The Tactical Traveler



This week: airlines raise business-travel fares again; how the other half travels on business; United and Continental plan nonstops to Hong Kong from New York; the Australian dollar and the Euro tank against the Almighty Dollar; and TWA makes us an offer we might not be able to refuse.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: You Keep Flying, They'll Keep Raising Fares
It's hard to keep track of all the fare increases without a calculator, but the $10-$30 one-way price hike imposed by the major carriers on Monday is the fifth this year. Like previous increases, this hike is aimed directly at business travelers: $10 for walk-up coach and first-class fares on trips up to 499 miles, $20 on flights up to 999 miles, and $30 for trips of 1,000 or more miles. It is worth noting that, like previous increases, this price hike does not apply to advance-purchase leisure fares. Why? Discretionary leisure travel is slumping. But since business travelers have continued to fly through the earlier fare hikes, the airlines felt perfectly comfortable raising business tariffs again. The obvious conclusion: you keep flying, they'll keep raising fares. So who says business travelers are smarter than leisure travelers?

ALTERNATE AGENDA: A Weekly Update on America's Discount Carriers
Spirit Airlines, the all-coach discount carrier, is expanding in the Midwest. Effective October 5, the airline will offer daily nonstop jet service between Chicago/O'Hare and three Florida cities: Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Fares start at $99 one-way. Pan American Airways, the all-coach fledgling with the famous name, says it will launch service next month at Lehigh Valley Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania. There will be daily nonstop jet service to Gary, Indiana, and to Pan Am's hub in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Fares start at $119.50 one way. Southwest Airlines, the 800-pound gorilla of discounters, has cut fares as low as $99 each way on many coast-to-coast itineraries. Tickets must be purchased by October 26 for travel until January 19. A roundtrip and 7-day advance purchase is required. The lowest fares are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

CYBERTRAVELER: Good Reading on the Web
The most popular feature of the defunct Frequent Flyer magazine, the detailed city and regional reports, has reappeared on the OAG website. The reports offer schedule updates, hotel information and other crucial business-travel news. The reporting is by Jerome Greer Chandler and Norm Sklarewitz, two experts who have blanketed the regional beats for more than a decade. Meanwhile, if you want to read how the other half travels on business, check "On the Go," the column Paul Grimes writes for Smarter Grimes recently spent a week with a corporate VIP and watched as he got all sorts of favors, perks and special treatment from airlines and hotels.

DOLLAR WATCH: The Dollar Continues its Worldwide Rampage
If the Summer Olympic Games whetted your appetite for a trip to Australia, here's some good news: The Australian dollar is in the financial tank. One Australian dollar is now worth only about 55 U.S. cents. Danish voters last week rejected the Euro, Europe's new common currency. Denmark will retain the krone instead of switching to the Euro, which next year replaces the local currency in 11 nations, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Euro is currently worth only about 87 U.S. cents, down from a high of $1.17 shortly after it was introduced in January, 1999.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
United Airlines says it will begin nonstop daily B-747 flights between New York/Kennedy and Hong Kong on April 1. Continental previously announced it would launch nonstop flights to Hong Kong from its New York/Newark hub on March 1 using the B-777. Both routes are over 7,000 nautical miles, making them among the longest nonstop hauls on the planet. CSA Czech Airlines will join the SkyTeam Alliance on April 1. SkyTeam was founded by Delta, Air France, Korean and AeroMexico in June. The vagaries of travel have even stymied mighty Wal-mart. The nation's leading retailer quietly dropped the booking engine on its website. The Wal-mart site is closed for renovation, but there'll be no travel component when it reopens. Everyone admires the ability of El Al to run its planes safely and securely, but few frequent flyers look forward to flying the Israeli carrier, which is notorious for poor in-flight service and rude employees. But Delta Air Lines flyers take note: Delta will put its code on El Al's New York/JFK-Tel Aviv flights beginning March 25.

WEEKLY WONDER: Free Tickets and Frequent-Flyer Status from TWA
Always short on cash and constantly hoping to woo frequent flyers from bigger carriers, TWA is making an offer that's very hard for business travelers to refuse. Spend as little as $1,500 on TWA published fares for travel before December 15 and the airline will throw you a free first-class ticket valid for travel in the continental United States, Canada and to several Caribbean destinations. Spend $2,500 and you'll also get six months free membership in the Ambassadors Club and receive Aviators Elite status valid through 2001. For the details and to register (and you must register before you fly), contact TWA at 800-325-4815 and enter code 85105.

This column originally appeared at

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