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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR AUGUST 8 TO AUGUST 15, 2002


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

This week: British Airways shifts more U.S. flights to Heathrow; AirTran jumps into Kansas City; Zip launches its Website in Canada; a one-stop source for Italian museum reservations; Amtrak may slash high-speed Acela service; and more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: BA Shores Up Heathrow as Its Primary Hub
British Airways has all but abandoned its two-hub strategy in London and continues to shift longer-haul flights from Gatwick to Heathrow. Effective with its new winter schedule beginning October 26, BA will transfer three more U.S. routes (Denver, San Diego and Phoenix) to its primary hub at Heathrow. Also moving to Heathrow from Gatwick will be flights to a pair of African capitals, Harare, Zimbabwe, and Lusaka, Zambia. Rounding out the Heathrow migration will be flights operating to St. Petersburg, Russia; Tripoli, Libya; and Sofia, Bulgaria. The shifts to Heathrow should benefit U.S. travelers, who are often forced to endure a time-consuming bus ride from Heathrow to reach departing BA flights at Gatwick.

ALTERNATE ARRANGEMENTS: AirTran Jumps Into Kansas City
The demise of Vanguard Airlines last week has once again left Kansas City dreadfully short of air service. AirTran will fill some of the gap by launching nonstop flights to its Atlanta hub beginning October 8. There will be three daily flights and introductory fares start at $79 one-way. Regular walk-up fares will be $199 one-way and seats in business class will be $25 more. ... American Trans Air says it will launch twice-daily flights to San Jose, California, from its Chicago/Midway hub beginning October 1. Off-peak introductory fares are as low as $89 one-way. ... Frontier Airlines, the Denver-based carrier that is struggling to withstand a withering fare attack from United Airlines, thinks it has found three new markets. Effective October 22, the carrier will offer two daily nonstops to Oklahoma City; two daily nonstops to Tucson, Arizona; and a daily nonstop to Fort Myers, Florida.

AIRPORT REPORT: San Francisco Gets Its Rail Link in January
San Francisco International may get its long-awaited link to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system by early January, according to airport and BART officials. After almost five years of construction and more than a decade of wrangling, the SFO station and rail infrastructure are about 97 percent complete. ... Air Canada is now selling freestanding memberships for its network of Maple Leaf Lounge airport clubs. Prices start at C$375 a year. ... Continental Airlines is resuming service between its Newark hub and Daytona Beach in December. The airline dropped its daily flight after September 11, but Daytona Beach authorities secured a federal grant of almost $750,000 to lure the carrier back. It will now offer two daily flights using 50-seat regional jets. ... Mexican government officials have abandoned Texcoco as the site of a new airport for Mexico City. The government acted after local farmers staged sometimes violent protests against the site.

INTERNATIONAL ITINERARY: A One-Stop Outlet for Italian Museums
Everyone who loves Italy surely hates the infuriating, inconvenient and often incoherent Italian policy toward securing museum admissions. But a company called Select Italy is emerging as a comprehensive one-stop U.S. source for advance reservations for leading Italian culture sites. Besides other attractions, the company's museum service now includes tickets and reservations for the Vatican Museum Tour and the Galleria Borghese in Rome; admission to the Uffizi Gallery and Boboli Gardens in Florence; admission to see Da Vinci's "Last Supper" in Milan and the Leaning Tower of Pisa; and the newly introduced Venice Card, which covers museums, public transportation and other services in the notoriously difficult-to-navigate city. For more information, consult the Select Italy Web site. ... Zip, the latest of Air Canada's discount carriers, launches on September 22 and the Zip site went live for reservations on Thursday, August 8. Fares start as low as C$89 one-way for flights between major Western Canadian destinations such as Calgary, Winnipeg and Edmonton.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Even though it is stealing customers from the established Air Shuttle service between New York/LaGuardia and Washington/National, the high-speed Amtrak Acela train faces service cutbacks. The train's on-time performance has slipped to 74 percent and cancellations have tripled since the beginning of the year. Amtrak says reducing service will increase reliability. ... The Delta Connection/Atlantic Southeast pilot who was stopped before boarding his flight last week because security screeners believed he was drunk has resigned. Neither the airline nor the pilot will comment on the matter. ... The Department of Transportation says it will accept public comment on the proposed code-share between United Airlines and US Airways. DOT cannot stop the code-share, but can delay it for up to six months and erect other roadblocks. The agency has never before solicited public comment on a code-share application. ... Alonzo Spellman, a former National Football League lineman, has been charged with terrorizing fellow passengers on a flight. The 6-foot, 6-inch, 320-pound defensive end was not arrested on the July 23 flight from Cincinnati, nor was he detained when the plane landed in Philadelphia. But he was arrested after allegedly ransacking his brother's home in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

This column originally appeared at JoeSentMe.com.

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