News Roundup: New W Hotel, Hold Fares On Emirates, Delta flys to Osaka & More

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A few bits of news that don’t warrant a whole post of their own but that may be of interest:

Starwood have announced a new hotel for Philadelphia and this one is slightly different. Opening in early 2018, a 51 storey skyscraper in the centre of Philly’s business and retail districts will be home to both the W Hotel Philadelphia and the Element Philadelphia.

The W Hotels concept ( too “hip”, too dark and often too overpriced) is probably a familiar one to most of you – the ones around the US are mostly disappointments with the better ones being found in Asia so I’m not especially excited about this news – but the Element hotels may not be so familiar and they offer something  a little different.

The Element hotels are Starwood’s ‘extended stay’ hotels and come with small kitchens to allow business people or families to be a bit more self sufficient on their travels (they’re Starwood’s equivalent of Marriott’s Residence Inn collection – just a bit more modern). They’re great for anyone travelling on a budget or anyone who’d prefer to get their own breakfast or simple dinner rather than overpay for what hotels have to offer.

Element Miami Airport

Element Miami Airport

Another aspect of the Element hotels is that they’re designed to be ‘sustainable hotels’ so they’re all required to be U.S. Green Building Council LEED (or equivalent) certified irrespective of where in the world they are. The rooms come with Westin Heavenly beds and include free WiFi and, in the majority of cases, free bike rentals to add further evidence of the ‘eco-friendliness’ of the concept.

A new W-Hotel in the US isn’t particularly interesting to me – they’re just not my thing – but I’m looking forward to seeing how this new Element hotel (all 460 rooms of it) turns out as the concept certainly has appeal.

Delta is to resume daily service between Tokyo-Narita and Osaka from 27 March 2017. The route will be an extension of Delta’s existing JFK to Narita service and is a resumption of a route that Delta suspended in June 2010.

Osaka is the third largest city in Japan with a population of over 2.5 million in its metropolitan area so Delta clearly sees a market for this flight – but it will be interesting to see how the route works out. Presumably Delta didn’t suspend the route without good reason in 2010 (fuel was considerably more expensive back then so that probably played a  role) but will passenger numbers and yields be high enough to keep this route open?

JetStar, the Australian low-cost offshoot of Qantas, is to commence regional New Zealand services from December this year “bringing much-needed competition and more affordable fares to travellers outside the country’s main centres“.

The new routes will be serviced by a fleet of 5 50-seat Bombardier Q300 turbo-props and are expected to include destinations like Rotorua and Palmerston on the North Island and Nelson and Invercargil on the South Island.

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This will be seen as a very welcome announcement by anyone who’s ever tried to book an internal flight in New Zealand only to find the cost prohibitive (internal flights can often cost considerably more than flights to Australia). Seats for the new routes are expected to go on sale in September with the first flights taking off around the beginning of December – perfect for the holiday season.

Emirates are adding the ability to put fares on hold to their website – for a fee and for Economy Class fares only.

If you find a flight and fare that suit your needs but you’re not quite ready to commit you can place your Emirates fare on hold for 48 hours. As with most things in life this isn’t free and the cost varies by route but you will get the fee back if you eventually book the flight you placed on hold. Per Emirates’ website:

The fee is different depending on your route, and ranges for short-haul, medium-haul and long-haul flights. The fee applies to each passenger, but not to infants. And if you pay your full fare within 48 hours, you won’t have to pay the reservation fee.

Playing around with a few routes shows the following fees (click all images to enlarge):

JFK-DXB-JFK itinerary in October – $30/passenger

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LHR-DXB-LHR in October – £15/passenger (approx. $23/passenger)

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DXB-MLE-DXB in October – 50 AED/passenger (approx. $14/passenger)

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The restrictions of the new service are:

  • Only for Economy Class bookings
  • Can only be used up to 21 days before the flight
  • Cannot be used if there are other products being purchased at the same time (e.g. hotel bookings or travel insurance).
  • Cannot be used in conjunction with special offers or flights on codeshare partners.

Full FAQ here.