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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR AUGUST 9 TO 16, 2001


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

This week: negotiators race the strike clock at United Express/Air Wisconsin; Southwest and Canada 3000 are adding more low-fare flights; Hilton drops its energy surcharge; Cathay Pacific resumes its New York flights; United and TWA improve some first-class seats; and much more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Racing the Strike Clock at Air Wisconsin
Last-ditch negotiations resumed Wednesday between Air Wisconsin and its pilots in an attempt to stop a Sunday strike at the United Express carrier. The commuter airline, which flies to 40 Midwestern and Western cities from United's hubs at Chicago/O'Hare and Denver, is already canceling service, however. It has dropped jet flights between Chicago and Louisville, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Madison and Moline; canceled its regional-jet service between Denver and Fargo, Omaha and Peoria; and eliminated its prop service between Denver and four Colorado resort areas. Failing a contract agreement, only Presidential intervention can stop an Air Wisconsin strike because a federally mandated 30-day cooling off period ends Sunday. As of late Wednesday, however, United had made no contingency plans for its passengers ticketed on Air Wisconsin and hadn't even begun posting updates on its website. Air Wisconsin's own site was equally mum.

ALTERNATE ITINERARY: Our Weekly Look at The Nation's Other Carriers
Southwest Airlines
is adding a raft of new nonstop flights on October 28. Among the additions: a daily nonstop between Oakland and New Orleans; a daily nonstop between Hartford and Tampa; a daily nonstop between Raleigh-Durham and San Antonio; and a daily nonstop between San Diego and San Antonio. Introductory fares are as low as $99 one-way on each route. Separately, Southwest said it will remove the in-flight phones from all of its aircraft during the next year. The airline said phone use has declined dramatically in recent months. Canada 3000, the last major competitor to Air Canada, is boosting its flight schedules throughout the summer. Included is additional service from Halifax to Toronto and St. John's, Newfoundland; an additional nonstop between Toronto and Newark; and more flights from Moncton.

CONNECTIONS: Airline News You Need to Know
TWA is adjusting the first-class chairs on its B-717s. After some passenger complaints, TWA is adding an inch of recline to the chairs' upright position and installing softer cushions. Speaking of first-class seating, United Airlines has finally completed the installation of its so-called First Suite on all the planes in its international B-777 and B-747 fleets. The six-foot, six-inch lie-flat beds took almost two years to install, but the product has won raves from long-haul travelers impressed with their comfort, privacy, layout and storage space. And speaking of sleeper seats, Korean Air is now offering four daily flights to Seoul from the United States equipped with first-class sleepers. There are two daily flights from Los Angeles and two from New York/Kennedy. One of the Kennedy flights stops at Chicago/O'Hare en route. The schedule operates through the end of August. Air France will not resume its daily Cincinnati-Paris service in October as previously announced. The flights, suspended on July 22, are now scheduled to return next April. Cathay Pacific last week resumed its daily Kennedy-Vancouver-Hong Kong flight that was suspended on July 8. But the airline's much-anticipated New York-Hong Kong nonstop won't launch until after the first quarter next year.

IN THE LOBBY: Name Changes and Cultural Comity
Anybody out there know the name of the parent company of Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Inter-Continental hotels? If you guessed Bass Hotels, you would have been right. I say would have because the company has now changed its name to Six Continents Hotels. Travelers with long memories will remember Six Continents was the name of Inter-Continental's guest-recognition program in the days before the chain was bought by Bass. Bass recently sold its brewing and pub businesses--and the rights to the Bass name--to concentrate on hotels. Speaking of convoluted name changes, the hotel at 6225 West Century Boulevard, just outside of Los Angeles International Airport, has reopened as a Radisson. The property had been a Wyndham for five years before closing for an $18 million renovation. Before that, it was a Hyatt hotel for 20 years. A branch of the Bishop Museum, widely revered as the Smithsonian of the Pacific, has opened on the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort. The facility is located on the 22-acre resort's newly opened Kalia Tower.

UPDATE: A Follow Up on Recent News
As predicted in last week's column, hotels are beginning to eliminate those annoying hotel surcharges imposed earlier this year. Hilton has announced its fees will disappear on September 1. Omni is expected to follow suit soon. The controversial art carved in the granite floor tiles of the American Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport will remain on display after all. The city's Cultural Affairs Commission said last week that the display, which features nude male figures, was in line with the original plans for the terminal renovation approved almost three years ago.

THE WEEKLY WONDER: $30 for 30 Years at Payless
Payless Car Rental (800-PAYLESS) is celebrating its 30th anniversary by adding locations in more than a half-dozen new markets in the United States. It is also offering a special anniversary price--$30 a day for a mid-sized car--at most of its 125 locations.

This column originally appeared at biztravel.com.

Copyright 1993-2004 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.