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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR OCTOBER 16 TO OCTOBER 23, 2003


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

This week: Singapore Airlines announces ultra-long Los Angeles-Singapore nonstops with a creative new two-class configuration; AirTran expands in Washington while Delta contracts in Salt Lake City; a watery Las Vegas icon closes; United offers double elite miles--if you pay for them; and much more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Singapore Goes Long--and Creative
Singapore Airlines made very big (or, perhaps more accurately, very long) news yesterday when it announced plans to fly nonstop between Los Angeles and Singapore beginning in February. The flights will be the longest hauls in the world: the 7,939-mile Singapore-Los Angeles flights will consume 16 hours and the 8,179-mile Los Angeles-Singapore run will require a whopping 18.5 hours. But careful observers will note an even more important bit of business-travel history being made with the in-flight configuration Singapore proposes to use on the route. The carrier will outfit its new Airbus A340-500s with just 64 lie-flat SpaceBeds in business class and 117 seats in a new cabin the carrier calls "Executive Economy." The cabin, priced about 10 percent above traditional coach on Singapore's one-stop flights, will offer 2-3-2 seating. Each chair will be 20 inches wide with 37 inches of legroom and outfitted with a 9-inch personal video monitor. An AC power supply will be available at every other seat. What won't be on the Singapore-LAX nonstops? Traditional first-class and coach cabins, neither of which are particularly profitable anymore nor in tune with the needs of most business travelers.

ALTERNATE ARRANGEMENTS: AirTran Expands in Washington
AirTran continues its apparently endless growth cycle next week when it expands at Washington/National beginning October 23. There will be three daily nonstops to its Atlanta hub and one daily nonstop to both Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Boeing 717s configured with business-class and coach cabins will be used on all the routes. ... ATA Airways launches two daily nonstop flights between Newark and San Francisco beginning October 26. ... On the same day, America West is adding daily nonstop service between its Las Vegas hub and St. Louis.

AIRPORT REPORT: Parking Gets a Little Easier
Several major U.S. airports have made changes in their parking procedures. At Minneapolis/St. Paul, airport authorities have opened a self-payment system on the parking ramps of the Lindbergh and Humphrey terminals. Travelers use a credit card to enter and exit the facilities and receive a printed receipt for the parking charge on departure. ... A 1,500-car, off-airport parking lot has opened near Chicago/Midway. Located on 47th Street just off the Central and Cicero Avenue exits, the facility offers 24-hour shuttle service to the terminals. ... Dallas/Fort Worth travelers can now use their North Texas Tollway TollTags to pay for parking garage charges as well as pass-through and drop-off fees. Fees of less than $10 are charged to the tag; larger amounts are billed directly to the credit card tied to the TollTag. ... A 226-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel has opened at Frederic Chopin International Airport in Warsaw, Poland. The property offers a 150-seat restaurant and a 24-hour snack facility. Guestrooms have high-speed Internet access and laptop-sized safes.

INTERNATIONAL ITINERARY: Comings and Goings
United Airlines is dropping Newark-London/Heathrow nonstops after selling the take-off and landing slots it uses for the service to British Airways. ... Lufthansa continues to expand service to its Munich hub. Effective October 26, it launches daily flights to Miami, Dubai and Johannesburg. A Boeing 767 will be used on the Miami flights. ... Air Canada launches nonstop daily flights between Toronto and Delhi on October 26. Airbus A340s will be used on the route. ... On the same day, US Airways expands its weekend-only route between Boston and San Juan to daily service.

IN THE LOBBY: Say Goodbye to a Las Vegas Icon
The Glass Pool Inn in Las Vegas has closed and will soon be demolished. You may never have stayed at the 48-room motel, but you surely know the motel's famous above-ground pool with glass-enclosed windows. The pool is one of Las Vegas's most-photographed destinations and appeared in dozens of movies, television shows and music videos. ... Fifteen Summerfield Suites properties are being rebranded as Staybridge Suites hotels this month. All 15 are owned by Hospitality Properties Trust, which says Wyndham Hotels, owner of the Summerfield name, defaulted on its rent. ... Rocco Forte Hotels, which owns deluxe hotels in several major cities around the world, is taking over management of the Château de Bagnols in the Beaujolais region of France.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Just a week after Northwest Airlines announced big cuts at its Memphis hub, Delta Air Lines says it will slash service at its Salt Lake City hub. Effective January 7, Delta will cut 20 of its 115 daily jet flights and an entire bank of connecting flights. Delta's commuter carriers will replace Delta jet service on most of the routes. ... Planning to take a Hawaiian holiday over the Christmas season? It may already be too late. Many hotels in the islands report they are sold out for the period between December 24 and January 3. ... In another attempt to woo back business travelers, United Airlines is offering double elite qualifying miles on all flights until December 15. The hitch: Participating in the promotion will cost you a nonrefundable $100. The double miles do not accrue toward your general account, only toward qualifying for Mileage Plus' three elite levels: Premier, Premier executive and 1K. Complete details are available at the Double Elite Miles page of the United site.

This column originally appeared at JoeSentMe.com.

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