Monday, September 27, 2010

Southwest Airlines will acquire AirTran in a sequel to Airline Merger Mania

The airline industry is becoming smaller and smaller by forming bigger airlines. Even the low cost rivals are merging now. How will it affect us, the punters that they stuff into the seats that are becoming smaller and smaller?
Well, obviously less choice for us means higher ticket prices. They rationalize less capacity as creating a less fragmented service. I’ve never had trouble sending myself and my bags around the world despite the fragmented service,

BUT WHAT intrigues ME IS THAT I am curious to know if they will keep the business class seats on AirTran? SouthWest is obtaining international markets like Cancun and they are happy that they will now have access to Hartsfield Atlanta, (ATL) Airport. Will moving into bigger airports mean more service for LUV?

Now that antitrust concerns have been overcome, and the merger between United and Continental, can go ahead, I may start to fly Southwest from Houston, because the new Mega airline based in Chicago, will only look after the Platinum and higher frequent flyers.
Gary Kelly, CEO Southwest said that it will give them a “Competitive advantage and instant growth”. From my perspective, I would rather see airlines grow due to passenger satisfaction, but that’s just me….
Airlines are obtaining growth through mergers and acquisitions rather than organic growth. SW has bought companies and integrated them well before. This will be made easy because both carriers fly similar 737 aircraft.
I’m going to take advantage of Southwest's double mileage offer on Denver flights and I survived a flight to Chicago Midway airport last week. I don’t enjoy having to stand between the poles to board, like kids lined up at school, and I miss the chance of being upgraded to first class. Never the less, Southwest remains a Texas airline, as Continental moves to Chicago. I was able to fly to Chicago for less than $200 round trip, whereas Continental charge 4x that price. The result of large carriers and their policies growing is that low cost carriers are thriving.
This expands Luv's presence in key markets, like New York LaGuardia, Boston Logan, and Baltimore/Washington, as well as enables them to serve Washington D.C. via Ronald Reagan National Airport. Also, it presents the opportunity to provide access to key international leisure markets in the Caribbean and Mexico,
When the deal closes, Southwest will integrate AirTran into the Southwest Airlines brand and will combine the carriers' frequent flyer programs
Continental will have to lease gates at Newark to Southwest, so things are looking up for Southwest. With an entry to Newark, and if you look at the 2 route maps, you will notice that the only state that SWA does not have a presence at, is Georgia. Now they will have gates at the world’s busiest airport William B. Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, GA (ATL) and (KCLT) Airport at Charlotte.
There is not too much overlapping of routes, so it will work out well. There is some overlap in Baltimore and in some cities in Florida, but the ATL acquisition is worth this small inconvenience.
The only cloud in the story is their dark past of the 1996 ValuJet crash that prompted FAA shakeup, when the DC9 Flight 592 crashed in Florida and forced ValuJet it to merge with AirTran Airways

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ritz-Carlton Hotels are launching a Loyalty Program in rank with Marriott Rewards

Finally, they will be in line with the other benefits expected at Marriott brands and I won't have to remember that they are the exception.
When I stayed at The Ritz-Carlton Dallas, I booked an Advance Purchase rate, on the spur of the moment. If I had thought about it I would have remembered that the Ritz do not give Marriott points like all the other brands. I seldom prepay for rooms because non-refundable bookings always turn out to be a problem. Changes are part of any road warrior’s lot in life and Marriott brands are usually the best hotels to book a room with a 6 p.m. hold. This is the reason that I go to Marriott first to make a reservation, the moment that I suspect I will be travelling. I love ♥ Marriott because I can rely on them before I commit to buying an air ticket. They get a lot more business due to this phenomenon. I have never actually taken one look at a room and decided that it was way over priced, but I would like to feel that I have that option to leave the hotel if it is really a rip-off. I did not feel that the Ritz Carlton Dallas was value for money. It's a new, comfortable hotel but not particularly luxurious, and I was not a happy camper, paying $300 for a small room. The Spa is nice and it must be wonderful to own a condo in the high-rise hotel. The focus of the Ritz Dallas is residential, so the hotel part is small and they don’t offer any benefits for elite M R members. We don’t get upgrades or access to the Ritz-Carlton Club Level or Club Lounge on the 7th floor, but it is not always open anyway. It’s open some weekends if the hotel is at full occupancy, but if they have a conference, they usually upgrade conference organizers and not M R elites. Whether this will change when they conform to the other brands in the MR portfolio, is still to be seen …? The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas is located in the chic, enclave of Up-down-town Dallas on the Trolley Line, near the spacious, Rosewood Crescent Hotel and many other luxury choices like the W Hotel Victory and the The Joule SPG hotel. (see my previous post on the W)
There are fewer than a hundred Ritz-Carlton hotel and resort locations worldwide, including 8 in Europe. The Ritz- Piccadilly, London is my favorite.
The Ritz in London is near the luxury stores on Bond Street and it is the place to go for tea, even if you don't stay at the hotel, but if there are gentelmen in your party, they need a tie and jacket.
Ritz-Carlton Rewards will partner with the Marriott Rewards programme, whose members will now be able to earn Marriott Rewards points at The Ritz-Carlton hotels. It was not previously possible to earn points at this brand of the MAR portfolio. Elite Marriott Rewards members will also receive special benefits when staying at The Ritz-Carlton's properties in accordance with other MR brands, benefits. You can enroll at;
Beginning September 15, 2010, The Ritz-Carlton Hotels will conform by introducing this highly-anticipated luxury frequent guest stay program and Starting January 7, 2011, Marriott Rewards will also expand free internet access worldwide as a benefit for Gold and Platinum Elite members who stay at all JW Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Renaissance Hotels and The new, Autograph Collection. Last May, they began offering Gold and Platinum Elite members free high-speed internet access at hotels throughout America.
Now its going to be global, not just the U.S. and Canada. See my March post on Starwood’s free internet benefit. Starwood was the first to introduce the complementary service to elite members. They only require 50 nights to attain Platinum, whereas Marriott members have to stay 75 nights to enjoy platinum benefits. M R members reach Gold Elite status by staying 50 nights a year and Platinum Elite status by staying 75 nights a year. Elite members receive benefits depending on their elite level, including bonus points, elite-only offers, room upgrades, club lounge access, 48-hour availability and an exclusive phone line.

I have already enjoyed free internet at the Starwood, Sheraton Pretoria, South Africa plus at some European and other international destinations.

Friday, September 10, 2010

United / Continental Airlines offer double miles at Hawaiian Hotels

Continental Airlines has announced some offers today to earn double miles between Houston and some cities in Mexico through Oct. 31, 2010. You must register to get the double miles but due to the Narco-drug related violence, many people are choosing to have a truly stress free vacation in Hawaii. If you do, you can earn double miles when you stay four nights at one of the seven Hilton Worldwide hotels and resorts in Hawaii. Double miles at Hilton in Hawaii can be earned at OnePass Star Alliance member, through Dec. 31, 2010, You must book Plan Code H9 (Hilton, Hilton Grand Vacations and The Waldorf Astoria Collection) or HH9 (Embassy Suites and Doubletree) to receive this special offer. Continental will soon merge with United and many of their offers are parallel. The only difference is Uniteds Mileage Plus at Hilton is that till the end of this month, you get one complimentary bathrobe to keep, but I would not have room in my suitcase anyway. Rates start from $119 (using the same H9 code)
When I lived in China, I always tried to stop off for a few days of R & R in Hawaii and have always had a wonderful, tranquil time. Sometimes, the hassles encountered in developing countries wears one down and it is nice to be comfortable in a place where everything works the way it should. I feel safe at any time of the day or night walking along the Waikiki beach past all the ocean front hotels or in the 22 acres of the lushes, green garden vegetation of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa .
The ongoing offer to earn Star Alliance points at Hilton is the Hilton HHonors Double Dip. You can choose to earn from 2 Options letting you customize the way you earn both HHonors points and OnePass miles so that you maximize your mileage earnings for each stay. Choose from either of the following earning options:
    • 10 Hilton HHonors Points per U.S. Dollar spent + 1 OnePass mile per U.S. Dollar spent; or
    • 10 Hilton HHonors Points per U.S. Dollar spent + 500 OnePass miles per stay (100 OnePass miles per stay at Hampton Inn & Suites, and Homewood Suites). Details can be found on Hiltons Web site:

When you stay at participating Preferred Hotel Group properties you can earn double Mileage Plus miles. The Kahalu Hotel in Honolulu and Turtle bay are good choices. I am a dreadful golfer but I enjoy walking on the championship greens of Turtle Bay Resort Oahu at the northernmost point of the island. This premier Oahu luxury resort is the host for PGA and LPGA tournaments. Guests can always earn 500 miles for any night stay, but will earn 1000 till the end of December.
Earn quadruple miles when you stay at any Barceló Hotel and Resort property through Sept. 30, 2010. Plus earn an extra 3,000 miles when you book your stay at An extra opportunity is to get 250 bonus one pass miles when you use your MasterCard credit or debit card to purchase a ticket at continentals website..
In addition to the Preferred, Barcelo and Hilton offers, you can also choose to earn miles or hotel points with Marriott, Starwood, Wyndham Rewards program, Hyatt, Radisson, HIG and most other hotel chains directly.
I usually advise to choose points with the hotel chain of your choice, rather than earning airline miles from stays because it is a better deal, but if you don’t stick to one hotel and you do have to stick to the airline that has a hub in your city, it is best to have only one frequent flyer account doubling as a hotel point accumulator. You won’t reach Elite status with a hotel but the flip side is that you will be free to stay at any hotel.