The Tactical Traveler



This week: Northwest takes on Delta in a domestic fare war; United discounts Hawaii fares via internet-only bookings; Diamond Head is no longer free to visitors; airline accidents increased in the 1990s; travelers lose in the battle over Heathrow access; France and Spain vie to be the most visited destination; and more.

COST CUTTERS: This Fare War Really Is--A Fare War, We Mean
Incensed that Delta Air Lines [] has controlled the bidding for and distribution of tickets from Atlanta via Priceline [], Northwest Airlines has retaliated by offering extraordinarily deep discounts at its own proprietary website []. The deals are targeted at travelers flying between Delta's three hubs--Atlanta, Salt Lake City or Cincinnati--and two dozen cities around the nation. Fares range from $98 to $218 roundtrip and do not require a bidding process, but itineraries almost always require an intermediate stop or change of planes at Northwest's hubs in Detroit, Minneapolis or Memphis. Travel is permitted through June 10; seats are limited and tickets must be purchased seven days in advance.

BEST OF THE WEB: On the Couch on The Net
Two researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle are putting business travelers on the psychiatrist's couch. Or at least as close as you can get to a couch on the Internet. According to their website, A Study of Air Travel Experiences [], the researchers want to "better understand personal and situational factors related to air travel." You can fill out seven brief surveys that ask about your demographic and cultural background, your personal preferences and feelings, your travel experiences and your work-related activity. The anonymous surveys require about 20 minutes to complete. None of the forms allow you to blame it all on your mother, however.

VACATION STATION: Sunny Spain and Hot News from Hawaii
Hawaii's most famous landmark, the volcanic crater known as Diamond Head, is no longer free to visitors. In order to enter the crater and climb the 760-foot trail to the summit, visitors now must pay $1 a person or $5 per car. … Speaking of Hawaii, United Airlines [] is offering Internet-only fares to Honolulu that must be purchased by midnight Central Time on Friday, February 4. Sample prices: $319 roundtrip from Los Angeles or San Francisco, $518 from Denver; and $699 from New York and Washington. Travel must be complete by March 22 and the listed fares are valid for flights on Monday through Thursday.

ON THE FLY: News You Need to Know
The decade-long wrangling between the United States and Britain over access to Heathrow Airport  in London continued last week and travelers are the big losers. Left on the negotiating table was a proposal to allow USAirways  to launch service between its hub in Pittsburgh and London's Gatwick Airport.   British Airways  abandoned Pittsburgh-London service last year. ... The number of airline accidents increased in the 1990s compared to the previous decade, but travel was markedly safer, according to the latest issue of Flight International []. Compared to the 1980s, the number of airline accidents rose by 28 percent in the 1990s and deaths increased by 12.5 percent, but the number of airline travelers rose by 32 percent and there were 30 percent more flights. ... China believes it will become the world's top travel destination by 2020. In recent years, France and Spain have been vying for the title of world's most visited destination.

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