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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR OCTOBER 21, 1999


This week: Stay on the way and save; an indifferent Concierge from Conde Nast; some rare New York bargains; the regional-jet revolution; a business-class fare break from Destination Europe; and more.

BY JOE BRANCATELLI

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Stay on the Way and Save
It's infrequently publicized and almost never mentioned by travel agents, but airlines often offer free or low-cost hotel stays when you book your international itinerary through their hub. Generically called "stay-on-the-way" programs, the promotions permit you to spend a night or more at the airline's home city between connecting flights. One example: the "Vienna on Us" deal from Austrian Airlines (800-843-0002). Travelers who purchase a full-fare business class ticket to any destination beyond Austria receive a free overnight stay at any of six superb Vienna hotels. The "Emirates Stopover in Dubai" from Emirates (800-777-3999) is even more extensive. Regardless of class, travelers flying beyond Dubai pay just $29 a night for accommodations, breakfast, and airport transfers. Among other carriers offering stay-on-the-way deals: Iberia (800-772-4642), Cathay Pacific (800-233-2742) and SAS (800-221-2350).

CYBERTRAVELER: An Indifferent Concierge
Conde Nast, the publishing giant whose properties include Conde Nast Traveler and The New Yorker, has introduced Concierge.com [http://www.concierge.com], a self-proclaimed "travel supersite." Concierge.com is deep and dense with general travel tales, destination data and features. On the other hand, the contents are surprisingly bland and indifferent. The best of the lot: Terminally Hip [http://www.concierge.com/travel/c_planning/06_airports/intro.html], an excellent worldwide guide to airport-to-city transportation options.

IN THE LOBBY: New York on Sunday (or Saturday)
If you've tried to rent a room in the New York this fall, you know there are few beds to be found and discounts--even by New York's stratospheric standards--are non-existent. But if you can plan your business trips around the weekends, then there are some bargains. For example, The Phillips Club (212-835-8800), an extended-stay hotel near Lincoln Center, offers weekend rates of $250 a night for a junior suite and $300 for one-bedroom suites. The prices are valid through November 27. The Benjamin (888-4-BENJAMIN) opened earlier this year and now offers weekend rates of $282 a night. The price, which includes breakfast for two or free parking, is valid through December 24. The Kitano, a Japanese-style hotel on Park Avenue, has posted weekend rates that start at $260 a night (a two-night minimum applies). Valid through December 31, the "Luxury Leisure Breaks" package includes breakfast and discounts at Macy's and Bloomingdale's. Book through Summit Hotels (800-457-4000). And The Doral Park Avenue (877-99-DORAL) has a two-night "Born to Shop Weekend Package" that includes room, breakfast and discount coupons at several shops. The two-night price starts at $448.

AIRPORT REPORT: The Regional-Jet Revolution
Regional jets, those 50-seat pocket rockets that are an odd cross between commuter planes and traditional jets, are revolutionizing airline route maps. In some cases, the so-called RJs are replacing slow, uncomfortable turboprops. But on other routes, jet carriers and their commuter partners are using RJs as replacements for the larger equipment business travelers prefer. The RJs are even impacting the relationship between the major airlines and their commuters. In fact, when Delta Air Lines purchased Comair earlier this week, part of the attraction was the Cincinnati-based commuter carrier's all-jet fleet. The RJ revolution picks up steam daily. This week alone, in fact, Atlantic Coast, a United Express carrier, began RJ service between Chicago/O'Hare and both Mobile, Alabama and Washington/Dulles. Midway Airlines launched RJ service between its hub at Raleigh/Durham and Louisville, Kentucky. Air Canada launched RJ flights between Dulles and Halifax, Nova Scotia. And American Eagle announced that it will switch to regional jets from turboprops next month on routes from O'Hare to Madison, Wisconsin, and Fort Wayne and Evansville, Indiana.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Shut Up, Sit Down, Buckle Up
Back in July, after 60 passengers were injured when a Continental Airlines flight encountered turbulence, I wrote a column urging you to shut up, sit down and buckle your seat belt. If you need still another example of how dangerous turbulence can be--and why you must buckle up when you're seated--then consider what happened last Sunday near Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport. A China Southern flight hit turbulence just before landing and 47 people were injured. Ten of the 160 passengers were carried off the plane on stretchers. Some passengers said they saw some travelers fly from their seats and hit the cabin roof of the Boeing 757.

THE WEEKLY WONDER: Business-Class Breaks
Destination Europe (800-835-1555) has posted reduced fare for business class travel to six continental cities: Paris, Frankfurt, Milan, Rome, Madrid and Amsterdam. Roundtrip prices start at $2,787 and include a week's free cell-phone usage. Fares are valid from November 1 to March 31, excluding December 12-January 9. Most of the service is provided by Northwest and KLM via Amsterdam.

This column originally appeared at biztravel.com.

Copyright 1993-2007 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.