The Tactical Traveler



This week: a strategy for surviving the snow season; our weekly look at America's low-fare and alternate carriers; Korea prepares a super airport at Inchon; a great guide to airport transportation; Delta's chief executive has an epiphany on airfares; and hotel deals in overpriced, overcrowded New York.

Bitter experience has taught me a lesson: always have a back-up hotel room booked at the airport during the snow season. When you're on the road, snow falls and blizzards are less of a hassle if you've got a hotel room booked in case flights are canceled and the airport shuts down. While other snowbound frequent flyers are reduced to sleeping on chairs at their departure gate, you'll have a warm and cozy place to spend the night. How to do it? Before leaving home or checking out of your hotel, check the forecast. If snow is predicted, make a reservation for a hotel room at your departure airport. Most hotels will hold a room until at least 4 PM without charge if you guarantee the reservation with a credit card. If it snows and you're stuck at the airport, check into the room and relax. If not, fly away. But be sure to cancel your reservation, both as a courtesy to the hotel and to ensure your credit card won't be billed for the unused room night.

ALTERNATE AGENDA: A Weekly Look at America's Other Carriers
Midwest Express will drop flights between Indianapolis and three cities: Boston, Des Moines and New York/LaGuardia. Service end on January 6. American Trans Air has launched a "Sun Spots" sale. Fares range from $79 to $249 one-way for travel through March 1. An additional $10 roundtrip discount is offered for booking at the ATA website. All tickets require a 7-day advance and roundtrip purchase; travel must be booked and paid for by December 11. National Airlines is offering a winter fare sale with prices ranging from $68 to $328 roundtrip. Travel is valid between December 4 and February 14, but tickets must be purchased by December 8. A 7-day advance purchase is required and the lowest prices are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Speaking of National Airlines, the Las Vegas carrier has a deal with allowing travelers to pay full-fare coach for a first-class seat on selected routes. Tickets must be purchased by January 1 for travel by January 24.

AIRPORT REPORT: Seoul Gears Up a Super Airport
Korean authorities have labored for most of the last decade to position Seoul as a viable alternative to Tokyo as Asia's major gateway. But since Kimpo, the primary airport serving the Korean capital, is at least as creaky and overcrowded as Narita, Tokyo's dreadful international facility, a completely new Seoul airport was needed. The Korean solution: Inchon International, a super-airport situated on Yongjong Island, located about 18 miles from Seoul. Details of the astonishing new facility are available at the official, but lyrically named, site. The first phase of Inchon's construction has cost a staggering $4 billion and seems on target for initial passenger operations as early as March. ... The world is a complicated place and the world's airports are even more convoluted. And nothing is as confusing as trying to figure out how to get to and from various airports around the world. That's why I never leave home without Salk's Airport Transit Guide. The just-released 2001 edition of this 144-page, pocket-sized gem covers more than 450 airports worldwide and includes: taxi rates; bus, limo and van fares and schedules; public-transit options, parking rates, car-rental data and a variety of other transportation choices. This year's guide also offers airport web addresses and three-letter codes. I find the book indispensable and an absolute bargain at $9.95. You can get your own copy from Magellan's by phone (800-962-4943) or via the web.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
US Airways Express launches nonstop service between the USAirways hub in Charlotte and the Louisiana capital of Baton Rouge on December 11. The three daily flights will use 50-seat regional jets. Delta Air Lines chief executive Leo Mullin has come to the startling conclusion that airline fares "create massive confusion and a widespread sense of unfairness." Mullin made his remarks just before Thanksgiving in a speech in New York. Northwest Airlines says it will now fly daily between its Minneapolis hub and Honolulu all year round. The airline has previously restricted the flights to winter months. What's the value of a business traveler's time? Forty dollars an hour, according to a report from a website called According to SurveyCafe, frequent flyers are willing to pay $40 each way for every hour of reduction in flight time.

WEEKLY WONDERS: Big Deals in the Big Apple
It case you haven't noticed, hotel prices are astronomically high in New York. Worse, you often can't get a room at those stratospheric prices on many nights. But business in the Big Apple slumps after December 15 and room occupancy and room rates drop off during the first quarter. As a result, two hotels off the beaten Manhattan track have already announced their off-season deals. The 80-suite/20-room Avalon (888-HI-AVALON) in Midtown near Herald Square is offering "Winter White Sale" rates of $175 a night for rooms and $199 for junior suites. The rates are valid from January 8 to March 31. Meanwhile, the budget-priced Malibu (800-647-2227), on Manhattan's Upper West Side near Columbia University, has posted rates as low as $79 a night through March.

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