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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR JANUARY 20, 2000


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

This week: European fare wars expand; where to find great vegetarian meals; how airline alliances change their route maps--and our travel patterns; a follow-up on recent news reports; and putting on the Ritz with less dough.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: European Fare Wars Expand
That eye-popping $99 one-way fare to London has garnered all the headlines, but most of Europe is actually on sale during the weak winter travel period. Air France, for instance, is offering roundtrips to Paris for as low as $268 from the east and $398 from the west. Aer Lingus has posted roundtrip fares to Ireland and Northern Ireland at $278 (New York to Dublin), $298 (Boston to Belfast) and $348 (Los Angeles to Shannon). TAP Air Portugal is selling seats to Lisbon for as little as $189 one-way. And for flights from London to Britain and Europe, British Midland has slashed the cost of business-class seats. One-way fares range from $159 (to Edinburgh) to $359 (to Warsaw). Restrictions vary by carrier, of course. Generally, however, the lowest trans-Atlantic fares are available for mid-week travel in February, require a Saturday stay and must be purchased before January 31. British Midland's intra-Europe fares are mostly unrestricted, however.

CYBERTRAVELER: The Best Eats Without Meats
It's an inevitable pitfall of entertaining on the road: Someone in your party is a vegetarian and you need to find an appropriate place to eat. Or, you're a vegetarian yourself and want a dining room that caters to your guests, but also accommodates your dietary desires. To the rescue comes Vegetarian Times, which has whipped up a guide to the 31 best vegetarian restaurants in 15 major U.S. cities. Veggie Nation [http://www.vegetariantimes.com/specialfeat/index.html] includes the finest vegetarian restaurants and several outstanding "veg-friendly" dining rooms. The selection runs the gamut from cafes to Chinese mock-meat palaces to American bastions of haute cuisine.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: How Airline Alliances Change Travel Patterns
Austrian Airlines joins the Star Alliance on Sunday, March 26, and it offers a fascinating look at how these massive airline groupings change our travel patterns and the airlines' own route networks. Austrian, whose bellwether U.S. route is between New York/Kennedy and Vienna, has also been flying between Vienna and Atlanta, the hub of Delta Air Lines, its current code-share partner. But the Delta-Austrian code-share ends the day before Austrian joins Star. As a result, Austrian will drop its Atlanta route and launch flights to Vienna from Chicago/O'Hare and Washington/Dulles, important hubs for United Airlines, the U.S. anchor of the Star Alliance. The alliance switch will even affect Austrian's JFK-Vienna route: Austrian is moving out of the Delta WorldPort at JFK and, beginning March 26, will fly from Kennedy's Terminal One. "It would not be practical to keep the Atlanta flights" without the Delta code-share, explains Franz Zoechbauer, Austrian's general manager of the Americas. "Seventy percent of the bookings on the Atlanta flight is feeder traffic from Delta. But if I am not a partner of Delta, I do not have to fly to Atlanta. Now we will get our feeder traffic from United and the logical places to connect are Chicago and Washington. If you change your U.S. partner, you have to change the routes."

NEWSWATCH: More Details on Developing Stories
News is breaking fast in the business-travel world and there are important new details on stories we've covered in the recent weeks. Our warning two weeks back in Tactical Traveler that airlines would begin adding fuel surcharges has already come true. Effective immediately on tickets sold for domestic travel on or after February 1, Continental, American and United are adding a $10 one-way fuel surcharge. The three carriers surreptitiously loaded the surcharge into computers earlier this week without warning or public announcement; the fee will show up as an "add on" like taxes and will not appear in fare listings. As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, no other carriers had matched. ... The Brancatelli File last week focused on airline start-ups hoping to launch during the year. On Tuesday, the Department of Transportation certified a charter operator called Allegiant Air for scheduled service. Allegiant currently operates DC-9s public charters in a triangle between Fresno, Long Beach and Las Vegas. Allegiant will convert those flights to scheduled service and says it will add a Long Beach-Salt Lake City route next month. ... Several weeks ago, a Counter Intelligence item in Tactical Traveler covered the possibility of labor disruptions early this year at several major carriers. But the first situation to reach the boiling point is at Midwest Express. The National Mediation Board released the airline and its pilots into a 30-day "cooling off" period. Pilots are now free to strike after February 13 if no contract is reached.

WEEKLY WONDER: Putting on the Ritz, Lowering the Cost
Ritz-Carlton (800-241-3333) hotels and resorts have reduced rates for off-peak stays before March 31. The lowest prices are available on weekends at city hotels and for weekdays at the resorts. Sample rates: $115 in Kansas City; $119 in Montreal; $130 in Shanghai and $215 in Hong Kong. You must pay with an American Express card to get the lowest prices.

This column originally appeared at biztravel.com.

Copyright 1993-2007 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.