THE TACTICAL TRAVELER FOR 2011

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 22 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The ghost of airline computer meltdowns yet to come. US Airways and Air Canada juggle frequent flyer fees and perks. Delta's two-hub, 12-mile New York strategy. British Airways gets BMI from Lufthansa and now the fun begins. Another burst of hotel openings in China. American grounds American Eagle's turboprops. And to all a good night ...

December 15 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Delta shifts to less Europe flying, more Latin America service. Not a guest? Hyatt still wants your dining dollars and will give you points. Chase extends Ultimate Rewards to Southwest. Bankrupt American's $30 million London "home." Airlines keep trying--and failing--to hike fares. Hertz rents Maseratis and Ferraris in England. Someone please check the hotel bar for Whitey; and more.

December 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: How fast can American jump into the arms of British Airways? JetBlue adds a Boston-DFW route. Just in time: Hotel chains add warm-weather resorts. Philadelphia pays big as Southwest downsizes. Hilton forced to discount its new 'Premium' awards. American code-shares on OpenSkies' Newark-Paris route. Going to Mexico? So are Southwest and AirTran; and more.

December 1 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: JetBlue and WestJet buy their way into New York/LGA. What you need to know about the American bankruptcy. Meet the new hotels, same as the old hotels. Now United, UA and CO start swapping routes. Airlines want to delay the new baggage rules. Terminal C at Orange County is open. JoeSentMe.com is now BradPittforBusinessTravel.Com; and much more.

November 17 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Southwest plans an overhaul of AirTran routes. More Marriotts, more Hiltons and more hotels are opening. BA's new award chart giveth a little and taketh away a lot. There’s a bit more transcon comfort on Delta flights. American will code-share with Air Pacific of Fiji. Three more "local joints" debut at the airport. TSA waste and the high cost of demagoguery; and more.

November 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The beginning of the end game at Frontier Airlines. Exiting LGA, US Airways plans a new Phoenix flight. Courtyard by Marriott Is like staying in Siberia. American and Alaska Air flyers get reciprocal perks. Marriott Rewards gets 80 more hotels in Europe. United and Continental juggle international routes. Duh! Airline CEO prefers to fly in his first class.

November 3 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Airfares won't rise because you're not flying. Hyatt adds hotels in Vietnam and Abu Dhabi. Hertz and National battle for elite renters. WiFi and sunglasses and fishy airport spas, oh my! Rally round the hotel flag, boys. But which flag? Starwood opens an Aloft in London's Docklands. And more.

October 27 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Delta adds premium economy seats to its entire fleet; an $800 strategy for global airport-club access; Air France workers launch a strike this weekend. AA offers curbside check-in for its overseas flights. Chase Ultimate Rewards points can now transfer to United MileagePlus. Expect delays on Amtrak service between New York and Boston. Flooding to reach central Bangkok this weekend. And much more.

October 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Hilton's big devaluation comes with obfuscation, too. Porter flies to Vermont, Frontier tries Washington. Qantas service Down Under goes down under. AAdvantage flyers can now burn miles on Etihad. British Airways adds bronze entry-level elite tier. Hyatt opens its fourth hotel in Shanghai. Domestic airlines raising fares $4-$10 roundtrip; and more.

October 13 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Has Hilton devalued HHonors with a new perk? How much is that liquor on Delta's top shelf? Dollar Thrifty spurns Hertz and goes it alone. First BlackBerry and now Apple have glitches. American AAdvantage adds AirBerlin as a partner. All United Clubs now accept the standard Priority Pass. Downtown St. Louis gets an Embassy Suites hotel; and more.

October 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Is this the end of BA's OpenSkies? Marriott is adding hotels in bunches overseas. How to launder Amex points to Continental now. A record year (already) for flight cancellations. Even more hotel mergers, reflaggings and openings. How to get Accor A-Club Platinum status for free. No, your AAdvantage miles are not at risk.

September 29 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Hilton pays a Mint to bulk up in Britain; Frontier makes another big cut in Milwaukee; free stays now count toward elite status at Starwood; a Hampton Inn for Miami's high-end hotel ghetto; Emirates will fly to Dubai from Seattle and DFW; Southwest removes an actress from a flight; a three-month jail term in London for a drunk flyer; and more.

September 22 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Lowest-level elites lose in United's new MileagePlus. Hyatt goes back to the future with "Hyatt House." The TSA cans dozens of screeners in Honolulu. The Delta and V Australia code-share begins on Nov. 6. American and Diners Club end their points transfer deal. Air Canada averts a strike, but Qantas doesn't. Avis says it's out of the battle for Dollar Thrifty; and more.

September 15 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The clock ticks on the Delta-Amex-Continental-Chase transfer puzzle. A big Silicon Valley hotel is changing names (twice). Bet you didn't expect these new international routes. Orange County's building nightmare (almost) over. Google's new flight search engine has a big flaw. Another politics-inspired FAA shutdown is averted. Was Swissair 111 crash caused by explosives? and more.

September 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: A hotel war in Waikiki. Southwest is really serious about its Atlanta flights. Hyatt Gold Passport picks up 21 more properties. US Airways drives the final stake into its Las Vegas hub. The new Sheraton and Four Points reflaggings are odd. Cathay Pacific will add Premium Economy cabins. Ten years later: 9/11 as it happened on TV. And more.

August 26 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: United p.s. service: less P(remium), more S(eats); American makes changes (all bad) to AAdvantage; Southwest will bring its own planes to Atlanta; TSA's Trusted Traveler won't trust you much; Frontier will try two new cities from Denver; Heathrow's secret Windsor Suite Is now open; and more.

August 18 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Know that fall flight you booked? Better check again. Another burst of Fairfield Inns from Marriott. DoubleTree and Courtyard hotels open in India. London gets a "new" regional airport called Southend. Qantas shifts to Asia and downgrades Australia. Flyer wins right to sue frequent flyer plan; AirTran will fly from BWI to Aruba on weekends; and more.

August 11 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The busiest airline Web site? Southwest.com; Hyatt Hotels opens still another India property; SkyMiles bans flight changes on award travel within three days of departure; Of course airport luggage scales aren't accurate; United juggles its fleet on some transpacific routes; Hertz replaces the #1 Frequent Renter Plan; American throws some rewards to elite flyers; and more.

August 4 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: What is your name? What is your quest? What is the TSA thinking?; AirTran dumps four cities from its new schedule; A raft of new and reflagged hotels; the FAA's short-term extension gets short extension; a Diet Coke code for free WiFi on Delta flights; Air India won't join the Star Alliance after all; Airlines suck. Business travel stinks. The 1946 edition; and more.

July 28 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: US Airways beats Southwest in Philadelphia; Hyatt Gold Passport giveth (to Diamonds) and taketh (from its award chart); the IRS says you should get a travel-tax refund; JetBlue expands while Southwest redraws its route map; United SWUs now valid on Continental flights; Delta and US Airways get their DCA-LGA slot swap; and much more.

July 21 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: How the chief bean counter is killing American Airlines; MileagePlus loses the space--and several perks; Hyatt gobbles up the Sierra and Avia hotel chains; phantom trusted travelers and stick-figure flyers; Marriott's Autograph brand adds more Europe hotels; Alaska Airlines plans a San Diego-Honolulu route; Lufthansa now sells connecting train tickets; and more.

July 7 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The TSA'S biggest critic is even worse than the TSA; Hilton pulls its name off Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos; a big new Lufthansa lounge opens in Frankfurt; Marriott opens in Ankara, Turkey, and Jaipur, India; Hyatt Place opens near the Hamptons in New York; terrorists apparently have Star Trek technology; a traffic "nightmare" awaits LAX next weekend; and more.

June 30 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: A bad week for global flight disruptions; falling glass closes W Hotel in Austin; a hotel boomlet for Elvis' Hometown of Tupelo; JetBlue adds more service in the Caribbean; Southwest ends commuter flights in Milwaukee; Delta upgrades Business Class on some jets; Beijing-Shanghai high-speed train opens; and more.

June 23 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: And now for the Virgin Atlantic strike watch; Avis buys Avis, so maybe Hertz gets Dollar Thrifty; ashes to ashes in Australia, New Zealand and Africa; Dodging bullets when airline computers collapse; New airline links Chicago and northern Michigan; British Airways will serve English sparkling wine; Eighty days living at an airport … by choice; and more.

June 16 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The end game begins at mashed-up Frontier; The short, strange strike at Air Canada is over; Marriott opens a raft of new hotels nationwide; Air France strike may hit transatlantic flights; Meanwhile, back under the volcanic ash cloud; American Airlines will use tablet PCs on some flights; W opens a hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia; and more.

June 9 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: United won't harmonize its international fleets; Got a Visa Signature card? You get Hilton status; Delta continues slashing flights at Memphis hub; United returns to its zone boarding procedure; Boston/Logan finally gets a nonstop flight to Asia; Yotel opens in Times Square, Brooklyn gets Aloft; Qantas' Dallas/Fort Worth service hits a snag; and more.

May 26 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Delta and US Airways try again on the LGA-DCA swap. Spirit Airlines limps onto the NASDAQ market. Would you stay at a chain called 'Public Hotel'? Alaska Air extends its club hours in four cities. JetBlue Airways will fly to Anchorage from Long Beach. Continental dumps double miles on shopping. National Car opens Emerald Aisle in Jacksonville.

May 19 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: United's nasty row about its boarding rows; Hyatt adds Summerfield Suites in California; Hilton opens two new hotels in New Zealand; BA cabin-crew dispute ends with a whimper; Lufthansa cuts bag allowance for transatlantic coach flyers; American adds more WiFi on domestic fleet; Delta will revamp restaurant options at MSP; and more.

May 12 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Frontier Airlines, the amazing shrinking carrier; welcome to the airport, the land of $9 gas; another mess of hotel openings; National's Emerald Club adds Enterprise; Marriott Rewards offers free Internet in Asia; the battle lines harden on routes Down Under; private lounges open in BWI and RDU; Southwest will convert AirTran to one class; and more.

April 28 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Mid-market hotel brands are coming to India; Anchorage loses its last international flight; Delta changes its mind on European service ... again; the dollar plunges against global currencies; Air Canada devalues the Aeroplan award chart; the legacy carriers push through a $10 fare increase; the Greenbrier will auction off some cool junk; and more.

April 14 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Another fare increase fails as capacity rises fast; déjà vu all over again for sleeping air controllers; update your hotel scorecard with these newbies; US Airways adds a "first class" to its regional jets; battle lines shift in the online travel world; United reinstates the $75 fee for last-minute award redemptions; a Frankfurt Airport lounge gets a new name; and more.

April 1 Briefing for Business Travelers
So much for the Helmsley hotel empire; Lufthansa bets on a smaller, classier first class; Enterprise pulls car-rental brands from Orbitz; Chase drops forex fees on Marriott Premier Card; Ritz-Carlton opens in Hong Kong's tallest building; American, BA coordinate London flight schedules; no fare increase for now, but oil prices surge; and more.

March 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Changes coming fast at United and Continental; Delta will cut 25 percent of its Memphis flights; slowly they turn … hotel by hotel; Air Canada drops four transborder routes; Alaska Airlines bails on two California cities; major carriers try for another fare increase; who was asleep at the wheel at Washington/National?; and more.

March 17 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Miami is a hot new hub to Europe; Hilton's Home2Suites opens its first properties; another burst of new flights to Mexican cities; a gothic palace, a rat pack den and two resorts; United offers paperless boarding on more flights; Continental launches a Newark-Stuttgart route; Don't be praying on my aircraft…again; and more.

March 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: United and Continental now allow mileage swaps. Air Canada finally gets its Toronto/City flights. Marriott opens side-by-side hotels near Washington. Southwest's on-time performance falls. Marriott and Starwood realign hotel award levels. Continental eliminates free snacks in coach. Five airlines slash their 2011 growth plans. And much more.

March 3 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: American, Southwest and Delta are flummoxed by their frequent flyer flubs; JetBlue and WestJet find new frenemies; the globalization of American lodging chains; Frontier tries five new routes from its hubs; American juggles its airport club network; Continental and Egyptair dump Cairo service; Delhi finally gets a high-speed airport link; a travel columnist through the looking glass; and more.

February 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: No fuel surcharges yet, but another $20 fare bump; Virgin America finally makes it to Chicago/O'Hare; AirTran adds more routes from Branson, Missouri; That's one big emerging hotel market in India; Customs and Immigration does pre-clearance in Dublin; Four Seasons reopens its London hotel in Park Lane; America's fastest-growing airport? Grand Rapids; and more.

February 17 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Rally 'round the hotel (re)flaggings, boys; Delta eliminates SkyMiles expiration dates; W Hotels open in London and Taipei; Carlson kills Gold Points Plus for Club Carlson; Chase drops the forex fees on a Mileage Plus card; Hawaiian Airlines expands its Asia-Pacific service; Rick Bayless opens a restaurant at O'Hare; denied-boarding rates fall below 1 in 10,000; and more.

February 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Delta raises the bar on premium-class travel; everywhere you go, a new Courtyard by Marriott; another airline-killing move from Frontier bosses; the big airlines oppose an expansion of O'Hare; JetBlue adding more flights at Boston/Logan; So long, Red Carpet Club. Hello, United Club; Priority Pass adds more clubs at global hubs; and more.

January 27 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Hyatt plants its brands in several new places; Lufthansa puts A380s on the SFO-Frankfurt route; Delta revamping the Sky Clubs in major airports; cost of the United-Continental merger: $493 million so far; British Airline cabin crews vote to strike ... again; the color-coded Terror Alert System goes dark; Is that an Eskimo on your tail or are you just changing brands?; and more.

January 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: American and Oneworld play catch up in the Pacific; seven new airport lounges for Priority Pass; hoteliers move pieces around global chess board; Korean Air will fly A380s from New York and LAX; Continental Airlines will launch a route to Haiti; a new firm claims to offer $20 door-to-door transfer service at LAX; more airlines shift terminals at Raleigh-Durham; Value checked bags? Don't Fly American Eagle; and more.

January 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The new Rapid Rewards is all about the money; new hotels are off on the road to … wherever; Southwest gears up to fly to Hawaii and Mexico; Singapore Air will add A380 to LAX-Tokyo run; Continental will put lie-flat beds on Boeing 767s; weird but true: the "hijacker" drank coffee; weirder but also true: take this plane to Oslo; and more.

These columns originally appeared at JoeSentMe.com.

Copyright © 1993-2011 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.