The Tactical Traveler for 2014
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT TACTICAL TRAVELER
Joe Brancatelli created The Tactical Traveler in 1998 for the now-defunct Biztravel.com. The 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 18 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Hotel rates plunge for the next few weeks. It's Alaska and American versus Delta and United in the frequency game. EVA Air and Air Canada add Texas flights. Swanky new airport clubs open in Sydney and Los Angeles. Memphis and Cleveland lose more flights. And much more.

December 11 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The airlines roll in cash thanks to plunging fuel prices. New ways to stick with the Star Alliance for international travel while avoiding United Airlines. Good frequent travel program news from Delta, Amex, Hyatt and more. Delta juggles cabin names, but changes little. Another Velcro hotel to note. And much more.

December 4 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: More miles and points news for 2015. More love for the Philadelphia-London run. Hawaiian and KLM pack in the seats. Alaska Air will charge for exit-row seating. There's a raft of new limited-service Hilton hotels. David Neeleman's Azul Airways launches U.S. routes. And much more.

November 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: JetBlue sells its soul and sells us out. Delta and United find more things to devalue; Starwood loses notable hotels in London and Lauderdale. A new burst of Marriotts worldwide. Delta bulks up (again) in Seattle. Chase opens pop-up Christmas lounges for United cardholders. Eurostar to be hit by strikes in the weeks ahead. And much more.

November 13 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: What passes for "victory" now in the coach seat wars. United mimics Delta again. Lufthansa adds a nonstop Tampa-Frankfurt route. Alaska Airlines returns to Dulles. United dumps Atlantic City flights after eight months. Major hotel changes Down Under. Don't mention the war. And much more.

November 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: New British nonstops that don't involve London. Amex opens a Centurion Lounge at SFO. JetBlue adds an international terminal extension at JFK. Keyless hotel room entry is creeping toward virtual reality. Aer Lingus will link Dulles and Dublin. The dollar is booming against the euro, yen and ruble. And much more.

October 30 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: American kicks the can on AAdvantage-Dividend Miles integration. Four hundred Hampton Inns are headed to China. WestJet wants to steal some Air Canada elites. All Marriott Rewards members will get free WiFi. A ten-year journey to a new hotel in Manhattan's financial district. And much more.

October 23 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Airlines juggle transatlantic routes. United Airlines and Chase cut a MileagePlus deal with Hertz. Do you have Carolina in your mind or on your itinerary? Air Canada devalues Altitude again. We like great airport food--if it's close and fast. The Six Percent Ebola Solution. And much more.

October 16 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The only thing we have to fear is travelers who fear Ebola. Hilton creates a hotel brand named after Walmart crockery. United ups the perks for super-elite flyers at San Francisco. Blackpool Airport in Northwest England closes. Pistole quits as TSA boss and the nation yawns. Trains will link Frankfurt and Vienna airports to each other. Marriott opens another hotel in Silicon Valley. And much more.

October 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Think Chicago/O'Hare is bad now? Just wait until United and American get through with it. Delta's not sure you're elite enough for SkyMiles elite status. Lufthansa's long journey to fewer first-class seats. Hyatt plays catch-up in the hotel numbers game. American decides it wants to play in Atlanta. Marriott offers portable charging in lobbies. Another small sign the Northeast Shuttle is dying. And much more.

October 2 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Delta and American Express devalue partnership. American adds new domestic routes from Miami. Air Canada will bulk up its international network. JetBlue and Virgin America get into a route war. More independent hotels join Marriott's Autograph Collection. American wants to add a DFW-Beijing nonstop. Three new chain properties open in Columbus. And much more.

September 25 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Get ready for the big winter capacity pulldown. American Airlines dumps El Al frequent flyer partnership. Southwest gets five new gates at Denver Airport. Just what we needed: More hotels in Atlanta. WiFi is now (mostly) free at Houston's airports. A must to avoid: United Flight 125 from Berlin. And much more.

September 18 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Back to the future (in business class) on Icelandair. Southwest launches Costa Rica flight next year. Japan Airlines launching an LAX-Kansai route. United will revamp the dining and retail operations at its Newark hub. Lots more limited-service hotels nationwide. WestJet and Air Canada add a $25 domestic bag fee. A new Mexico route for Houston. And much more.

September 11 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Southwest Airlines tries painting over its big problems. United Airlines will drop its international first class. Burning hotel points? Note these key changes. Hertz dumps its CEO, but the aging cars remain. British Airways is upgrading its 747 premium-economy seats. The dollar firms up against global currencies. Warning! Air France will be on strike next week. And much more.

September 4 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: No hubs for you! Ohio loses all of them. The Westin Diplomat in Florida dumps Starwood. Virgin Atlantic and Delta shake up their transatlantic flights. Frontier is bailing on flights from Wilmington, Delaware. Hilton opens another crop of new hotels. The dollar hits a 14-month high against the Euro. Southwest drops Atlanta-Caribbean routes. And much more.

August 28 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Airlines love it when flyers turn on each other. Delta is adding international flights from Salt Lake City. Cathay Pacific goes East (Boston), Turkish heads West (San Francisco). Second-tier Chinese cities are getting Western hotels. A Marriott opens in an historic Cincinnati building. Air France pilots plan another five-day strike. Local food for Buffalonians at Buffalo Airport. And much more.

August 21 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Cathay Pacific talks about being the “world's best” airline. Iceland warns of new, flight-killing volcano eruptions. Planes, trains and Korean burgers at the airport. Hyatt adds two more properties in New York City. Two Holiday Inn Express hotels open in Atlanta. United makes minor upgrades in first-class food. Dallas/Fort Worth now has a mass-transit link. And much more.

August 14 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: First class is less expensive on Alaska Airlines. Airport lounges keep improving and expanding. More Hawaii--and less--using miles and points. Hilton is growing fastest by getting smaller. Hyatt is getting a new (old) hotel near LAX. Delta finds some more flights to cut at Memphis. Gogo's in-flight WiFi take? 75 cents a flyer. And much more.

August 7 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Airlines increase delays to increase profits. Southwest adds Bay Area nonstops from Dallas/Love Field. Big changes in Chicago's lodging landscape. American Airlines trims some domestic first-class meal service. Frontier guts elite levels of its frequent flyer plan. Marriott opens still more limited-service hotels. Delta dumps duty free on international flights. And much more.

July 31 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The big business-travel spenders are now from China. United bails on Topeka, leaving the Kansas capital grounded. American juggles its Brazil routes, cuts Charlotte and adds Viracopas. Delta Air Lines dumps two intra-Asia routes. Hilton and Delta make high-tech announcements of questionable value. The perks change at Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Two more local restaurants for Phoenix Airport. And much more.

July 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The Saddest, giddiest week in travel history. Why you shouldn't keep company with La Compagnie, a new carrier flying between New York and France. Virgin Australia drops its LAX-Melbourne route. Hilton grabs a prime London hotel from InterContinental. For better or worse, JFK gets a New York diner. Hotel Rwanda in Kigali becomes a Kempinski. Your travel-security taxes jumped this week. And much more.

July 17 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: JetBlue's new business class is "pretty much sold out." Lost in translation: Airlines cut flights to Narita. A Hampton Inn grows in (hipster) Brooklyn. Frankfurt adds free WiFi, but the beer's in Honolulu. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner still isn't reliable enough. Kimpton remakes and renames its frequent-guest plan. Delta will end its flights to Monrovia, Liberia. And much more.

July 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The year 2014 so far: Worst. Flying. Ever. (Almost.) Loews Hotels makes another run at bulking up. Need to fly to Caracas, Venezuela? Lotsa luck. United drops its Newark-Stuttgart route. A few good, new places to burn hotel points. First Hyatt Place opens in District of Columbia. How convoluted can big airlines make flying? And much more.

June 26 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: How airlines subvert revenue-based frequent-travel programs. A Starbucks finally arrives at Philadelphia Airport. Qantas and Air Canada open new airport lounges. Ever heard of the Chinese hotel chain called Marriott? Customs kiosks installed at Newark Terminal C. Delta quietly backs off its no-upgrades policy on transcon flights. British Airways dumps first class on three American routes. And much more.

June 19 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Believe it or not, aircraft seating gets even worse. United will fly from Houston to Santiago, Chile. Marriott opens a second property in Siberia. American bulks up at LAX with four routes. Airspace opens a public lounge inside San Diego airport. Very hard hotel times in California's Inland Empire. Hawaiian adds routes that bypass Honolulu. And much more.

June 12 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Monkey see, United do: MileagePlus mimics Delta SkyMiles. Good news and bad on the American-US Airways merger. Hyatt opens an Andaz in Tokyo. United opens another club at its San Francisco hub. Uber runs into trouble in California and Europe. Enterprise is the new Number 2 at the airports. Hilton opens another Garden Inn in Manhattan. And much more.

June 5 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Delta throws a bone to some Economy Comfort flyers. Newfoundland gets back its flights to London (England, not Ontario). Modesto, California, falls off the route map. Atlanta and Nashville airports finally get free WiFi. Amex Platinum Cardholders: Claim your Boingo. Hilton's new brand imitates Marriott's Autograph Collection. Southwest fined $200,000 for nonexistent fares. And much more.

May 29 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: United Airlines starts shrinking its route map. Just in time for summer, major chains add hotels around the world. JetBlue will start its first intra-Florida route. The Delta-Alaska Air battle for Seattle heats up again. Hampton Inn, the limited-service hotel behemoth. Air Canada moves to Heathrow T2 on June 18. Canada okays gate-to-gate use of electronics. And more.

May 22 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Southwest's no-planes-needed expansion means massive shifts on the route map. Why you should join Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer frequent-flyer program even if you don't frequently fly Singapore. JetBlue continues to expand at Fort Lauderdale. Seaside cities on both coasts get new hotels. Premium economy gets two new global players: Lufthansa and Singapore Air. Delta and Virgin Atlantic swap some London routes in Los Angeles and Atlanta. A luxury bus service links Dallas and Austin. And much more.

May 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: First Class is dying, but it's leaving a good-looking corpse. American Express will open a Centurion Club in Miami. JetBlue adds flights from Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City. A 10-gate complex for American Eagle has opened at Dallas/Fort Worth. A clutch of limited-service hotels opens nationwide. Airlines add new routes to Europe, Latin America. American and US Airways are stitching together their networks. And much more.

May 1 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: There's never love lost at Dallas/Love Field. United finally gets a united terminal in Boston. TSA PreCheck now works on Air Canada flights. Decades in the making, the Marriott finally opens by Washington's convention center. Frontier Airlines now charging for carry-on bags. Who's betting on Smisek at United? Jeff Smisek. And much more.

April 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: What United has here is a failure to see failure. What Delta has here is a failure to tell the truth. No trains for you this spring, says Newark Airport. No trains for you next week, say London transport unions. Everywhere you look, more new hotels are opening. The dollar is falling against the pound and euro. Lufthansa is charging for coach seat assignments. And much more.

April 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Now do you believe that the AA-USAir merger will stink? Alaska adds two Seattle routes and drops four others. Terminal 5 at O'Hare finally gets its renovation. JetBlue drops five routes before its Washington/National expansion. Terminal 1 at Raleigh/Durham opens. Hilton HHonors can't even be transparent about being opaque. Yes, winter flying was as bad as you thought. Delta and Alaska in a double-miles war. And much more.

April 3 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: A few tremors as US Airways shifts to Oneworld. United drops still more routes from Cleveland. Delta shuffles terminals at London/Heathrow. Stick a pin in a globe and you'll new find hotels. SAS adds all-business-class route from Houston. Dubai slaps a tourism tax on hotel guests. Just wait until Justice Alito doesn't get his upgrade. And much more.

March 27 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Business travelers are now collateral damage in the Delta-Alaska battle for Seattle. Southwest expands fast at Washington/National. Half of SFO's runways will close in the spring and summer. Lufthansa will keep its Charlotte-Munich route. Delta rolls out Gogo WiFi on international runs. Virgin America ekes out its first annual profit. Welcome to New York City, you tourist jerks! And more.

March 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Why international business-class deals are disappearing. Another huge devaluation of Marriott Rewards. Virgin America is dumping its only San Jose route. Go! bails on Hawaii routes after a scandal-plagued run. Delta Air Lines bulks up again in Los Angeles. JetBlue Airways will match your elite status. Amex Platinum adds Boingo and PreCheck perks. And much more.

March 13 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Avoid United Airlines to London in June. JetBlue and American end the New York-Boston alliance. Of course it's time to dump your SkyMiles--and fast. Hawaiian Airlines returns to Lanai and Molokai. New limited-service hotels open worldwide. AAdvantage's Gold elite flyers lose an upgrade perk. Just 6.2 percent of flyers used Gogo last year. And much more.

March 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Lufthansa rolls out a very premium premium-economy class. Delta plays five-card monte with the award charts it finally released. American Airlines guts "Choice" fare offerings. JetBlue adds three more cities to Washington network. Israel's Dan Hotels offers guests free Internet. Hawaiian Airlines drops two routes to Asia. Wichita likes Ike and changes airport name. And much more.

February 27 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Can all-business-class flights find another life? When will Delta show us SkyMiles award charts? Everywhere you look, there are limited-service hotels. Emirates says it'll add flights to Chicago/O'Hare. Azerbaijan Airlines wants to fly New York-Baku. Big airlines add Canada, domestic fare hikes. Oracle boss Larry Ellison opens airport lounge. And much more.

February 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Starwood, Carlson and US Airways devalue their frequent-guest programs. United Airlines juggles Australia service this fall. Delta Air Lines will launch a Chicago-London route. Virgin America wins Washington/National slots. Hilton continues to add properties worldwide. Filling the gap United leaves behind in Cleveland. Delta and Alaska Airlines battle on in Sea-Tac. And much more.

February 13 A Special Stuck-in-the-Snow Briefing
Since so many of us are stuck in the snow or sheltered in place, I thought now would be the perfect time to catch up with some crucial items you may have missed in the last year. So let's revisit: This is why we pay attention to London flights. Southwest pays Delta to take AirTran's planes. Lufthansa hopes you will buy discounted first class. A few flyers generate the most transcon dollars. Marriott instantly doubles its presence in Africa. Just 5.9 percent of flyers use Gogo WiFi. We're not as stupid as airline executives think. And much more.

February 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Southwest Airlines starts spreading flights from Love. Korean Air adds Houston-Seoul flights in May. United Airlines drops the hammer on its Cleveland hub. The Marriott Autograph Collection adds three hotels. Let the AA-US code-sharing and route shearing begin. Hawaiian Airlines launches premium economy service. Delta revives the 1980s in its in-flight safety video. But why?

January 30 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Southwest and JetBlue will provide the competition at Washington/National. China is still the hot place to add new flights. American will stuff more seats on its aircraft. Another burst of chain hotels open worldwide. United rejigggers Newark for super-elite flyers. Malaysia Air is dropping its "secret" LAX-Tokyo flights and exiting the U.S. market. JetBlue is adding WiFi to 15 aircraft every month. And much more.

January 23 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: "Customer-Friendly" United is losing 250,000 customers a month. Loews offers free in-room WiFi to all guests. Austrian Airlines ramps up flights to its Vienna hub. United reopens a boarding area in San Francisco. The new $2 billion terminal in Mumbai is ready for flights. Virgin America club at LAX opens to Priority Pass and American Express Platinum cardholders. Speak loudly and spout big business-travel opinions. And much more.

January 16 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The "new" American's Gospel: Thou Shalt Not Compete. Delta's SkyClub changes are worse than you think. Get to this Hampton via the Last Train to Clarksville. Southwest says in-flight TV will be free in 2014. Hilton opens three more Home2Suite properties. Five hurt by turbulence on United Beijing flight. Diners, drive-ins, dives--and Chase United cardholders lounges. And much more.

January 9 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Delta's three-year plan: many more crappy coach seats. American offers limited perks with US Airways. The "new" hotels that used to be something else. Invasion of the Laker clones across the Atlantic. IHG Rewards members now get free Internet. Berlin's Brandenburg Airport won't open this year, either. Hyatt elites now get 20 percent rate discounts and much more.

These columns originally appeared at JoeSentMe.com.

Copyright © 1993-2014 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.