In other airline, hotel and travel industry news this week…
- A survey of the 50 most popular U.S. destinations conducted by the Global Business Travel Association found Chicago to be the city charging the highest total taxes for travelers. Not to worry, New York was number two so don’t get your hopes up for an inexpensive trip to the Big Apple, but I was kind of surprised it didn’t take the top spot. The lowest tax burden can be found in Ft. Lauderdale with two more Sunshine State locations taking the next two on the list. California sees some love with five cities taking the award for lowest discriminatory travel taxes: Orange County, San Diego, San Jose, Burbank and Ontario.
- American Airlines again suspends New York JFK – Tokyo Haneda (HND) flights from September 3 this year through June 1, 2012. Delta Air Lines also suspended its service from Detroit and United Airlines balked at the government filing an argument to ensure American’s suspension would be capped to match Delta’s. United still sounds pissed to have lost out on access to the close-in Tokyo airport, but I’m sure they’d be in the same boat seeing lack of demand and seeking relief. Separately, American is also dropping San Francisco – Honolulu (you’re welcome United) and Los Angeles – San Salvador service.
- A boutique hotel near LAX airport recently completed a “refresh” and it sounds fantastic. The Custom Hotel offers a “creative, hip and playful” environment including a 12th floor relaxation room called the Stratosphere, a Transonic gaming lounge with Xbox and Wii games, the LAX Lounge inspired by VIP airport lounges and a lot more. Airport pickup is via their Mercedes Benz Sprinter luxury van complete with complimentary bottled water and hot (or cold) towel service. I’m not flying next month, so I might have to book a stay and review this chic sounding property. (Hat tip: USA Today).
- Staying on hotels for a moment, Club Carlson is offering double points on hotel stays now through September 15, 2011. Registration is required and is available at participating Radisson, Country Inn & Suites, Park Inn and Park Plaza hotels (apparently not Radisson Blu properties). I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with my 100,000 points in Club Carlson, but I’m leaning towards converting them into 18,000 American AAdvantage miles. I’d still love some additional advice on that… click here and leave a comment, please.
- Citing unprofitability, Southwest Airlines is cutting four routes from their Philadelphia offering with Jacksonville (JAX), Manchester (MHT), Pittsburgh (PIT) and Providence (PVD) being axed. Service to Boston will also be reduced from eight to five nonstops daily beginning in February. I’ve taken many a mileage run from LAX to MHT and PVD with fares being incredibly inexpensive due to Southwest’s presence in both of those cities, but I doubt these cuts will affect overall fare action.
- Qantas is also looking to make adjustments to their route network and will likely drop their daily Los Angeles – New York JFK flight. Not too long ago it was operated with a Boeing 747, but they downguaged it to an Airbus A330 and still don’t seem to be making enough money with limited through traffic from Australia. As such, alliance partner American will pick up the traffic if Qantas indeed drops the route. Further restructuring is expected in the ailing international arm of the Australian carrier with a detailed announcement schedule for August 24, 2011.
- JetBlue’s All You Can Jet (AYCJ) didn’t return this year, but the carrier is offering a BluePass out of Boston or Long Beach for those seeking unlimited travel from August 22 to November 22 this year. Not quite as nice as the AYCJ in that these passes carry greater restrictions in cities offered and limits open jaw, circle trip & multi-city abilities. Boston is the winner here with the select pass at $1,499 for service to 13 cities or the $1,999 option for the entire JetBlue offering from BOS. The Long Beach pass is $1,299 and opens travel to Las Vegas, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Portland, Seattle, Austin and Chicago.
- And finally, totally unexciting and not at all unexpected, United extended their deal with Visa, Inc. to keep their co-branded credit card deal in place and offer the Mileage Plus Visa once Continental’s OnePass program terminates December 31, 2011. United has offered a Visacard since 1987.