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 The Tactical Traveler

joe JOE BRANCATELLI'S BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR MARCH 31 TO APRIL 14, 2005
A Raft of New International Routes This Spring
So many new international flights are launching in the next few months that you might want to get a multilingual scorecard to keep track. American Airlines, for example, resumes its seasonal New York/Kennedy-Rome flights on Sunday. The daily flight will operate with a Boeing 767 configured with 30 business-class seats and 189 coach seats. Delta Air Lines begins a daily JFK-Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, flight on May 1. It then begins daily Atlanta-Moscow service on June 1. The Moscow flight will operate with Boeing 767-300s. Continental Airlines says its will launch its Newark-Beijing service on June 15 with one daily Boeing 777-200 flight. International carriers will also be growing this spring. Lufthansa, for instance, begins a daily flight to its Munich hub from Washington/Dulles on May 2. The three-class flights will be serviced by an Airbus A340-300. Air France resumes its Cincinnati-Paris/Charles DeGaulle flights on May 9 then launches a daily flight to Paris from Detroit/Metro on June 13. But the big news of the spring comes from Thai Airways, which mounts a 17-hour nonstop between Kennedy and Bangkok beginning May 1. The ultra long-haul service will be flown with specially configured Airbus A340-500s that offer business class, premium economy and a coach cabin. The coach-class seats will have an extremely generous 36 inches of seat pitch. (A note to readers: Check the new Airline Deals page for information about Thai's introductory fares in both business and coach class.)

US Airways Shutters Four More Airport Clubs
US Airways is closing four more airport clubs over the weekend. Effective April 2, the twice-bankrupt airline will close its lounges in Los Angeles, San Francisco and West Palm Beach. Additionally, US Airways says it won't reopen its club in Orlando; it has been closed since last October. Southwest Airlines pulls out of Houston/Intercontinental on Saturday. The first combination Starbucks/business center has opened in Terminal C at Dallas/Fort Worth. Officials of Paris/Charles DeGaulle Airport say they will demolish and then rebuild the entire roof of the departure area of Terminal 2E. Four people died and three were injured last spring when a 100-foot section of the curving roof collapsed. Two Hilton family hotels have opened near Washington/Dulles Airport. The 90-unit Homewood Suites and the 150-room Embassy Suites have opened side-by-side on Waxpool Road.

Frontier and America West Bulk Up at Their Hubs
After an ill-fated attempt to grow in Los Angeles, Frontier Airlines has returned to growing at its primary hub in Denver. Effective May 8, it will add twice-daily flights to Detroit/Metro. That will be followed by twice-day flights to Tulsa on May 22, twice-daily flights to Akron-Canton on June 15 and twice-daily flights to San Antonio on June 26. All of the routes except Tulsa will be served by Airbus aircraft configured with 33 inches of seat pitch and pay-per view DirecTV. Seventy-seat regional jets will be used on Denver-Tulsa. America West continues to bulk up at its Las Vegas hub. On Sunday, it launches a daily nonstop to Pittsburgh. On May 1, the airline launches a daily flight to Anchorage. On May 6, it will begin a daily nonstop to Oklahoma City. On the same day, it will also begin flights to Oklahoma City from its primary hub in Phoenix.

Will Our Passports Make Us Terrorism Targets?
Bill Scannell, the man who almost single-handedly killed the invasive and flawed CAPPS II passenger-screening program, is back on the Internet with a new cause: Opposition to the State Department's bizarre plans to put tracking chips in our passports. As Scannell's Web Site, RFID Kills, so convincingly argues, radio chips in our passports will make Americans targets for any terrorists with an easily and cheaply obtained tracking device. Travelers have until Monday, April 4, to comment on the State Department's plans. You can post your dissent with the State Department directly from Scannell's excellent site.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Hertz renters in Europe take note: Effective Monday, the grace period for rental returns has been cut to 29 minutes. Hertz will also try to convince you to accept a 2.5 percent foreign-currency levy in lieu of the charge imposed by your credit card. Hertz claims that you can't be charged both, but be alert. The simple solution: decline the Hertz-imposed fee. Lufthansa has agreed to take over Swiss International, the carrier that the Swiss government launched in 2002 to replace defunct Swissair. Although details of the 300 million deal are still a bit vague, it appears that Swiss will retain its separate identity and its hub in Zurich. VASP, the Brazilian airline that has struggled with a series of financial crises over the last decade, has finally closed. Worldwide big mouth Richard Branson, who has been claiming for at least six years that he was on the verge of launching a U.S.-based airline, has lost control of his Australian low-fare carrier. Virgin Blue has been taken over by the Patrick Corp., the Australian firm that had been providing most of the operating capital for the airline.

Copyright 1993-2005 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.