The Tactical Traveler

FOR AUGUST 23 TO 30, 2001


This week: Desperate airlines won't lower fares, but are inventing creative promotions; our weekly look at America's alternative carriers; Marriott ends its energy surcharges; Hyatt upgrades its Business Plan rates; Concorde may soon return to the skies; Korea's carriers take a safety hit; strange tales of sex at the airport; and much more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Desperation Is the Mother of Creativity
Major airlines are desperate to stimulate business travel this fall, but, as you've probably noticed, they are also loathe to lower fares. So their desperation has led to a few creative attempts to get your attention and your business. Two of the more interesting promotions: Northwest Airlines is permitting up to 5,000 bonus miles awarded by non-flight partners to count toward the mileage needed to attain 2002 WorldPerks Elite status. And Cathay Pacific is giving a Compaq pocket computer to full-fare premium-class passengers who fly from North America to Hong Kong between September 1 and November 15. Many other carriers are offering special deals, so check your frequent-flyer statements and airline websites extra carefully for the promotions.

ALTERNATE ITINERARY: Our Weekly Look at America's Other Carriers
AirTran Airways is giving up on service between Pittsburgh and New York/LaGuardia. Flights end on September 3. The route "never got close to the level of passenger development we needed," an AirTran spokesman told me this week. "Frankly, we're surprised." Separately, AirTran is adding a fourth daily flight between Pittsburgh and its hub in Atlanta. And speaking of AirTran, the carrier launched a fare sale for travel between August 28 and January 16. Sample fares: $75 between Atlanta and Houston/Hobby or Minneapolis; and $80 between Atlanta and Boston, Chicago/Midway, Newark or New York/LaGuardia. Fares require a 7-day advance purchase, but no Saturday-night stay. Tickets must be purchased by August 28. Vanguard Airlines has consolidated its Kansas City hub at Gates 16 to 20 in Terminal A.

IN THE LOBBY: So Long, Surcharges
says it will eliminate the energy surcharges at all hotels on August 31. Hilton said two weeks ago that its energy charges would end on September 1. Speaking of Marriott, the chain is trying to pump up the weekend volume at its various hotel brands this fall. The Rewarding Weekend promotion offers a free weekend night for any three weekend nights purchased between September 14 and December 23. Visit the Marriott Rewards site to register and view restrictions. Hyatt has enhanced its Business Plan rate for stays through December 30. The program, priced at $10-$20 above standard rates, has always included amenities such as in-room fax/copier/printer, continental breakfast and free access for toll-free calls. Daily Business Plan rates now also include a 15-minute AT&T phone card and a voucher valid for a free American breakfast for two or 25 percent off lunch or dinner.

ON THE FLY: Airline News You Need to Know
United Airlines has opened an 18,000-square-foot Red Carpet Club in the North terminal at San Francisco International. The facility has 52 workstations equipped with laptop power and modem connections, a business center and three conference rooms. Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific have announced that they will add lie-flat beds to their business-class cabins during the next 12 months. SAS Scandinavian has run into a regulatory roadblock on its road to acquire Braathens, its largest Norwegian competitor. Norwegian regulators say they won't allow the acquisition based on a preliminary look at the situation.

SAFETY WATCH: Concorde Return Nears, Korea on the Ropes
More than a year after a fiery crash grounded the Concorde fleets operated by British Airways and Air France, the aging supersonic plane may soon be certified to fly again. After a series of modifications--including strengthened fuel tanks and new tires--both British and French authorities seem convinced that the world's only commercial supersonic transport is now safe. Passenger flights could resume by late October. Fourteen months after a series of crashes led the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate safety standards in South Korea, the U.S. agency this week finally determined that the Asian nation's civil-aviation authority does not meet international standards. The decision does not force Korea's two international carriers, Korean Air and Asiana, to abandon existing flights to the United States, but it bars any code-sharing with U.S. airlines. That led American Airlines to immediately terminate its code-share arrangement with Asiana and ended any chance that Korean Air would resume its code-share with Delta Air Lines. In response to the U.S. move, Korea fired its transport minister.

SEX AND THE AIRPORT: Gee, That Wasn't on the Signboard
Israeli police last week said they found a naked German woman prowling the parking facility at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport looking for sex. The police said the "beautiful blonde" had time to kill before flying home, so she decided to have sex with passing men. Meanwhile, a Malaysian politician complained last week that prostitutes are propositioning travelers as soon as they arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. "I do not want [the airport] to become popular as a place to get fun via sex," complained Senator Ghazi Ramli.

This column originally appeared at

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