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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR NOVEMBER 13 TO NOVEMBER 20, 2003


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

This week: Luggage locks that pass TSA muster are now on sale; AirTran is expanding at DFW; an airport named Bob and an airline named Ted; Marriott won't offer Web-only room rates; Delta moves its old Shuttle planes (and their extra coach legroom) to the heartland; and more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Luggage Locks That the TSA Loves
Ever since the Transportation Security Adminis-tration began inspecting checked luggage on December 31, some travelers have been irate that the agency was requesting bags remain unlocked. And they certainly hated it when the TSA broke locks on bags they chose to inspect. To the rescue comes a company called Travel Sentry, which is first-to-market with a TSA-approved locking system. The device allows travelers to secure their bags using traditional-looking luggage locks, but also allows TSA screeners to inspect bags. Screeners can open the locks--which are identified with a red-diamond logo--using a series of codes and a special master key. Locks using Travel Sentry's technology went on sale yesterday at Brookstone and retail for $20 a pair. Magellan's, the respected travel-goods retailer, says the locks will be available via its Web site by the first of the year. Hard-sided luggage with the TSA-approved locks integrated into their designs are expected to go on sale sometime next year.

ALTERNATE AGENDA: AirTran Ramps Up Its DFW Expansion
AirTran Airways is adding a third city to its Dallas/Fort Worth flight schedule. Beginning November 19, it will fly a daily DFW-Boston nonstop. It already flies six times daily from DFW to its Atlanta hub and daily to Orlando. It will add 18 additional flights and several new cities beginning January 7 when it moves to four gates at DFW's Terminal B. ... Long-legged flyers take note: JetBlue Airways has completed the reconfiguration of its fleet of Airbus A320s. By removing the last row of seats from each plane, JetBlue aircraft now offer 34 inches of seat pitch in Row 1 and Rows 11-26. Seats in Rows 2 to 10 have 32 inches of legroom. ... Beginning November 20, ATA Airlines adds a second daily nonstop between San Francisco and Honolulu. The wrinkle? The flight originates at New York/LaGuardia, meaning it is the only same-plane service between LaGuardia and Hawaii. ... American Airlines cut its St. Louis hub in half last month and now Southwest Airlines is moving to fill the gap. Effective March 7, the low-fare giant will launch daily nonstops from St. Louis to both Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale.

AIRPORT REPORT: An Airport Named Bob
Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena, which most business travelers sanely call "Burbank," may be changing its name. Burbank airport officials have approved a proposal to rename the facility after Bob Hope, the legendary comedian. Hope, who died earlier this year, was a regular at Burbank and housed his plane there. The name change requires the approval of the city councils of all three communities, however. ... Delta Airlines has opened a Crown Room Club at Arturo Merino International Airport in Santiago, Chile. Despite its extensive Latin American service, it's Delta's first club in the region. ... JetBlue Airways says it now offers free wireless Internet access throughout the departure-gate areas of Terminal 6 at its New York/Kennedy hub. JetBlue already offers free wireless access at Long Beach, its West Coast base. ... Dollar Rent A Car and its sister firm, Thrifty Car Rental, have reopened a location inside Richmond International airport. ... City and airport officials in Denver have agreed to build additional facilities for both Frontier and United airlines, ending a contentious, months-long debate between the two carriers.

IN THE LOBBY: Hotel News You Need to Know
The oft-delayed Westin Casuarina hotel has opened in Las Vegas. The 825-room property is located on the site of the former Maxim hotel on Flamingo Road. ... Radisson SAS is now managing the former Crowne Plaza hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. Radisson says the 248-room property will immediately undergo a $7.5 million renovation. ... A 342-room JW Marriott hotel has opened at the new Tomorrow Square development in Shanghai, China. The hotel is housed in a 60-story tower in the city's fast-growing Puxi downtown neighborhood. ... Speaking of Marriott, the company says its hotels will not offer Web-only rates. The company says all of its brands (except Ritz-Carlton) will offer all of its room rates via all retail distribution channels.

ON THE FLY: An Airline Named Ted--and a More Rational Idea
United Airlines is apparently dedicated to shooting itself in its already-bankrupt foot. The carrier says it will launch a new low-fare carrier in February called Ted. In case you're not as smart as the branding and marketing geniuses who invented the name, Ted represents the last three letters of United. The Ted Web site is already operating and will begin accepting travel reservations next week. The airline will offer traditional coach seating and United's Economy Plus section. In explaining the goofy name, airline executives told employees that they "did not want a made-up name that didn't mean anything." Honest, that's what they said! ... The publicity surrounding Ted obscured a much more rational announcement from Delta Air Lines. During a 12-week test that began Monday on flights from Atlanta to Kansas City and Houston/Hobby, Delta is offering one-class service on 150-seat Boeing B737s. The planes (which formerly flew on Delta Shuttle routes in the Northeast Corridor) offer 36 inches of legroom at each leather chair and in-flight power outlets. Perks include free newspapers, gourmet coffee, chocolates, salty snacks and evening cocktails.

THE PARTING SHOT: The Beaujolais Nouveau Thing
Remember when the arrival of the first Beaujolais Nouveau whipped the wine world into a froth? It may be an anti-French thing or just exhaustion from too many years of relentless promotion, but the world doesn't froth up anymore when the first bottles are released on the third Thursday of November. But, you know what? I like Beaujolais Nouveau when the harvest is good. Which is all a long-winded way of saying that the Leopard Lounge at the Chesterfield Hotel (561-659-5800) in Palm Beach, Florida, is holding a Beaujolais Nouveau tasting next Thursday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Admission is $12 a person and the event will feature the wines of Georges Duboeuf, the man who single-handedly put Beaujolais Nouveau on the world wine map.

This column originally appeared at JoeSentMe.com.

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