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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR MAY 6 TO MAY 20, 2004


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

This week: More spring flights from alternate airlines; more reports of airport luggage thefts; Air France and KLM merge; the deterioration of Adam's Mark hotels; a new tram in Minneapolis; cab fares rise in New York; Delta code-shares with suspect China Airlines; and much more.

ALTERNATE AGENDA: The New Flights Keep on Coming
The nation's alternate carriers continue their blitz of new service in the next 45 days. You all know about Southwest's launch of flights at US Airways' Philadelphia hub on Sunday, of course. But there's more new service on tap around the nation. On the same day, Midwest Airlines resumes its seasonal service between Milwaukee and San Francisco and Frontier Airlines adds seasonal flights between Denver and Anchorage. ... America West continues its expansion on transcontinental routes on June 1 when it begins twice-daily nonstop service between Los Angeles and Washington/Dulles. ... And on June 17 Aloha Airlines begins flying between Oakland and Lihue on the Island of Kauai. Aloha already flies to Honolulu, Maui and Kona on the Big Island from Oakland. The seasonal flights to Kauai continue until September 6.

AIRPORT REPORT: Another Disturbing Airport Trend
Just a week after a slew of Transportation Security Administration security screeners were busted for allegedly stealing laptop computers and other electronics at Detroit/Metro, a baggage handler at the airport in Long Beach, California, was arrested for theft. Police say the baggage handler was caught in a sting operation that netted more than $200,000 in electronics, clothes, fancy perfume, designer bags--and even a couple of All-Star game jerseys worn by Ron Artest of the Indiana Pacers. The material was allegedly stolen from American Airlines passengers in Long Beach. ... The Concourse Tram has opened at Minneapolis/St. Paul. The 2,700-foot system makes three stops: the intersection of Concourses C and D; the skyway connecting Concourses C and G; and the rotunda where Concourses A, B and C intersect. ... Beware of trouble at Detroit/Metro, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Memphis, Northwest Airlines' hubs. The carrier says it is laying off about 120 airport customer-service agents and is replacing them with skycaps. The skycaps, who earn about half what ticket-counter agents make, will help travelers with luggage at curbside and inside the terminals when they use check-in kiosks. The union representing the ticket-counter agents is obviously incensed. ... Tallahassee has opened a food court just beyond the security checkpoints.

INTERNATIONAL ITINERARY: The Big Deal Is Done in Europe
Air France and KLM have completed their blockbuster merger--or, more specifically, the parent companies of both carriers have merged. The parent company, Air France KLM, will continue to maintain separate hubs in Paris and Amsterdam, at least for a while. ... American Airlines and British Airways now offer interlined E-tickets on most joint itineraries. ... Heads up: Delta Air Lines now code-shares with China Airlines, a carrier with one of the world's worst safety records. If you want to avoid CAL flights, beware of Delta flights to Taipei from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and New York/JFK. On June 22, Delta will also slap its code on CAL's Seattle-Taipei service.

IN THE LOBBY: The End Seems Near for Adam's Mark
Adam's Mark, which has been shrinking dramatically in the last year, is about to lose two more properties. The 603-room Adam's Mark in Winston-Salem, which is connected to the city's convention center by an underground pedestrian tunnel, has been purchased by the Noble Investment Group. Noble says it will renovate and divide the property into a 150-room Embassy Suites and a 316-room Marriott. Also disappearing from the Adam's Mark brand is the property in Daytona Beach, Florida. That property will be converted to a Hilton before the end of the year. The existing Hilton in Daytona Beach is becoming an independent property. Meanwhile, the Adam's Mark in Buffalo, New York, is under attack by community leaders after the shrinking chain fired the hotel's black general manager. The NAACP boycotted Adam's Mark in 2000 and 2001 after allegations of discrimination at the aforementioned Daytona Beach property. Almost a dozen other Adam's Mark hotels have switched brands in recent months. ... In England, Hilton has opened a 254-room hotel in Gateshead overlooking the Newcastle and the Tyne Bridge. ... In Osaka, the 548-room Swissotel Nankai has reopened after an 8-month renovation.

MILES & POINTS: More Miles for Everyday Stuff
Columbia House, the DVD club, now offers Delta SkyMiles. Travelers receive 3,000 miles for joining Columbia House and agreeing to buy six DVDs in two years. ... Points.com has purchased Milepoint.com, its major "mile exchange" rival. ... Separately, S&H Greenpoints, the successor to Green Stamps that is still popular in supermarkets, has joined the Points.com exchange service.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
US Airways has joined the Star Alliance. ... Cab fares have risen in New York City. The increase is estimated at about 25 percent on each local fare. The new fees: $2.50 when the flag drops; 40 cents each fifth of a mile; and a new $1 surcharge on rides between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays. The flat fare for trips from Kennedy Airport to Manhattan rose $10 to $45 and the above-meter surcharge for trips to Newark Airport rose to $15 from $10. ...Diners Club in the United States will soon carry the MasterCard logo if a deal between the flagging charge card and the bank association is completed. It means Diners Club cards would be accepted at any place that accepts MasterCard. ... American Airlines, which had stopped installing laptop power points on its planes, resumes installations later this year. The airline says its entire fleet of MD-80s will be equipped with the electrical outlets by next spring.

THE PARTING SHOT: It's Not Easy Being Green...
A woman on a Qantas flight from Melbourne to Wellington, New Zealand, last week found a live tree frog in her pre-packaged bowl of salad. Qantas says it has now changed lettuce suppliers in Melbourne. Meanwhile, without due process and in total disregard for generally accepted standards of jurisprudence, New Zealand Quarantine Service officials tried, convicted and froze the frog to death after its arrival in Wellington. I dunno, it seems like just another instance of an airline blaming the passenger--in this case, the frog.

This column originally appeared at joesentme.com.

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