The Cost of Internet on the Road Is Coming Down: Without much fanfare, Boingo, the global network of 100,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, has slashed its monthly price by more than 50 percent. The basic domestic plan has been cut to $9.95 a month, down from $21.95. The domestic Boingo service covers hotspots operated by AT&T, T-Mobile and others inside thousands of hotels, Starbucks, McDonalds and bookstores nationwide. Boingo's move comes as residential-oriented broadband firms have begun bundling remote Wi-Fi access with their own monthly fees. Cablevision, for example, offers its users in the New York metropolitan area some Wi-Fi access on the road. Verizon, which sells DSL and fiber-optic Internet to residential customers, is readying an announcement that would give them some free Wi-Fi hotspot access, too. And T-Mobile has joined other big cellphone companies in selling 3G modem sticks that allow laptops to surf the Internet using mobile-phone networks.
Airlines Are Launching Niche Flights to Select Airports: Major carriers are furiously slashing service — last fall's 10 percent cuts have been matched by more deletions during the first quarter of this year — but they are also launching flights in select markets.
- United Airlines, for example, is adding two routes from Pittsburgh. Airbus A319 flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles begin on September 2.
- Delta Air Lines is adding three daily flights between Northwest's Memphis hub and Dallas/Love Field on July 6. The flights will be operated with 50-seat regional jets.
- Alaska Airlines is beefing up in Hawaii. Effective November 9, it will add flights between Oakland and Maui. The next day it adds service between Oakland and Kona on the Big Island. Alaska is also moving up the launch of its previously announced Portland, Oregon-Maui flights by a month to July 2. It will also add new destinations from its Seattle hub. On September 23, it'll begin flights to Houston/Intercontinental; a month later, it'll add Seattle-Atlanta service.
MILES & POINTS
Omni Upgrades Select Guest Program With New Elite Levels: The Omni Hotels Select Guest frequent stay plan already suffers because of the chain's small footprint of just 43 properties. It didn't help that the program wasn't competitive in benefits, either. But Omni has fixed that, adding two elite levels with new perks. Basic Select Guest members now receive free Wi-Fi, morning beverages and evening bottled water delivered to their room and free pressing of two items. Members at the Platinum Level (it requires six nights or three stays a year) also receive late check-out until 3 p.m., space-available room upgrades and a snack delivered at turndown. Members at the Black Level (20 nights or 11 stays) receive late check-out until 5 p.m., room upgrades confirmed 24 hours in advance, unlimited free pressing services and an alcoholic beverage at turndown. Omni will continue with its super-simple earnings program: Stay 10 paid nights and receive a free night.
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Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of JoeSentMe.com, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.