THE TACTICAL TRAVELER FOR 2009

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TACTICAL TRAVELER
Joe Brancatelli created Tactical Traveler in 1998 for the now-defunct biztravel.com. The weekly column was conceived as a series of items that would make frequent business travelers more productive on the road. There was also a heaping helping of Joe's trademark skepticism about the travel industry and its practices. After the 9/11 terrorism attacks, however, Joe recreated Tactical Traveler as the news and analysis column for JoeSentMe. There's still plenty of skepticism, of course, because life on the road makes us a wary lot.

December 27 Briefing for Business Travelers
Here are the salient portions of the Transportation Security Administration's security directive issued on Christmas Day after the terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. I've omitted the internal and housekeeping details that do not affect travelers; otherwise, this memo is verbatim.

December 17 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: BA plays kick-the-can with its big labor problem; about that botched Lufthansa ticket auction; the last burst of hotel openings for the year; shuffled terminals at Washington/National airport; Delta and Singapore Air cut frequent flyer program ties; United adds commuter service in smaller markets; McDonald's switches to free WiFi next month.

December 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Continental creates a super-duper elite level; Virgin Atlantic slashes the upstairs Snooze Zone; Westin, Hilton and Marriott open new hotels in India; a 5-Room microhotel debuts at Atlanta Hartsfield; US Airways adds service from Charlotte to Rome; Air Canada adds cities in Labrador and Nunavut; do you really care about an old TSA manual?; and much more.

December 3 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The Continental/United upgrade order game; if less is more, more hotels must be insane; back to the future at London's Paddington station; brutal times for the dollar on currency markets; Cincinnati is Delta's odd airport out; Air France adds Airbus A380 flights on Paris-New York; Air Canada adds a fee for second checked bags on international flights; and much more.

November 19 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: If at first an airfare surcharge succeeds, then pile on; anyone care if US Air devalues Dividend Miles?; Iron Chef Morimoto designs "Skewers" for airports; a whole bunch of new hotels you need to know; a whole bunch of airport news you need to know; a series of strikes is planned at Iberia; free in-flight WiFi on Delta; and much more.

November 5 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: This is why we hate the airlines, part 6,297; JetBlue and AirTran expand again; still more fallout from the lodging crisis; SkyTeam adds facilities at Heathrow Terminal 4; three Midwest cities are back on the route map; Amtrak loses $32 a rider, but Acela makes money; another slew of amazing tales of United Airlines; and much more.

October 29 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Still a few glitches in the Continental-Star system; US Airways says let's get small--again; say goodbye to Kennedy Airport's "Death Hotel"; more hotels continue gilding the dead lily; the FAA revokes the license of those two Northwest pilots; airlines shift terminals in Hong Kong and Helsinki; Boingo now works with some Blackberry devices; and more.

October 23 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Will Hilton up reward prices during hotel slump?; Southwest doubles down in Denver and St. Louis; US Airways makes Star-friendly changes to its club fees; Virgin America and Google make in-flight WiFi free; four Arkansas cities are back on the route map; the TSA's passenger redress program doesn't work; more bad news on the currency exchange front; and more.

October 15 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Why you may be changing hotels next year; United now gives unlimited upgrades to a few; Lufthansa takes another run at in-flight Internet; More hotels? Of course. You know the story; the FAA whacks United, US Airways with big safety fines; Hilton opens 2,000 new rooms in Orlando; Mokulele gives up the ghost in Hawaii; and more.

October 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The right price for Aircell's in-flight WiFi? Free.; "Q" fares can now be upgraded with AAdvantage miles; airlines are suddenly adding flights to Hawaii; Hyatt (and some old names) returns to Tsim Tsa Tsui in Hong Kong; more days for the $10 "holiday-travel" surcharge; Hilton reflags the hotel at Kentucky's Rupp Arena; light loads and fast stops for BA's LCY-JFK flights; and more.

October 1 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Brazil's war on the truth and Joe Sharkey; still another blizzard of new hotels; is this the end of Midwest Airlines?; not a great week to be British Airways; a freebie for Diamond Gold Passport members; US Helicopter Stops flying; the Big Six invent a new fare surcharge; and much more.

September 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Delta's don't ask, don't tell policy on Northwest changes; a blizzard of new hotels open around the world; a new level just for security checkpoints at Dulles Airport; American, United, Southwest shuffle hub routes; Atlanta's consolidated rental facility opens November 10; Amex raises fee for converting points to miles; downtown Tulsa hotel reopens after 30 years; and more.

September 17 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Some roomier seats in these gloomier times; American Airlines sticks a fork in two dead hubs; Southwest Airlines ramps it up at Denver again; Priority Club adds free flights to its reward chart; AirTran builds in Milwaukee, BWI and the Caribbean; Spirit Airlines fined for serial passenger abuses; San Jose loses as JetBlue flips transcon routes; and more.

September 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Continental morphs its OnePass program to sync with the Star Alliance; airlines add sun and snow destinations for winter; three "liquid bomb" plotters convicted in Britain; yes, Virginia, they keep opening new hotels; United and Frontier raise baggage fees again; Avis and Budget ban smoking in their rental cars; Vancouver airport gets a downtown rail link; and more.

August 27 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The boobs at the boarding gate raise bag fees again; a week without (too many) new hotels; Continental rejiggers routes for Star Alliance; federal lodging per diems won't change in 2010; Delta changes business classes on major routes; ready for coconut lime verbena bath amenities?; Surprise! low-fare carriers pay more for labor; and much more.

August 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The hotel industry is in freefall now; meanwhile, new hotels keep opening; US Air retreats in New York, but holds on in Philadelphia; the Global Entry program expands to 20 major airports; Hertz tests photographic scans of rental cars; Delta dumps that wacky Salt Lake-Tokyo route; an outrage atop a crime at a Connecticut Marriott; and more.

August 13 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Four airlines swap slots and remake the East Coast route map; Republic beats Southwest in the bidding for bankrupt Frontier; JetBlue and Virgin America go after California-Florida routes; TSA's Secure Flight starts Saturday (sort of...); China executes the boss of Beijing's new airport; DOT says stimulus funds wasted at some airports; Amex Rewards points can transfer to BA's Executive Club; and more.

August 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: At-the-gate upgrades are back; Is that a development pipeline or are hotels just happy to see you?; BA will charge to check a second bag; JetBlue's new revenue-based frequency program; three gimmicky new credit cards from United; US Airways slaps its code on ANA flights to Tokyo; Holiday Inn goes back to the past in Memphis; and much more.

July 30 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: American raises bag fees again--and lies about it; falling sales mean more international route cuts; no one wants the old Watergate Hotel; Southwest will bid for bankrupt Frontier Airlines; Bank of America will occupy half of Charlotte's new Ritz-Carlton; US Airways will install in-flight WiFi--next year; one airline is still opening city ticket offices; and more.

July 23 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The last three airport RT locations close; United drops more international flights; airlines lose tons in 2Q, slap new fees on us; Turnberry Golf Resort reopens in Scotland; San Jose Terminal B opens its first five gates; shuttle-bus collision kills one at Newark Airport; Canada's Via Rail girds for a strike; and much more.

July 16 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: How do you spell business-travel disaster?; Delta gets fined for mishandling the bumps; DOT approves Continental for the Star Alliance; American and Etihad code-share to Abu Dhabi; Aircell creates 24-Hour pass for in-flight WiFi; Continental has JetBlue's LiveTV on 15 aircraft; Southwest Airlines proves Goldfinger wrong; and much more.

July 9 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Just another cash crunch at United Airlines; the routes are dropping like flies now; hotels continue to open at a breathtaking pace; strange bedfellows on the airline alliance front; Delta pulls its airport clubs out of Priority Pass; San Francisco-Kansas City nonstop...in a regional jet; a TSA agent arrested for skipping the security checkpoint; and much more.

July 2 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The Justice Department hates the Continental-Star Alliance deal: get your hotel scorecard out; Surprise! Frontier and Midwest will code-share; BA proceeds With London/City-Kennedy flights, but Virgin America drops its Chicago/O'Hare route; Delta's one-mile international upgrade "deal"; United Airlines melts down in Chicago. Again.

June 25 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The new big name in small airlines is Republic; back in Milwaukee, Southwest makes its move; Lufthansa's plans to dominate Europe advance; in San Jose, American flees, Alaska Air moves in; American drops 18 more flights from St. Louis; US Airways adds a Charlotte-Honolulu nonstop; the inventor of Magic Fingers bed dies at 92; and much more.

June 18 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Ticket ch-ch-ch-changes...good and bad; Where have all the Cincinnati flyers gone?; Extended Stay Hotels goes bust, big time; Aer Lingus will end three U.S. routes; American Airlines kills the San Jose-Austin Nerd Bird; international premium-class traffic keeps falling; United Airlines delays co-pays for Mileage Plus upgrades; and much more.

June 11 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Here come the cuts in international service; mother of mercy, is this the end of Midwest Airlines?; more and more and more and more hotels open; US Airways is giving something away. Seriously.; shoe bomber Richard Reed is on a hunger strike; Barcelona's new terminal opens next week; maybe the "W" in W Hotels means "Walk Away"; and much more.

June 4 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: More charges for comfy coach across the Pacific; Hotel crisis? What crisis? More hotels opening; Delta rescinds some of its new baggage charges; Southwest goes to the dogs--and cats. Literally.; SkyTeam opens a lounge at Heathrow's T4; Pittsburgh finally gets a nonstop flight to Europe; A bar named Sammy Hagar at Las Vegas/McCarran; and much more.

May 21 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Southwest Airlines will fly From Milwaukee, too; absolutely, positively the end of Adam's Mark hotels; British Airways will launch flights from Las Vegas; Second Bag: $25. One-Week Delivery: Priceless.; worst for bumping? the commuter carriers for Delta and American; LaGuardia, Philadelphia now have $5 meals; why is this hotel room an old airplane?; and much more.

May 14 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The TSA Secure Flight program begins; oil prices spike again and fuel surcharges return; AirTran jumps blindly into in-flight WiFi; United raises checked-bag fees again; the dollar is sliding against foreign currencies; American AAdvantage adds one-way awards; Four Seasons loses a resort in the Bahamas and fights to save its San Diego property; there's plenty of blame to go around for February's crash in Buffalo; and much more.

May 7 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The cost of Internet on the road comes down; U.S. and Canadian carriers slash Mexico flights; Alaska Airlines adds more West Coast-Hawaii service; Delta and Amex lose the Northwest credit-card battle; Southwest's legendarily bad in-flight coffee may finally improve; Make them stop opening hotels. Please.; Avis Europe adds a huge no-show fee; and much more.

May 1 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Everybody's got an opinion on the swine flu; Omni upgrades Select Guest Plan with elite perks; the Last Tango in Paris gives way to a new hotel; airlines launch niche flights to select airports; no new in-flight entertainment system for US Airways; travel to Israel plummeted in the first quarter; and much more.

April 23 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Hilton folds Denizen after Starwood suit; so much for the privatization of Midway; a reluctant FAA will release bird-strike data; new hotels keep gushing from the pipeline; Northwest moves to Delta gates at two more airports; the SuperShuttle sets up shop in Pittsburgh; Flown overseas lately? So you're the one!; and much more.

April 16 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Southwest rolls out plans for Boston/Logan; Hyatt enhances the benefits for top-level elites; InterContinental comps Internet for some guests; AirTran builds up in Orlando; American and Southwest kick off a dreary 1Q reporting period; United gets bad PR even for a "me, too" policy; a hotel guest swipes two TVs and a coffeemaker; and much more.

April 9 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Southwest decides it can make it in New York; the worldwide hotel glut continues to grow; Las Vegas gets a new route, Hartford loses one; recession be damned, more flights worldwide; American will expand in-flight internet service; and much more.

March 26 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Air France adds a premium economy cabin; yes, Virginia, the hotel industry is suicidal; AirTran adds Atlantic City to its route map; United drops another perk and finds another fee; Northwest shifting to Delta airport locations; Virgin America adds a fee for first checked bag; and much more.

March 12 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Is Virgin America really an American airline?; Delta Air Lines will slash its international route network; American Airlines bails on Dallas/Love Field again; your scorecard for this week's hotel openings; Florida taxpayers pay to restore some intra-state service; US Airways goes from worst to (sort of) first to mediocre; the political bully and the airline blind eye; and much more.

March 5 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Lufthansa focuses on the airport lounge life; good news on loyalty plans from Starwood and Marriott; airport traffic falls through the floor in February; the Clear line-cut may not be long for the world; Delta scraps Crown Room and Worldclub names; got time to read about Daylight Saving Time?; Palmdale Airport, we hardly knew ye; and much more.

February 26 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The trendy destination this year? Tel Aviv; US Airways continues the Big Shrink at Las Vegas; the wages of hubris at the W Hotel in Scottsdale; Aeromexico adds more cities north of the border; Key West airport gets a new passenger terminal; Alaska Airlines is testing in-flight WiFi; Ring-a-Ding-Ding! Sinatra's Cal Neva goes under; and much more.

February 19 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Premium-class plummet reaches the Pacific; Delta decides to bulk up in Salt Lake City; Southwest fills another gap: Boston/Logan; just what we needed: more new hotels; Sirius XM skirts bankruptcy--and raises rates; another trial for 2006 transatlantic "plotters"; and much more.

February 12 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The bargain trail hits a bump in the road; AirTran challenges Midwest in Milwaukee; Hate United? They won't take your call; the twisted tale of a hotel name change; Hilton HHonors and Amex have a new card; Atlantic City casinos bet on a train ride; January airline sales fall by 25 percent; and much more.

February 5 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Continental Airlines' transition to the Star Alliance remains unclear; Delta and Northwest link frequent flyer programs; Shangri-La offers free Internet at all hotels; Hilton picks up more warm-weather resorts; the Greek tragedy that is Olympic Airlines; US Airways will charge for blankets, too; and much more.

January 29 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The hotel outlook is gruesome and getting much worse, but new properties keep opening; JetBlue takes another run at flights from LAX; Air Jamaica is shrinking (for the millionth time); United raises Red Carpet Club membership fees; Virgin America adds John Wayne/Orange County flights; and much more.

January 15 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Today's hero is Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger; still more hotels gush from the development pipeline; Greenpeace makes a real estate move to stop a third Heathrow runway; Lufthansa opens tri-level, $10 million lounge at JFK; flying in Africa, always difficult, gets harder; Delta cancels some international routes; Southwest grows again in the California Corridor; and much more.

January 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The Qantas-United Australia duopoly will end; Starwood loses four hotels in Pacific island paradises; Northwest WorldPerks adds Delta SkyMiles' fees; Raleigh-Durham gets SuperShuttle service; Frontier "invents" three classes of coach fares; Continental's new alphabet soup of fare classes; and much more.

These columns originally appeared at JoeSentMe.com.

Copyright 1993-2009 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.