The Tactical Traveler



This week: The worst airports in Europe for on-time operations; aviation news for information junkies; Northwest and Sun Country woo the high-yield business traveler; TWA brings back triple miles; the BBC demands the right to air the Lockerbie trial; and an only-on-Sunday rate in New York.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Europe's Must-Miss Airports
Europe's airlines and airports are struggling with horrifically crowded skies and a crumbling air-traffic control system. The result? A staggering 30 percent of all flights last year were delayed by more than 15 minutes. But some European airports are performing much more poorly than others and are must-miss for business travelers hoping to make timely connections. Topping Europe's list of shame is Milan's Malpensa Airport. The facility lives up to its name--roughly translated, Malpensa means "bad thoughts" --by operating late on 54 percent of its arrivals and departures. Next worst is Madrid, where 48 percent of all flights operated late last year. Rounding out Europe's worst airports are Barcelona (47.9 percent late), Rome (37 percent of flights late) and Munich (36.7 percent). Your best chance for a timely journey in Europe? Copenhagen, where only 18.3 percent of flights run late. Also comparatively good performers: Stockholm, Helsinki, Dublin and London's Gatwick Airport, all of which register on-time ratings around 80 percent

CYBERTRAVELER: Aviation News for Information Junkies
The more you fly, the more likely you are to subscribe to Aviation Week, an aviation trade magazine and a staple in the mailbox of frequent-flying information junkies. Like most McGraw-Hill publications, however, Aviation Week was slow to the Internet. Until now, that is. The magazine's new website, Aviation Now [], is awash in useful stories about airports, airlines, airplanes and the minutia of modern air travel. The site launched earlier this month, so not all the links are operating perfectly yet. But most business travelers will find Aviation Now a crucial bookmark and invaluable for keeping up with the nuts and bolts--and rudders and fuselages--of air travel.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Wooing the High-Yield Flyer
With air travel slowing and frequent flyers resisting record-high business fares, airlines are scrambling to invent new price categories. The goal, of course, is to convince business travelers that fares aren't quite as rapacious as they really are. One of the most publicized new approaches is BizFlex from Northwest Airlines. It offers discounts of about 40 percent off standard full-fare coach and somewhat manageable restrictions: 10-day advance purchase with an overnight (but not a Saturday-night stay) stay required. The roundtrip fare, coded 10BIZN, is nonrefundable and available in most of Northwest's U.S. and Canadian markets. And while it hasn't gotten as much nationwide coverage as BizFlex, Onefare from Sun Country Airlines may actually be more creative and useful for frequent flyers. It offers flat-rate pricing ($130 one-way or $260 roundtrip) to any Sun Country destination. Better yet, Onefare requires no advance purchase or Saturday stay. But travelers must register in advance for the program, commit to 20 roundtrips in a 12-month period and book exclusively through the Sun Country website [].

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
An update on the February 3 edition of The Brancatelli File concerning the Priority Pass program: The airport-lounge membership plan now includes access to all 26 US Airways Clubs. That brings the total number of participating lounges to about 300 clubs at 179 airports in 70 countries. TWA's Aviators frequent-flyer program is offering a triple-mile promotion. Aviators members who purchase first, business or full-fare coach tickets usually receive one bonus FareRewards mile for every dollar spent. Through April 30, however, TWA will give triple bonus miles on any full-fare or premium-class ticket. The British Broadcasting Company has taken legal action in Scotland seeking permission to televise the trial of the two Libyans charged with blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie. The trial is scheduled to begin on May 3 in a specially constructed court on a military base in the Netherlands. McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville opened a renovated terminal and new concourses last week. The $55 million project was two years in the making. More than 50 million Americans used the Internet to plan travel last year, according to the Travel Industry Association. Separately, airline analyst Susan Donofrio of Deutsche Banc Alex Brown estimates that 20 percent of Southwest Airlines' ticket bookings are now made via the Internet. At the other end of the scale, however, only 3.3 percent of Continental's bookings come from the web.

THE WEEKLY WONDER: Only on Sundays
Le Parker Meridien Hotel (800-543-4300) in New York is offering a special rate of $175 a night--but only for Sunday-night stays through April 30. During the same period, standard weekend rates range from $210-$235 a night. By comparison, weekday rates at the Midtown hotel range from $325-$395 a night.

This column originally appeared at

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