The Tactical Traveler



This week: JetBlue and Southwest bring their low fares to new cities; New Orleans names its airport after Satchmo; Los Angeles covers up art at LAX; how alternate carriers broke the US Airways monopoly in Buffalo; new hotels keep opening despite the economic slump; a call for a two-drink limit on flights; and much more.

ALTERNATE ITINERARY: More Low-Fare Service from Southwest and JetBlue
Two new cities are due for relief from high fares and major-carrier arrogance this fall. Effective October 7, Southwest Airlines pitches its tent at Norfolk International Airport in Virginia. There will be seven daily nonstops to Baltimore/Washington International; two each to Jacksonville and Orlando in Florida; and a daily nonstop to Las Vegas. The fares tell the story: Southwest's walk-up fare between Norfolk and BWI is pegged at $69 one way. The current BWI-Norfolk fare: $296 one way. The next day, JetBlue Airways makes it first foray from its New York/Kennedy hub by launching transcontinental flights from Washington/Dulles. There will be one daily all-coach roundtrip to Oakland and one to Long Beach. One-way fares start as low as $129. The unrestricted walk-up fare on both routes is $299 one-way, about 75 percent less than current prices. And as previously announced, JetBlue launched Kennedy-New Orleans flights yesterday and Kennedy-Long Beach service begins on August 29.

CONNECTIONS: Airport News You Need to Know
Embassy Suites has converted the former Rosemont Suites near Chicago/O'Hare airport. The 296-suite property is about two miles from the airport. New Orleans International will be officially renamed after Louis Armstrong at an airport ceremony on August 2, two days before the 100th anniversary of the birth of the jazz legend known as Satchmo. An art display featuring male nudes is causing a flap at the American Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International. The sandblasted granite slabs were finished about three weeks ago, but promptly covered up after some traveler complaints. City and airport officials are expected to decide next week whether the art will be uncovered or removed. The city's Cultural Affairs Commission approved preliminary sketches of the work by artist Susan Narduli.

CYBERTRAVELER: The Best News from Buffalo Since Hot Wings
Business travelers sometimes wonder if low-fare and alternate carriers can really transform the competitive landscape. A resounding affirmative answer has posted in recent days at the Buffalo News website. As reporter Kevin Collison explained in his first report, New York's second-largest city was a hostage of US Airways' high fares and sporadic service. Since the arrival of alternate carriers such as JetBlue, Vanguard, and Southwest, however, traffic at Buffalo Niagara Airport is booming, fares have plummeted and flight options have dramatically improved.

IN THE LOBBY: The New Hotels Keep Coming
The economy has cooled down, but there are a lot of new hotels in the construction pipeline that can't be stopped. Prime example: London, where the business-travel slump and weak leisure travel due to fears about foot-and-mouth disease has devastated business in the last year. Into this chilly climate come the Renaissance London Chancery Court and The Trafalgar. The 357-room Renaissance in London's legal district is housed in an historic building that served as the headquarters of an insurance company until 1989. The 129-room Trafalgar, on Trafalgar Square, is a boutique hotel, but it is created and managed by Hilton International. Ritz-Carlton has opened a 402-room oceanfront resort on Key Biscayne, about 25 minutes from Miami International Airport. Introductory rates start at $139 for American Express cardholders and $195 for others. The 425-room Elliott Grand Hyatt Seattle has opened with a full spread of high-tech amenities. Introductory prices are $235 a night.

ON THE FLY: Inflight Drinking and Airline Psychology
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has written to seven U.S. airlines asking them to voluntarily impose a two-drink limit on passengers. "I know alcohol is not the only reason for air rage," she explained, "but I believe limiting its consumption is the first step to help ensure the skies are safe for both passengers and crew." Feinstein says she will try to legislate a two-drink limit if airlines don't adopt voluntary restrictions. Meanwhile, on a topic that may or may not be related, Thai Airways is desperately seeking a president and is advertising in the Bangkok Post. The state-owned airline is seeking a "psychologically sound" candidate who has "competency and experience in managing a huge organization." No president of a U.S. airline is expected to apply. Of course, none may be qualified given those stringent requirements.

THE WEEKLY WONDER: Your Last Night in Paris
The Hyatt Regency at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris has a brilliant promotion that should serve as a blueprint for every decent airport hotel around the world. The property's Last Night in Paris package includes: limousine transfer for you and your luggage from center-city Paris; a bottle of Billecart Salmon Rose Champagne; free access to the hotel's fitness center and indoor pool; overnight accommodations in a Regency Club room or executive suite; breakfast the next morning and limo transfer to your departure terminal. Package prices through December 31 start at $305 a night. For more information, call Hyatt at 800-233-1234.

This column originally appeared at

Copyright 1993-2004 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.