Business Travel Briefing
For Nov. 19 to Dec. 8, 2023
The briefing in brief: Delta alliance partners WestJet and AeroMexico add flights to Delta's hubs. Alaska Airlines moves to distance-based awards next year. United and American add flights to Tulum, the new Yucatan airport. Trump loses its Waikiki hotel. JetBlue and WestJet add seasonal flights to Edinburgh. Vietnam's Bamboo Airways drops all international flights. Southwest raises the price of in-flight booze. And much more.

In the U.S. airline industry's never-ending battle to bind its big hubs to flights operated by its international partners, Delta Air Lines can boast a raft of new connections in Canada and North America. Effective April 28, WestJet will add daily flights to Delta's Detroit/Metro hub from Vancouver, British Columbia. The next day, WestJet adds daily flights to Delta's Atlanta mega-hub from Edmonton, Alberta. South of the border, Aeromexico is upping its flights to Delta hubs by about 35%. The expansion includes 17 new routes to Atlanta, Salt Lake City, New York, Detroit and Los Angeles from both Mexico City airports, Monterrey and Guadalajara. The new Aeromexico flights, mostly on Boeing 737MAX aircraft, launch starting in January.

As predicted when Delta Air Lines last month announced service to Tulum, the Yucatan's new airport, United and American airlines would not be far behind. And just like clockwork, they've announced their flights to the soon-to-open facility. Starting March 28, American Airlines says it will launch daily service from its hubs in Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami. All three runs will operate with Boeing 737s. Three days later, United says it will add daily flights to TQO from its hubs at Newark, Chicago/O'Hare and Houston/Intercontinental. On May 23, United adds, it'll launch seasonal service from Los Angeles, too. The only thing that could scuttle all these plans? The airport isn't finished yet and there's no guarantee it'll open on time. Tulum is about 140 kilometers (87 miles) from Cancun. Stay tuned.
        Newark has moved its car-rental center. All rental firms now operate out of Levels 1 to 3 of the parking garage at Terminal A. Passengers arriving and departing from Terminal A can connect to the rental center via a pedestrian bridge. Flyers using Terminals B and C can use the airport's AirTrain.
        Phoenix/SkyHarbor has a new food mall. Located in Terminal 4, The Crystals features a Bobby's Burgers, a Chick-fil-A and three other restaurants and bars.

Former President Donald Trump has 91 felony indictments, a 26-point lead in Iowa Caucus polls--and one less property in his ever-shrinking hotel empire. Irongate, the real estate firm that owns the 38-story tower currently being marketed as the Trump International Hotel Waikiki, said this week that it would replace Trump as the property's managers. Effective in February, the 462-room hotel will be renamed Wākea Waikiki Beach and align with LXR, one of Hilton's luxury brands. (The hotel has already been rebranded on the Irongate Web site.) Despite Trump's other troubles, the move comes as a surprise since the Trump International has been Honolulu's best-rated property for more than a decade and boasts one of Waikiki's highest average daily room rates. Irongate has been mum on why it is ousting Trump, which has been bleeding management contracts for years. Hotels in Vancouver, Toronto, Panama City and New York's SoHo neighborhood have all shed the Trump brand and Trump last year sold off its money-losing Washington property. That leaves the shriveled Trump chain with just three city hotels: the original Trump in the former Gulf + Western tower in Midtown Manhattan and Trump-branded outposts in Las Vegas and Chicago. Trump's only other lodgings are tied to golf resorts in Scotland, the Doral golf and conference complex in Miami and a boutique hotel on the grounds of Trump's Virginia winery.

Scotland has been wildly underserved from North America for decades. British Airways, which may as well be called Southeast England Airlines, has never warmed up to the northern nation. And U.S. and Canadian carriers never paid much attention to Glasgow or Edinburgh, Scotland's two largest cities. But suddenly that's changing. JetBlue Airways says it will launch seasonal service to Edinburgh from its New York/Kennedy hub on May 22. Daily flights will operate until September 30 using narrowbody Airbus A321neo aircraft configured with 16 Mint business class pods and 144 coach seats. Meanwhile, WestJet is launching a seasonal route to Edinburgh. This one will operate three times weekly from Halifax beginning June 20.
        Bamboo Airways, the well-regarded Vietnamese start-up that had global aspirations, is in hot water with local tax authorities. It's impossible to know how that will work out given Vietnam's rather opaque business structure, but there is an immediate casualty: Bamboo's Boeing 787 international flights. The airline, which recently began flights to San Francisco, has dropped SFO as well as all its service to Europe, Australia and Asian destinations outside Vietnam.

Alaska Airlines, which has a cornucopia of partners in its Mileage Plan, will adopt mileage-based award charts. The price of awards, domestic and international and regardless of carrier, will now be based on distance. The changes take effect in March and complete details are here. Net effect: Some awards will cost more, others less. However, there's no guarantee seats in premium classes on the most desirable of Alaska's 24 partners will be available. So the impact of the distance-based charts is yet to be determined.
        Southwest Airlines has raised the price of buying alcohol in-flight. Wine is now $8 (up from $6) and spirits, hard seltzer and ready-to-drink cocktails cost $9, up from $7. All beer is now $7.