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OntheroadJoe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of, a
non-commercial Web site for business travelers.


More interesting hotels in interesting places:
Notwithstanding the softening in the market, new, renovated and
reflagged properties in the pipeline continue to open with breathtaking
speed. In Dallas, for example, the former National Bank and SPG
building has been opened as The Joule. The 129-room hotel’s
most notable feature: a rooftop, cantilevered pool that hangs over the
building. The hotel is part of the Starwood Luxury Collection. …
Speaking of Starwood, the old Sheraton Atlanta at Colony Square has
been transformed into the W Atlanta-Midtown. The property has 466 rooms and typical frivolous flourishes familiar to W guests.

In Chicago, the old City Centre hotel has been reborn as the Doubletree Chicago
after a $21 million renovation. The 500-room property’s public areas
aren’t totally done, but it’s not a total loss: There is an Einstein’s
Bagel shop at street level. … In New York, the city’s overpriced
lodging landscape gets two new competitors. An old standby across from
Lincoln Center, the Empire, has been renovated and reopened with 413 rooms. And the newly built, 24-story Holiday Inn-Manhattan
has opened in the Chelsea neighborhood. … And nearly three years after
Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the old
Gulfport Beachfront Hotel has reopened as the Courtyard by Marriott Gulfport. The property now has 148 rooms


BA finalizes schedule for its Heathrow T5 move: British Airways
is still recovering from the disastrous opening of Terminal 5 at
London/Heathrow in late March. But it passed its next test, when
flights from New York and Phoenix moved on June 5. According to a new
schedule posted by the airline on its Web site, most of the rest of its
Heathrow service will switch to T5 by the end of the year.
Washington/Dulles, Chicago/O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth and Toronto
flights, for example, move to the new facility on September 17.

Two new airport hotels of note: a 320-room Crowne Plaza has opened
at Changi Airport in Singapore. The property is connected to Terminal 3
by covered walkways. And a 168-room Holiday Inn has opened at Accra
Airport in Ghana. The 7-story property is newly built. … The Z Market
has opened at Dallas/Fort Worth near Gate 33 at Terminal B. The
operation is being touted as a combination convenience store and
upmarket deli. It sells take-out food created by Tim Love, best known
for his Fort Worth restaurants Lonesome Dove, Duce and Love Shack. … In
the midst of the cutbacks at Alaska/Horizon, there is an interesting
new route to report: a daily nonstop between Billings, Montana’s
largest city, and Helena, the state capital.


American adds a fee for almost all AAdvantage Awards:
Effective June 21, the "free" award ticket is essentially dead at American Airlines. That’s when the carrier imposes a $5 "processing"
fee for claiming an American AAdvantage award ticket online. Only
Executive Platinum members are exempt. (If you claim a ticket by phone,
the cost is $20.) The airline claims that the online fee is being
imposed to offset the cost of technology upgrades. Meanwhile, American
is also bumping up the cost of many award seats. Most increases are
modest, in the 5,000-10,000-mile range, although a few premium
international awards as up as much as 20,000 miles. The mileage changes
are effective on October 1. … Porter Airlines, which flies to the
United States from a hub at Toronto’s City Island Airport, has launched
the VIPorter frequent flyer program.


Why NyLon matters: There’s lots of fallout on the New-York London route.
All three all-business airlines on the so-called NyLon run have now
folded (Maxjet last December, Eos in April, SilverJet last week). American Airlines is dumping its New York/Kennedy-London/Stansted route and the airfares paid on the remaining service from the British (Virgin Atlantic and British Airways) and U.S. carriers (American, Delta and Continental) are dropping. Of course, if you don’t travel
between New York and London, you might wonder what all the hubbub is
about. Well, here’s what it is about: According to Britain’s civil
aviation authorities, about 1.4 million passengers flew between the
United States and the United Kingdom in March. Almost 25 percent of
them (349,000) flew between New York’s two airports (Kennedy and
Newark) and London’s three facilities (Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton).
With that amount of market concentration, it’s no wonder everyone
obsesses over NyLon.

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Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.

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