United States. The Arizona Biltmore reopens. And more.

APRIL 29 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Marriott Bonvoy extends the validity dates of points and award nights. United MileagePlus offers elite flyers a three-pronged promotion. The return of an in-person CES in January points the way to a business travel revival. U.S. airlines add more nonstops to Greece as the country reopens on May 15. Plaza Premium pulls airport lounges from Priority Pass. JetBlue Airways adds two new aircraft types to the fleet. And more.

APRIL 22 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: American-JetBlue alliance yields a slew of new routes from New York and Boston. Notorious Gate 35X at Washington/National is replaced by 14-gate concourse. Airlines add routes to some places you can't fly. Capital One adds three transfer partners. Established airlines pile on Avelo Air. Taxpayers will fund a new Delta club in Atlanta. And more.

APRIL 15 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Delta kicks off first-quarter "earning" reports with another loss--but some good news. Southwest devalues Rapid Rewards with no advance notice. Marriott Bonvoy offers points for Uber rides and Uber Eats orders. American puts widebodies on all Miami routes to Los Angeles and New York/JFK. Hyatt may lose 22 hotels to Sonesta. Air Canada gets a bailout. The Hotel Pennsylvania--famous for PEnnsylvania 6-5000--may finally close. And more.

APRIL 8 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Most hotels aren't likely to restore their pre-pandemic perks. InterContinental Hotels unleashes another devaluation. Alaska Airlines moves to a two-tier system for airport lounge access. Start-up Avelo Airlines will launch later this month from a hub in Burbank. Australia and New Zealand open a travel bubble across the Tasman Sea. And more.

APRIL 1 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: March was the best month ever for travel in post-pandemic times. Delta abandons pandemic policy of blocking middle seats. American and Alaska airlines roll out reciprocal upgrades. Korean Air will kill the Asiana brand--eventually. CNN Airport Network monitors won't go to waste. And more.

MARCH 25 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Travel is mounting an impressive rebound in March. Canadian carriers resume flights to Atlantic Canada and sun destinations. Airspace Lounges are basically done at airports. Trump Hotels get tossed from a prestigious travel-agent network. Virgin Australia ends free meals and snacks in coach.

MARCH 18 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Three of Norwegian Air's key players plan a new transatlantic venture. Alaska Air dumps all its Oakland-Hawaii flights. All the airports named Orlando keep fighting it out. Little-known Sun Country Airlines goes public with a huge IPO. JetBlue adds a Hartford-Miami nonstop. The most important hotelier you didn't know has died. Amtrak restores daily service on 12 long-haul routes. Hyatt makes a play in Las Vegas.

MARCH 11 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Airlines get another $14 billion bailout, but iconic hotels are closing their doors. Air Canada introduces "status passes" that elites can gift to other flyers. American and Alaska airlines add flights in Austin. David Neeleman's Breeze Airways flies over another regulatory hurdle. Dulles rail link is delayed again. Hertz cements its reputation as the worst of the worst. And more.

MARCH 4 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Airlines are in line for another bailout--and react with awful corporate citizenship. Delta says Nashville, San Jose and Cincinnati are no longer focus cities. Omni Hotels doesn't seem to want your business anymore. United adds buses--seriously, buses--on Colorado routes. Amex juggles its card benefits. Elaine Chao's casual corruption at the DOT. And more.

FEBRUARY 25 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Masks-for-members is back at a lower cost. 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.

FEBRUARY 18 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: JetBlue and American airlines launch their code-share while JetBlue limits carry-on bags on cheapest fares. Hotel chains report dismal 2020 earnings. Las Vegas rushes to rename its airport after a different Democratic senator. United delays its Kennedy relaunch (again) and reduces the promised schedule. And more.

FEBRUARY 11 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: The pandemic skews the list of America's busiest routes. Delta devalues SkyMiles again because it can. American says it will launch Miami-Tel Aviv flights, but Air Canada's new route cuts include Toronto-Tel Aviv and a slew of major cross-border runs. Amex opens a Centurion Lounge in Denver. Delta will block middle seats until April 30. And more.

FEBRUARY 4 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Airlines threaten another round of layoffs without a third bailout. A new Marriott in Tuscany welcomes award guests. Meanwhile, Bonvoy lowers the award prices on far too few hotels. HNA, the Chinese conglomerate that ate travel, goes bust. Silver Airways adds flights from Savannah. And more.

JANUARY 28 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: With business travel at 5-10% of 2019 levels, the U.S. airlines are awash in 2020 red ink. The global hotel industry had an atrocious 2020, too. Southwest adds flights to sun destinations in March. Delta juggles its vacation destination service from New York. Qatar Airways resumes Atlanta flights. A TSA creep gets a jail term. American's Piedmont division has another meltdown in Charlotte. And more.

JANUARY 21 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: The Trump and Biden Administrations impose a thicket of new (and conflicting) rules for international travel. American will launch Tel Aviv flights on May 6. Southwest extends the validity of Companion Pass until the end of the year. Air Canada resumes Boeing 737 MAX flights on February 1. And more.

JANUARY 14 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: The CDC orders negative Coronavirus tests for all international arrivals. Marriott cuts 2021 elite-status requirements. The DOT approves an American-JetBlue alliance. United slashes long-haul Hawaii routes and delays JFK relaunch. Canada skies empty as Air Canada and WestJet drop flights. Washington and Washington-area airports lock down after Capitol Riots. And more.

JANUARY 7 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: Elaine Chao quits as the Transportation Secretary and her motive is, um, political. Sonesta suddenly grows to 1,200 hotels. Alaska Airlines adds more long-haul nonstops from Southern California. Airlines go to the dogs--and only the dogs. WestJet will resume Boeing 737 MAX flying. The humbling of the Airbus A380. And more.

JANUARY 3 BRIEFING FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The briefing in brief: 2020's travel numbers were brutally bad. Emirates becomes the first Middle East carrier with a premium economy cabin. Delta and WestJet abandon proposed alliance. A new "Velcro" hotel in San Francisco. Delta suffers another operational meltdown over Christmas. A widowed swan mourns on Germany's rails. And much more.