The Tactical Traveler

FOR APRIL 20, 2000


This week: The fine print can trip up your trip; Legend Airlines finally launches from Dallas Love Field; Qantas will fly its own aircraft to Canada; the Delta-Air France alliance wants Aerflot and Korean Air; the Transportation begins reporting on flight cancellations; cruising to the British Open; and much more.

A frequent flyer contacted me recently with a sad tale: He and another traveler totaled a rental car in Germany and then were denied the coverage they thought was provided by his credit cardís car-rental program. The reason? A driver other than the person whose credit card was used was at the wheel at the time of the accident. Unfortunately, the fine print of most credit-card car-rental coverage limits the card companyís liability only to the person whose name is on the card unless a second driver is specifically listed on the rental contract. Moreover, travelers who use a personal credit card will find additional drivers are not covered unless they are immediate family members. Another frequent flyer contacted me when he was involuntarily denied boarding for a flight and then was denied what he thought was the compensation mandated by the Department of Transportation. The reason: the airline has changed equipment, substituting a smaller plane for a larger aircraft. Unfortunately, the fine print of the Transportation Departmentís involuntary-boarding rules exempts airlines from required compensation if the airline cancels a flight or if the carrier uses smaller equipment than originally scheduled. Compensation is also waived if the traveler isnít prepared to board at the time specified by the airline.

AIRPORT REPORT: New Routes, Long and Short
Legend Airlines finally began flying from Love Field in Dallas earlier this month. It now serves Washington/Dulles, Los Angeles and Las Vegas using DC-9 jets with just 56 seats configured 2x2 in 14 rows. (If you want to understand some of the controversy surrounding Legend and Love Field and why Legend is flying DC-9s with only 56 seats, surf over to the Dallas Business Journal website for details.) Ö Qantas lost its Canadian code-share partner when Air Canada purchased Canadian Airlines and withdrew it from the Oneworld alliance, so now the Australian carrier will begin flying on its own. In July, Qantas will launch four Toronto-Sydney flights and three Vancouver-Sydney flights. All will operate via Honolulu. Ö JetBlue Airways, the well-funded start-up based at Kennedy Airport in New York, launches service to Orlando on June 21. Ö US Airways began daily nonstops last week between its Charlotte hub and Paris; the airline says it will launch Charlotte-Frankfurt service next month. Ö Frontier begins three daily flights from its Denver hub to Kansas City on June 15. Ö Delta launched daily nonstop New York/Kennedy-Lyon, France, flights last week. Ö Midway says that it will begin three daily flights between its Raleigh-Durham hub and Buffalo, New York, on May 22.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Cathay Pacific is adding beds on its night flights to Hong Kong from New York and Los Angeles. The new seats will be in place by April 30. Ö You know those grandiose global airline alliances are beginning to scrape the bottom of the aviation barrel when they have to recruit Aeroflot and Korean Air. But those are the prospective new partners in the nascent Delta-Air France alliance. Delta abandoned its code-share with Korean last year after a spate of crashes and demonstrated record of risky flying, but Delta chief executive Leo Mullin now insists Korean Airís "management is committed to a safe operation." Ö Speaking of alliances, Le Meridien and Nikko are forging a hotel alliance. The two chains will share reservation numbers and brochures, as well as link their guest-recognition plans. Ö The Department of Transportationís Air Travel Consumer Report now offers monthly statistics of the number of flights cancelled by the 10 major airlines. United cancelled the most flights (2,733) in February, the first month reported, but Alaska (8.6%) had the highest percentage rate of cancellations. Southwest had the fewest cancellations (302) and the lowest cancellation rate (1.2%). ... Seattle Lab, a software firm, and Honeywell, the aircraft-systems manufacturer, say that they have developed a product that will make in-flight E-mail available to commercial air travelers. The system, called Inflightmail, would allow travelers to use their laptops or a seatback console to send or receive messages while flying.

CYBERTRAVELER: Seen on the Net
United Airlines has changed its web address to Ö has redesigned its site, making maps easier to find and allowing users to request specific map references such as a FedEx office or a Starbucks location.

WEEKLY WONDER: Cruising Your Way to the British Open
Even duffers like me are captivated by the British Open, which this year is scheduled for July 20-23 at Scotlandís famed St. Andrews course. Thatís led Scotia Travel, a Glasgow-based travel company, to charter the QE2 and offer it to golf fans intent on visiting this yearís millennium edition of the Open. Four-day packages, including three nights on the QE2, all meals, transfers and a 4-day ticket to the Open, start at about $1,500 a person. There are also 7-day packages and other options. Golf great Tony Jacklin will be aboard to provide commentary. For complete details, contact Scotia Travel (888-336-4281).

This column originally appeared at

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