The Tactical Traveler

FOR MAY 17, 2000


This week: Domestic airlines raise prices; short-term fare deals from AirTran and jetBlue; Kimpton launches Boutique Lodging International Web site; United cancels flights citing pilots’ dispute; Delta adds larger overhead storage bins in B-757 and MD-88 aircraft; Air Canada appoints a customer service ombudsman; Heritage Trail opens on St. Croix; Sabena’s summer family sale; Hertz slashes 10 percent off AAA’s discounted rate for "specialty" vehicles; and more.

COST-CUTTERS: Fares Are Rising, But Short-Term Deals Continue
Led by Continental Airlines, [] most major U.S. carriers instituted wide-ranging price increases last weekend. Fares rose from $10 to $30 roundtrip on all unrestricted "walk-up" type fares and on many restricted, advance-purchase fares. But short-term deals continue to be announced in the face of the increases. AirTran [] has introduced "Summer Savings Grade A Deals" for travel through September 28. Discounts are as much as 35 percent off 7-day advance purchase fares; tickets must be purchased by May 25. And JetBlue Airways [] is offering $5 off any one-way fare booked at its website before May 31. This discount is valid on flights through September 6.

BEST OF THE WEB: Boutique Hotels, Image and Reality
Bill Kimpton and his firm, Kimpton Lodging, operate more than two dozen of the nation's most-admired "boutique" hotels, including the Hotel Monaco in Denver, the Alexis in Seattle and the Harbor Court in his home town of San Francisco . But in his zeal to keep each hotel's image of independence and individuality intact, Kimpton has made booking his properties extremely difficult. There is no one-stop reservation telephone number--each hotel must be dialed separately--and even the Kimpton website [] does not offer centralized booking. But now Kimpton has created a more generic site, Boutique Lodging International [], which lashes the hotels together. At the moment, the site mainly promotes Kimpton properties and special deals, but Boutique Lodging says is will build a "global network" of like-minded hotels and resorts.

ON THE FLY: Airline News You Need to Know
A dispute between United Airlines [] and its pilots has forced the airline to cancel 100 or more flights each day for the last week. As many as 240 flights were canceled last Saturday, which represents 10 percent of United's system-wide schedule. The cancellations may continue indefinitely. … The reputation of Qantas [] as the world's safest major airline has taken a major hit after a series of non-fatal incidents around the world. And U.S. regulators last week withdrew the Australian airline's approval to perform certain repair work on American aircraft. … Delta Air Lines [] is reconfiguring its fleet of B-757 and MD-88 aircraft with larger overhead storage bins. The airline hasn't relaxed its stringent carry-on policy, but the larger bins will hold more of the 22-inch rolling bags increasingly favored by frequent travelers. … Air Canada [] said last week it would appoint a company ombudsman to oversee customer service. Service complaints have skyrocketed as a result of Air Canada's acquisition of Canadian Airlines [] earlier this year.

VACATION STATION: News from Around The World
A new "Heritage Trail" has opened on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The trail transverses the entire 28-mile length of the island and links historical attractions, agricultural sites and areas of cultural and ethnic interest. Trail brochures and maps for a self-guided tour are available from the St. Croix Landmarks Society at 340-773-0598. … The "Shroud of Turin" will be on public display in the cathedral in Turin, Italy from August 26 to October 22. Advance reservations are required and can be secured on-line for $10 from Select Italy []. … American Airlines Vacations [] is offering 10,000 bonus American AAdvantage miles if you book a Hawaii package before May 31. Travel is valid until December 15. … Speaking of Hawaii, don't be confused by the creation of the allegedly "island-style" Ohana Hotels [] chain in Waikiki. The 15 hotels aren't new properties or a new concept at all, just older Outrigger [] locations rebranded with a new name.

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