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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR FEBRUARY 24, 2000


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

This week: Check both fares on code-share flights before booking; Magellan's moves to the Web; the world turns upside down on per-diem costs; America West suffers another operational meltdown; Lufthansa grounds part of its fleet and long delays result; and April in Sportsland.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Unfair Fares on Code Shares
So you'd think that airlines sharing codes would charge the same price for seats on their code-shared flights. Think again. Illogical as it sounds, each airline in a code-share arrangement sets its own fares. The inevitable result? Unfair fares and pricing chaos. One example: Book a roundtrip flight in business class between Los Angeles and Warsaw on United Airlines and you'll pay $6,150. But call Lufthansa, United's code-share partner, and it will sell you a ticket for roundtrip business-class ticket for $5,667. Same planes, same flights, same service, but a price difference of about $500. The lesson: Check the fares of both carriers before booking any code-shared flight.

CYBERTRAVELER: Get Your 'Stuff' Right Here
Like most business travelers, I'm into "stuff." If there's a new piece of luggage, a new gadget for my laptop, or a nifty little gimmick to make my life on the road easier, I'm buying it. And I buy a lot of my stuff from Magellan's (800-962-4943), the travel-supplies company staffed by people who really know (and care) about travel. The complete Magellan's catalog is on the Web (http://www.magellans.com). And as is the practice of John McManus, the wonderfully obsessed guy who runs Magellan's, the goods are surrounded with helpful tips, logical suggestions, and an endless amount of customer service.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The World Turned Upside Down
Shifts in local economies and the resurgent U.S. dollar have drastically altered the global landscape for travel costs in the last decade. According to Runzheimer International, the travel consultants, the recent trend has in many cases turned the world upside down. In 1988, for example, business travelers in Moscow could book a night's lodging and enjoy three meals for just $139. Now the cost of a night in Moscow is $391. By contrast, a night and three meals in Toyko cost $352 in 1998. But as the dollar strengthened against the yen and the Japanese economy weakened, the Tokyo per diem had increased only slightly, to $383, by 1999. The strength of the dollar has had a similar effect in Sydney. A night's lodging and three meals cost $245 in Sydney in 1998; a decade later, it is just $252. Elsewhere in the world, many formerly inexpensive destinations more than doubled in cost during the last decade. In 1988, the per diem for Buenos Aires was just $162; now it is $359. In Mexico City, a room and three meals cost $118 in 1988, but has risen to $260 today. Singapore has jumped from $126 to $285 during the same period. Are there any good deals out there for business travelers? Canada, says Runzheimer, where the weak Canadian dollar has kept costs for U.S. visitors low. Toronto, for example, has an average per diem rate of just $196 a day, making it one of the cheapest business travel destinations in the world.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
America West continues its slide into operational oblivion. Already plagued by maintenance problems, the industry's worst on-time performance, and unprecedented passenger-complaint rates, the Phoenix-based airline canceled 160 flights at the beginning of the President's Day weekend due to a computer snafu. Lufthansa grounded its entire fleet of 26 Boeing 747-400s and many of its 747-200s on February 22 after discovering a problem with engine-fire suppression hoses. Some flight cancellations and numerous delays on long-haul flights were reported, but all the planes are now back in the air. Airline pilots have up to 25 times the normal rate of skin cancer, according to researchers at the University of Reykjavik in Iceland. Part of the explanation may be disturbed sleep patterns. Circadian rhythms regulate sleep patterns and the production of the hormone melatonin and melatonin inhibits the growth of cancer cells, according to Dr. Vilhjalmur Rafnsson. The report was based on a study of 265 pilots who worked for Icelandair. Northwest is adding 47 flights at Memphis effective June 1. About half of the new flights will be operated by Northwest Airlink commuter carriers.

WEEKLY WONDER: April in Sportsland
Two of the sporting world's most popular events--and toughest tickets--are scheduled for April: the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia; and college basketball's Final Four at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. If you can't bum tickets from your boss or one of your clients, turn to Spectacular Sport Specials (800-451-5772). Prices for the company's Final Four packages from March 31 to April 4 start at $2,185 a person and include: tickets to the semi-final and championship games; four nights of accommodations; breakfast; and airport and game transfers. The firm's "Birdie Finals" package for the Masters from April 5-10 includes two days of admissions to the tournament; three nights of lodging; airport and golf-course transfers, breakfast and use of the Azalea Drive hospitality house. Prices start at $1,690 a person.

This column originally appeared at biztravel.com.

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