Meeting News - November 10, 2008 - (Page 20)

Transportation & Services As business class becomes more a distant memory for travelers who can no longer justify the expense on tightened meetings budgets, airlines are looking for ways around the conundrum with products designed to get corporations to put their employees back in 52-inch-seat pitch. The latest is the new British Airways spinoff airline OpenSkies. The subsidiary started flying earlier this year after the Open Skies agreement, which allows airlines to fly routes outside their countries of origin, went into effect. The airline launched in July with flights to Paris from JFK. A JFK-to-Amsterdam route kicked off this month. Using two-cabin aircraft, OpenSkies said it offers a comparable seat recline to many major carriers’ business-class service, along with perks like meals and bigger entertainment packages. “The product is really customtailored for corporate travel [handlers] who have a policy against Edited by William Ng OpenSkies Puts Business Class Under T&E Radar for Planners routes to Milan, Brussels, and Frankfurt, as well. Still, OpenSkies may have come too late to woo business travelers who have been left to their own devices for too long. Events specialists Greg Poulos, president of Boston-based Bluefin Productions Inc., and Ken Deans, principal of Los Angeles-based LGI Worldwide, hew to a policy of flying coach but let employees keep their frequent flyer miles. “I have no problems with them using their mileage status for upgrades,” said Deans. At the other end of the spectrum, Michael Roth, owner of Horizons Aloft, a Dallas-based private-air advocacy company, said,“I stopped flying the airlines because I realized that I can travel by private aircraft instead. It’s cheaper than the unrestricted coach fare, faster on trips less than 900 miles, and way less hassle to boot.” OpenSkies, a British Airways spinoff that takes advantage of airroute deregulation, offers business-class-like seats and amenities. booking business class,” said OpenSkies marketing VP Tracy Sanford. Is the product designed to take the place of business-class-only airlines (Silverjet, Eos, Maxjet) that went out of business this year? “Those were airlines that flew from New York direct to their countries of origin,” said Sanford. “What OpenSkies does is offer direct flights from the U.S. to destinations other than London. For direct New York-to-London, there’s still [British Airways].” Next up for OpenSkies is the purchase of L’Avion and integration of the French airline’s jets into OpenSkies’ fleet. It is looking at State of Maryland Puts the Cap On Rental Car Refueling Costs Hertz adds fee to refill tanks at local market rates One of the most troublesome costs for business travelers is the rental car refueling charge. What once cost a few dollars in exchange for the convenience of driving back to the lot without stopping for gas now can cost almost as much as the car rental itself. Almost every major car rental company has a refueling charge. Things got so pricey this summer that Maryland decided to put a cap on what companies can charge. The rental firms agreed to lower their charges around the state to between 133 and 142 percent of local market prices, or to market prices with a service fee of no more than $10. Hertz followed by announcing that it was charging customers a flat $6.99 service fee for refueling cars at local market prices. Avis is “taking a close look” at its options in this area but has not adopted that type of refueling policy. Dollar Thrifty said it was monitoring the situation, too. “Other companies are now examining the wisdom or folly of Hertz’s actions,” said car rental consultant Neil Abrams, who does not believe state caps are fair and allow for free trade. Abrams said Hertz is banking on customers calculating that the market price per gallon plus a service fee is worth skipping the pump. “‘My time is worth more’ is what people will be thinking,” he said. As gas prices settle down, Abrams said rental companies may rethink their refueling charges across the U.S. “Selling gas is not the primary business of car rental companies,” he said. H —Section by Gretchen Kelly 20 MeetingNews November 10, 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meeting News - November 10, 2008

Meeting News - November 10, 2008
MN Exclusive Research
%20%20%20%20%20Green & Social Responsibility: The Year that Was in Meetings
Incentive Special: Recovering from AIG
What's Up @
Letters to the Editor
Inside the Meetings Industry
South Africa Supplement
Newsmaker Q&A
People Making News
Hotels & Resorts
%20%20%20%20%20Starwood Hopes E-Portal is Small Meeting Utopia
%20%20%20%20%20Intercontinental O'Hare Puts Art at Forefront
Convention Centers
%20%20%20%20%20Dallas and Philadelphia Move on Their Projects
%20%20%20%20%20Jacksonville Markets to Medical, Cultural Groups
%20%20%20%20%20Jamaica's Rose Hall Area Blossoms with Resorts
%20%20%20%20%20EIBTM Puts Together an Ambitious Program
Transportation & Services
Meeting News South
Green Beat
Destination Insider
%20%20%20%20%20Fort Lauderdale
Incentive Report
MN Webcast Report
Ad Index
Live from the Forum

Meeting News - November 10, 2008