Travel Newsstand for Aug. 17-31, 2017
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Read all about it: Delta lied about its plans and prices for business class suites on its Airbus A350s. Hotels remake room service to compete with food-delivery services. Trump's Washington hotel is making money and it raises ethical eyebrows. You may not be surprised where the busiest branches of chain eateries are located. Rest-stop rhapsody. And more.
New Delta Suites Come With More: Doors, Lies and Surcharges
When Delta Air Lines announced last year that its new Airbus A350 planes would offer private suites with doors in business class, the ever-credulous New York Times couldn't help itself. It quoted Delta chief marketing officer Tim Mapes claiming suites would be a service improvement, not an excuse to raise fares. "This is a product upgrade, not a price upgrade," Mapes said.
Of course, Mapes and Delta were lying. The A350s have arrived and go into service this fall from Detroit/Metro to Tokyo and Seoul. And guess what? There'll be a price increase in the worst possible way. As Australian Business Traveller magazine first uncovered this week in a memo to travel agents, the so-called Delta One suites will cost as much as $1,000 roundtrip more than Delta's current lie-flat beds. And as the fares and schedules made their way into reservation computers, Gary Leff of the View from the Wing blog noted that the Delta price increase came in the form of a surcharge. Why a surcharge? As I've often explained, if an airline simply raises the fare, corporate discounts apply and travelers claiming a frequent flyer award would not pay. But surcharges are exempt from corporate discounts and they are passed on, along with any ticket taxes, to travelers using an award. In other words, Delta isn't just raising the price, it has maneuvered to make sure corporate and award travelers pay the maximum amount possible. A follow-up story from Leff compares fares of flights that do and don't have the suites.
Delta is scheduled to add the suites to Boeing 777s next year, but claims it hasn't yet decided on surcharges. In other words, of course it'll try to add them because Delta now lies as a matter of corporate policy.
Global Gastronomy: Classy Canadian, Busy Chains and More
The busiest Burger King restaurant in the world is at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The busiest locations of Applebee's and the Hard Rock Cafe are located at Orlando Airport. And does it shock you to know the busiest McDonald's in the world is in Munich? Well, uh, have you ever eaten German food? Meanwhile, according to a ranking of the two dozen busiest outlets of major chain stores, the Outback Steak House with the largest turnover is in Las Vegas. The busiest Domino's is just outside of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. (Have you ever eaten Marine Corps chow?) And the busiest Dunkin' Donuts is on Main Street in Weymouth, Massachusetts.
Speaking of food on the road, hoteliers are trying to reinvent room service due to a threat from on-demand food-delivery apps and dining-delivery firms. Some of the solutions? Team up with the same food firms challenging the hotels.
Meanwhile, Air Canada has compiled a list of Canada's best new restaurants. It includes a French-Japanese fusion dining room in Vancouver, a Montreal bistro that serves bison carpaccio topped with spicy nasturtium leaves and a Toronto place that evokes "a sense of Scandinavia's swinging 1970s." Who knew Scandinavia swung in the 1970s?
Starbucks, the ubiquitous coffee chain, is increasingly facing competition--from its own ubiquity. A securities analyst downgraded the company's stock last week because there's too much java in the metaphorical market cup. In California, which represents 20 percent of the chain's footprint, 75 percent of Starbucks shops have a competitive Starbucks in a one-mile radius.
Trump News Dump, Hotel Division
So how is the Trump Organization now that Donald Trump is president? Pretty good since the mere presence of Trump in the White House is proving to be a bonanza for Trump Hotels in general and the Trump Hotel in Washington in specific. Information inadvertently posted online by the government, which owns the building that houses the hotel, shows Trump made a $1.97 million profit so far this year. Not bad for a property that was supposed to lose around $2 million during the first four months of the year. How is Trump doing it? A rather dicey bit of influence, according to The Washington Post. "The hotel's managers press conservative, Republican and Christian groups to do business where they can rub shoulders with Trump's Cabinet," the story explains. Hotels magazine says Washington competitors are relatively happy the Trump is in town. Of course, it's wise to remember that Trump employs some, er, unique accounting methods in his lodging enterprises. And neither New York, home of his first property, nor Hyatt, his original partner, were particularly thrilled with the bookkeeping tricks. It's all part of Trump's checkered history in travel, something I covered in some detail.
Tight Connections ...
Timely airport spending Duty-free shopping outfits are trying all sorts of tricks and gimmicks to get travelers to shop in their free moments before or between flights.
Lost in translation? A mountain resort in a small Swiss town posted insensitive, possibly anti-Semitic signs aimed at its Orthodox Jewish guests. Your call on motives.
Sporty travel A Chicago start-up offers private jets for same-day sports jaunts. The idea? Groups of fans will rent the jets to get to and from big games.
Fancy flying A federal district court has struck down noise restrictions at East Hampton Airport, the facility nearest the swanky beach resort at the end of Long Island. Wealthy weekenders from Manhattan are cheering. Locals and more established beach homeowners are apoplectic.
Rest-stop rhapsody If you've ever traveled through Pennsylvania, you know Breezewood, the rest stop between the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Interstate 70. Someone decided not just to stop and rest, but stay a few days. What's missing in Breezewood--and every roadside rest stop in America? A Howard Johnson's. The one-time "host of the highways" is gone now, except for a last location in Lake George, New York. -- Joe Brancatelli
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