The Tactical Traveler

FOR JANUARY 25, 2000


This week: How to avoid airline fuel surcharges; two new newsletters offer a glimpse of life in travel’s fast line; admission rates rise at Orlando theme parks; Venice now charges for public toilets; Allegiant Air is approved for scheduled service; and more.

COST CUTTERS: Avoiding the Airline Fuel Surcharge
The U.S. airline industry reaped $2 billion in additional profit when jet fuel prices plummeted in 1998, but now that energy costs are rising, most major carriers expect you to pay the freight. That explains why nine airlines last week began imposing fuel surcharges as high as $20 round-trip for domestic travel on or after February 1.

You can minimize and even avoid the new fees with careful ticket shopping. The fare maven at [], Terry Trippler, is tracking the surcharges at a special page []. Trippler notes that a half-dozen major carriers have moved in lockstep and initiated levies of $10 one-way/$20 round-trip. But others are charging less: Alaska Airlines [] has imposed a $5 one-way/$10 round-trip surcharge, and Hawaiian [] and Midway [] charge $3 one-way and $6 round-trip.

Most importantly, however, about a dozen carries are not raising fares by imposing the fuel surcharge. As of noon on Monday, this list includes Southwest [] and USAirways [], two of the nation's largest airlines. Combined with the route networks of smaller carriers shunning fees--including AirTran [], Frontier [], Sun Country [] and American Trans Air []--those airlines can get you most anywhere you want to go without paying for the airlines' fuel bills.

BEST OF THE WEB: An Electronic Preview of Travel's Luxe Life
If you've got the dollars to live in travel's fast lane--or if you just want to read about it--there are two indispensable newsletters: Bill Tomicki's Entrée and Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report. Neither of these pricy monthlies is available on the web, but both offer a taste in electronic form. Before spending $135 for a year of Harper's product, which focuses on longish reviews of resorts and major destinations, you can preview a sample issue []. Tomicki's $59-a-year newsletter is more personal, more colorfully written and most frequently covers places Tomicki himself frequents. Entrée's online presence [] offers a smattering of Tomicki's insightful reviews and trenchant opinions as well as his no-holds-barred monthly letter to subscribers.

VACATION STATION: Prices Rise at Orlando Theme Parks
Just in time to squeeze a few extra bucks out of Presidents Day visitors, Walt Disney World [] in Orlando has raised admission rates. Disney hiked single-day admissions by $2, to $46 for adults and $37 for children 3 to 9. Prices for multi-day passes increased between $7 and $12. Universal Studios Escape [ ] matched Disney's increase. … Aeromexico [] has launched Saturday and Sunday nonstop service from Atlanta to Cozumel, the resort island off the coast of Cancun. … One of the oldest tourist attractions in New York, the Fraunces Tavern, has closed. The restaurant was the location of George Washington's farewell address to his officers in 1783.

ON THE FLY: News You Need to Know
Venice now charges visitors 1,000 lire (52 cents) to use any of the city's public toilets. … Australia is gearing up for the Summer Olympics in Sydney beginning September 15, but there's bad news on the economic front. The Australian dollar is expected to rise about 10 percent in value against the U.S. dollar in the coming months. That will increase the cost of hotel stays, car rentals, dining, and other local purchases by a similar amount. … Allegiant Air [], which runs charter flights, has been approved for scheduled service. Allegiant operates in a triangle between Fresno, Long Beach and Las Vegas and says it will add a Long Beach-Salt Lake City route next month.

This column originally appeared at

Copyright © 1999-2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.