The Tactical Traveler

FOR MAY 10, 2000


This week: The “extras” make some full-fare rooms and air tickets more palatable; earn Northwest bonus miles with online vacation bookings; airlines post online-only fare sales; Indianapolis 500 and British Open packages; Continental and TWA add California flights; travel packages for the June opening of Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany; and more.

COST-CUTTERS: When to Buy Full-Fare Rooms and Air Tickets
The worst values in travel are full-fare airline tickets or hotels rooms purchased at the published retail (or "rack") rate. After all, full-fare buyers usually receive no more service than travelers getting a discount.

Sometimes, however, airlines and hotels make retail prices palatable by throwing in some extras. On example: Between June 1 and September 15, Cathay Pacific [] is offering a free companion ticket when you use an American Express card to buy a full-fare business-class seat to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Bali, Manila or Singapore. Meanwhile, stay at published rates at more than 100 Inter-Continental [] or Crowne Plaza [] hotels through August 31 and you'll receive a voucher good for a free night at 11 of the chains' Mexican resorts. (The vouchers are valid through December 20 when two nights are purchased at the resorts' published rates.) Lastly, travelers who buy full-fare coach tickets on China Southern Airlines [] flights between Los Angeles and Guangzhou receive an upgrade to the carrier's "PremiumEconomy" cabin.

These promotions join two year-round full-fare deals. The Northwest ConnectFirst [] program offers first-class upgrades to full-fare coach travelers connecting through Detroit, Minneapolis or Memphis. And the FirstUp [] plan from TWA gives first-class upgrades to full-fare coach flyers traveling through St. Louis or on most flights to or from New York/Kennedy.

BEST OF THE WEB: A Bonus for Vacation Bookings on the Net
WorldVacations, the travel-package arm of Northwest Airlines [], has redesigned its website and is offering an incentive to Internet bookers. Order a vacation from the site before June 30  and you'll receive a bonus of 3,000 Northwest Worldperks frequent-flyer miles. The offer is in additional to the actual flight miles flown on Northwest flights and the standard WorldVacations bonus of 500-2,000 miles per package.

ROUTE WATCH: California, Here We Come
Continental Airlines [] has launched twice-daily 737 flights between its Houston hub and Sacramento. … TWA [] is adding flights to Los Angeles from a variety of destinations. It launched service from Kona, Hawaii on May 1. It will add a fourth daily flight from New York/Kennedy on July 8. And pending government approval, TWA hopes to add three daily flights from Washington/Reagan National airport.

SPORT SPECIALS: The Great Race and the Pride of British Golf
A squabble in the auto-racing community has dulled the luster of the Indianapolis 500 [], but it remains the best attended single-day sporting event in the world. This year's race, slotted into its traditional Sunday-before-Memorial-Day position on May 28, may draw 250,000 spectators. Tickets are hard to come by, but Spectacular Sport Specials [] is offering four-day packages starting at $1,474 a person. The bundle includes accommodations, race-day tickets, airport and race-track transfers, and race-related perks. … The British Open [, one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world, is scheduled for St. Andrews, Scotland on July 20-23. So a Scottish travel agency called Scotia Travel [] has chartered Cunard Lines' luxurious Queen Elizabeth 2 and packaged 3- and 7-night cruises with tickets for the British Open. Prices start at about $1,500 for 3-night deals and include meals, accommodations, tournament admissions and commentary by golfing legend Tony Jacklin.

VACATION STATION: What if They Gave a World's Fair and Nobody Came?
Americans seem to have lost interest in World's Fairs after Expo 67 in Montreal. The World's Fair in Knoxville in 1982 and the 1998 exposition in Lisbon, Portugal were both financial and artistic failures. But that hasn't deterred Hannover, Germany, home of Expo 2000 [], which is scheduled to run from June 1 to October 31. The show will cover 1.7 million meters and sport contributions from more 190 nations and organizations. The fair's theme is a tongue-twister: "Mankind-Nature-Technology; A New World Emerges. The main attractions: the Japanese pavilion, which is made entirely of recycled paper and will itself be recycled at the end of the show; and the Finland pavilion, which encompasses a small forest of birch trees. Travel packagers offering tickets and travel to the show are General Tours [] and DER Travel []. One-day Fair admissions are $50.

This column originally appeared at

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