The Tactical Traveler

FOR JANUARY 13, 2000


This week: the second Battle of Britain this year begins with more $99 fares to London; the worldwide airline trade association admits there's a global fare revolt; Southwest Airlines is coming to Albany, New York; Staples will open at a second airport; and much more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: The Battle of Britain Continues
The first Battle of Britain of the New Year--London tickets for $99 one-way--ended on Monday. Then it promptly resumed on Tuesday with a another round of absurdly low winter coach fares to the British capital and a free-ticket offer for business-class customers. On the coach front, one-way fares for midweek travel to London in January and February now range from $99 (via New York, Newark and Boston) to $179 from cities such as Denver, San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix. Weekend flights and travel in March are $25 more each way. Tickets must be purchased by January 26 and require a Saturday stay and 7-day advance purchase. On the business-class front, British Airways on Monday revived a campaign aimed at seducing travelers into its Club World cabin. Purchase a roundtrip transatlantic business-class ticket (or two one-way segments) for travel between January 15 and April 30 and BA will reward you with a pair of coach tickets to virtually anywhere in the world. Better yet, all you need do to qualify is give BA your comments on its Club World service and join Executive Club USA, BA's frequent-flyer program.

CYBERTRAVELER: Surfing Onto the Record
One could wish the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General (OIG) was investigating matters of more substantive interest to business travelers, but its current brief is overbooking and "access to the lowest fares." For frequent flyers, overbooking is rarely a problem and few of us worry about access to cheap fares since we never qualify for them anyway. Still, if you want to record your comments, surf over to the OIG website [] and fill out its electronic survey form. Hard copies of the forms can be obtained by fax at 800-884-9190. The OIG says is it will deliver an interim report to Congress on June 15.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Global Fare Revolt
The International Air Transport Association, the cabalistic trade group that dominates the global airline agenda, rarely does anything that offends its 265 member carriers or aids the cause of business travelers. That's why the results of its annual Corporate Air Travel Survey is startling in its frank assessment of airline pricing patters. According to IATA's own statistics, worldwide frequent flyers are revolting against high fares and migrating into economy class. The findings, IATA admits, have "stark implications" for business travel. The survey covered more than 1,000 North American, European and Asian business travelers. And, for the first time in the 10-year history of the IATA survey, more business travelers are flying coach than business class. Half of all travelers now fly in the back of the bus, 46 percent flew business and just four percent used first class. As corporations around the world attempt to slash travel costs, IATA admits they are searching for cheaper fares than officially-quoted rates and are also demanding discounted and restricted coach tickets.

THE WEEKLY WONDER: The Big Apple at Big Discounts
If stratospherically high New York hotel prices have led you to curtail or defer travel to the Big Apple, you'll be happy to know that rates have been slashed during the traditionally slow months of January and February. Among the best deals: $295 a night instead of $535 at the ultra-deluxe Peninsula (212-956-2888) until February 29; $300 for a suite at the Phillips Club (212-835-8800) until February 7; $175 including breakfast instead of $215 at The Avalon (212-299-7000) until March 31; and $169 a night including breakfast when you use the American Express card at the Doral Park Avenue (877-99-DORAL) until March 31.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Southwest Airlines has targeted Albany, the capital of New York State, as its next stop. The low-fare specialist says flights will begin in May, but did not announce routes or fares. Staples, the office-supplies chain, will open its second airport location on January 22 at Boston's Logan Airport.. The 1,400-square-foot kiosk is located in Terminal C. The first airport Staples opened last year at Philadelphia International. TWA had the best on-time performance for the fourth consecutive month and America West racked up the worst record for the five straight month, according to statistics released last week by the Transportation Department. According to the report, which covered travel in November, 1999, TWA reported an 89.7 on-time arrival rate while America West flights were on-time only 69.1 percent of the time. MetroJet, the low-fare division of USAirways, is dropping flights from Washington/Dulles to St. Louis, Milwaukee and Columbus, Ohio. But MetroJet will launch flights between Boston/Logan and Chicago/Midway on March 5.

This column originally appeared at

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