The Tactical Traveler

FOR APRIL 6, 2000


This week: Air Canada and Canadian bulk up to the United States; the gear you need for Cybertraveling; the raw data on road, rail and air safety; US Airways gets the okay to fly from Pittsburgh to London; Vietnam is back on the world art maps; and more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: North By Northwest (and East, too)
You may not like that Air Canada has gobbled up Canadian Airlines and now controls Canada's skies, but the first combined schedule from the two carriers shows substantially more flights to and from the United States. The new service kicked in Monday and offers: a nonstop daily flight between Los Angeles and Edmonton on Canadian Airlines; a nonstop daily flight between Denver and Montreal on Air Canada; four daily commuter flights each business day between Dayton and Toronto, and three commuter flights between Albany and Toronto. To promote the new services, members of the Air Canada, Canadian Airlines or United frequent-flyer plans receive double miles the first time they fly any of the routes before August 31.

CYBERTRAVELER: The Gear You Need to be a Cybertraveler
Sprint is trying to attract frequent flyers and the solution du jour is the "Sprint Business Traveler," a combination of hardware, phone support and website. The heart of the package is a 3-pound, 9x12x2.5-inch folio chock full of connectivity tools. The zippered folio includes: 5 power and 13 phone-jack adapters; a tester to determine if phone lines are digital or analog; a spooling, 8.5-foot phone extension cord; and a carrying pouch. The package also includes a calling card, manuals, connectivity cheat sheets and access to an array of Sprint's proprietary phone services. The package has kinks--the folio is larger than most laptops, the website is confusing, and the tech support only operates five days a week--but it does virtually ensure frequent flyers can remain Cybertravelers anywhere in the world. Sprint Business Traveler sells for $150, or $95 if you are a qualifying Sprint customer.

SECURITY WATCH: How Safe are the Roads, Rails and Skies?
Are the roads, rails and skies safe? Recent statistics would lead you to conclude the answer is a qualified yes. In the skies, the fatality count on commercial flights in the United States rose to 12 in 1999, up from zero in 1998. Twelve more died in commuter-airline accidents last year; no one died in 1998. According to the statistics, compiled by the National Transportation Safety Board, the number of air-traffic fatalities dropped to 342 last year from 365 in 1998. General-aviation accidents claimed 628 lives, up from 1998's death toll of 623. On the nation's highways, 41,345 people died last year, down slightly from the 41,471 fatalities in 1998. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1999's road-fatality rate was 1.5 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down more than 70 percent from 1966's death rate of 5.5. The news isn't nearly as good on the nation's rails, however. According to a federal audit of track used in the heavily-trafficked East Coast corridor, derailments have increased 60 percent over the past five years. The 22,000 miles of track, which stretches as far north as New York and as far south as Florida, is "unacceptable," admits Ronald Conway, president of the company that owns the infrastructure.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Knows
The United States and Britain have called a temporary truce in the seemingly endless battle over bi-national traffic rights. The immediate result: US Airways will be allowed to fly between its Pittsburgh hub and London's Gatwick Airport. The airline says service will begin on July 17. Northwest Airlines has created special fares for parents traveling overseas to adopt children. The fares--65 percent off full coach and 50 percent off business class--are valid to 100 destinations, require no advance purchase and have open return dates. American Airlines has requested the right to fly between Los Angeles and Reagan National Airport in Washington. Congress recently authorized limited new long-haul service to National. More proof that airlines are indistinguishable commodities: British Midland, SAS and Lufthansa, which already have cross-ownership and cross-alliances, will begin three-way code-sharing on all flights to Europe from London/Heathrow and Manchester. The deal becomes effective May 2. And from the strange bedfellows file: Air France and Aeroflot Russian Airlines have signed an accord to create a global alliance.

WEEKLY WONDER: Vietnam, Emerging
It's not yet back on most Americans' itineraries yet, but Hanoi is emerging as one of the world's hot new art markets. And the Hotel Sofitel Metropole (800-SOFITEL) has packaged some of the the Vietnamese capital's art scene with dining and accommodations. The "Hanoi Art Tour" bundle offers three nights at the five-star Sofitel Metropole; visits to several museums and attractions; two dinners and daily breakfast. Prices start at $700 a person, include airport transfers and land touring, and are valid until December 31.

This column originally appeared at

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