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(Photo: Hawaii CVB)

By Joe Brancatelli


Suddenly, Everyone Is Adding Flights to Hawaii Again:

  • Last year’s run-up in fuel costs destroyed Aloha and ATA, two carriers with heavy schedules to Hawaii. No one moved to fill the gap last year, but this year has been a different story. First it was Alaska Airlines: earlier this month it began flights from Oakland to Maui and Kona, two routes once operated by Aloha Airlines.
  • Meanwhile, American Airlines has announced that it would restore Hawaii flights from its Chicago/O’Hare hub.
  • In December, Air Canada launches flights to Honolulu from Calgary and US Airways adds a nonstop from its Charlotte hub.
  • And now Continental Airlines, which currently operates the only nonstop to Hawaii from the East Coast (from its Newark hub), is adding more West Coast flights. Beginning in March, Continental will fly from Los Angeles to Kahului, Maui, and from John Wayne/Orange County to Honolulu. It’ll also begin a second daily flight from LAX to Honolulu. All three flights will be operated with two-class Boeing 737s.
  • Speaking of Hawaii, Starwood has also converted the Princeville Resort on Kauai into the St. Regis Princeville Resort after a $100 million renovation. And Hilton will no longer manage the Kauai Beach Resort after the end of the year. The property will become an independent hotel beginning January 1.


Will Hilton Up Reward Prices in the Middle of a Lodging Recession? Hilton HHonors has unveiled a new award chart for 2010, and all we know is that the award levels have been juggled. But how many hotels will cost more points — and which, if any, will cost fewer — remains anyone’s guess. Why? Hilton has yet to release the property-by-property award prices.

Hilton now has seven categories for its hotels. Essentially, it has renamed its old “opportunity” awards as Category 1 (7,500 points) and shifted the existing 2009 categories into numbers 2 (12,500 points) to 7 (50,000 points). That means the highest price is 10,000 points above last year’s level; some other levels are 5,000 points higher than last year. Logic would dictate that the most popular hotels in the highest-demand destinations will shift into Category 7. But can Hilton risk raising award prices across the board in the midst of the most severe lodging downturn in decades? It will be interesting to watch when the hotel-by-hotel category assignments are released in the coming weeks.


On-the-Road Intelligence to Help You Travel Smarter

  • Sometimes good things do happen: The hideous Ramada Plaza hotel at New York’s Kennedy Airport is closing for good on December 1. The Ramada Plaza is not only a holdover of the days when airport lodgings were ugly, dirty and slovenly run, it is also the notorious “death hotel” where airlines directed friends, family and media in the immediate aftermath of a plane crash. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Kennedy and owns the 478-room hotel, has marked the site for redevelopment.
  • Police in Phoenix have arrested a husband and wife team and charged them with systematically stealing more than a thousand bags from baggage carousels at Sky Harbor Airport. “It’s a God awful lot of luggage, you can’t even imagine,” a police spokesman said. The couple allegedly solditems from the luggage (and the bags, too) at regular weekly yard sales.
  • A private transportation foundation says that the average subsidy per rider on Amtrak is $32. One of the few profitable parts of Amtrak is Acela, the comparatively high-speed service in the Northeast Corridor. It earns a profit of about $41 a passenger. The biggest Amtrak loser: the Sunset Limited between Los Angeles and New Orleans. It loses a startling $462 a passenger.

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Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.

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