The Tactical Traveler



This week: San Francisco opens its $1 billion International Terminal; fare sales at America's alternate airlines; Amtrak launches a frequent-rider program; Legend Airlines goes bust; Howard Johnson goes back to the future in Boston; and Hyatt cuts rates for the last two weeks of the month.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: San Francisco Starts the Big Shift
After months of testing and tweaking, San Francisco International's soaring new International Terminal officially opens for business on Sunday, December 10. The airport's 24 international airlines have been shifting flights into the 1.8-million-square-foot terminal throughout the week and the final carriers move in over the weekend. The initial verdict on the $1 billion project: lovely and serene architecture featuring acres of glass, metal and cherry-wood paneling; spectacular dining facilities reflecting the Bay Area's ethnic diversity; somewhat confusing traffic patterns; and signs that are too discreet for practicality. Worst idea at the terminal: the bewildering decision to offer only English-language signs, thus disenfranchising many of the terminal's passengers. For the record, the facility has 24 departure gates located on two concourses; 168 check-in counters; a museum; and an interfaith chapel. What's not yet ready? The station for the planned extension of the BART rapid-transit system and the airport's own AirTrain inter-terminal system. Both should be completed next year.

ALTERNATE AGENDA: Fare Sale at America's Other Carriers
You have to act by midnight tomorrow (December 8) to take advantage of the fare sale at Midwest Express, the upscale, all-coach carrier. Nonstop prices range from $77 to $152 one-way and are valid for travel between January 6 and March 31. Fares require a 14-day advance and round-trip purchase and a Friday or Saturday stay. You've got to move even faster--in other words, by end of business today, December 7--to cash in on the fare sale at AirTran Airways. One-way fares range from $39 to $129 and are valid for travel until March 14. Fares require a 7-day advance purchase. You've got all the time in the world--well, until December 13--to get a "Sixth Anniversary" fare from Vanguard Airlines. Prices range from $36 to $126 one-way and are valid for travel until April 30. A two-day advance purchase and round-trip purchase are required.

IN THE LOBBY: Lodging News of Note for Business Travelers
Mandarin Oriental has opened a 329-room hotel on Brickell Key in Miami. Portions of its $100 million structure are still under construction and the official grand opening isn't scheduled until March 31. However, early-bird guests are being offered a $180 nightly rate. For more information, call 866-888-6780. CP Hotels is rebranding all its Canadian properties with the Fairmont name. CP purchased a two-thirds stake in Fairmont last year. W Hotels has converted the historic Guardian Life building in New York into a 270-room boutique property. The hotel is near Manhattan's Union Square Park and the "Silicon Alley" neighborhood. Loews Hotels has taken over management of The Jefferson in Washington, DC. The 100-room hotel at 16th and M streets was built in 1923. The 416-room Hanalei Hotel in the Mission Valley area of San Diego is now operating as a Red Lion Hotel. It's back to the future at Howard Johnson. The 132-room Howard Johnson-Boston Bayside on Morrissey Boulevard in Boston is located on the exact site where the first Howard Johnson restaurant opened in 1935.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Legend Airlines, the luxury carrier based at Dallas/Love Field, has stopped flying and filed for bankruptcy protection. The carrier waged a bitter, three-year legal battle to launch service from Love and was immediately matched by American Airlines when it finally began flying in April. Legend had lost about $45 million when it abruptly grounded its fleet of 56-seat DC-9s on Saturday. Airline executives say they hope to resume flying after locating additional financing. Meanwhile, American, which has already added legroom to every seat in its narrow-body fleet, now will increase overhead bin space on its MD-80s, Boeing 757s and Fokker 100s. The retrofit begins in January. After plummeting to about 84 cents earlier this year, the battered Euro is staging something of a rally. It has been trading near the 90-cent mark in recent days, boosting the value of all 11 European currencies tied to it. Of course, "rally" is a relative term. The proto-currency was introduced at $1.13 in January, 1999, and once traded as high as $1.17. ... After years of claiming it couldn't legally launch a frequent-rider program, Amtrak finally has launched a frequent-rider program. Dubbed Amtrak Guest Rewards, the program begins January 1. Partners include United and Continental airlines, the Hilton, Starwood and Marriott hotel chains, and Hertz. For more details and to enroll online, check the Amtrak's new Guest Rewards website.

WEEKLY WONDER: Hyatt's Two-Week Holiday Bonanza
Business is dreadfully slow for big-city hotels between December 15 and December 30 and Hyatt Hotels has reacted with a two-week sale at 99 U.S. and Canadian properties. Sample prices: $89 a night at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix; $159 at the Grand Hyatt New York; $79 at the Hyatt Sarasota; and $129 at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia. For more information and reservations, call 877-557-5368; ask for offer code FALALA.

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