The Tactical Traveler

FOR MARCH 8, 2000


This week: Car rental firms slash one-way daily car-rental rates from Florida to almost anywhere; Terry Trippler breaks airfare news and information; new international terminal set to open in San Francisco; Virgin Atlantic rewards premium-class flyers with free PDAs; airlines rush to add new flights to Hawaii; and more.

COST-CUTTERS: Drive Out of Florida for Just About Anywhere
What happens to all the rental cars that snowbirds leave behind in Florida after the winter travel rush is over? Car-rental firms try to get you to drive the vehicles elsewhere in the country for them. The bait they offer: one-way daily rental rates that are about two-third below normal one-way prices.

This year's first Florida fleet-movement offer comes from National Car Rental [] (800-CAR-RENT). The company's "Great Florida Drive Out" is effective from April 1 to June 30 and prices start at $19.99 a day or $124.99 a week for a compact car. Renters can pick up a vehicle in selected cities--including Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Miami--and drive them one-way to 34 locations across the United States. The rentals include unlimited miles and are available for as long as 14 days; reservations require 3-day advance booking. All sizes of passenger cars and mini-vans are available.

BEST OF THE WEB: The Man on the Fare Front
In just a few months, Terry Trippler's Airline News feature [] at [] has emerged as an indispensable site for breaking airfare news and information. Trippler has positioned himself on the front lines of the fare game and he's wonderfully obsessed with the nuts and bolts of pricing. In fact, he'll often post two or three reports on days when the airlines are launching price wars or attempting to raise fares. Trippler, provides fast and instant analyses, researches fares in specific markets, and regularly finds quirks in the fare structure that the airlines would prefer to keep a secret.

ON THE FLY: News You Need to Know
United Airlines ( is launching twice-daily flights to Toronto from its hub in Denver. Service begins May 4. San Francisco International Airport ( has set September 26 as the official opening date for its new international terminal. But you may find yourself arriving at or departing from the 2.5-million-square-foot facility much sooner. Charter flights will begin using the facility as early as August and scheduled flights will begin service there weeks before the official opening. Check with your airline for specific details. Virgin Atlantic Airways ( is rewarding premium-class passengers with personal digital assistants. Fly roundtrip to London once in business class or twice in Premium Economy (Virgin's full-fare coach cabin) before June 30 and you'll receive a Handspring Visor Deluxe (, a leather case and a cradle. Fly an additional business-class or full-fare coach roundtrip before August 30 and you'll also receive a Handspring modem. The only string attached: you must be a member of Virgin's "flying club" frequent-flyer program. For complete details, consult the promotion's web page (

VACATION STATION: Saying 'Aloha' to Hawaii Again
Airlines slashed service to Hawaii from the U.S. mainland in the early 1990s, complaining that low-priced package vacationers and frequent flyers claiming free tickets made flights to the island largely unprofitable. But all that has apparently changed and airlines are now rushing to add new flights to the Aloha State. Aloha Airlines ( began flights last month from Oakland to both Honolulu and Maui. TWA ( last week began flights to Maui from its St. Louis hub. And on May 1, TWA begins flying to Kona on the Big Island from both St. Louis and Los Angeles. To introduce the service, TWA is promoting sale prices--$398 roundtrip from Los Angeles, $598 from St. Louis and $598 for connecting flights from most of the rest of the nation--for tickets purchased by March 24. Three days later, United Airlines ( will add a second daily flight from Los Angeles to Kona.

This column originally appeared at

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