The Tactical Traveler



This week: Airports scale back their expansion plans; fare sales at the nation's alternate carriers; the Concorde resumes service next month; airlines sharply reduce routes to Japan; United's cutbacks will impact the flights of 90 percent of its customers in November and December; and Alaska and Hawaiian airlines forge a code-share and frequent-flyer link.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Airports Scale Back Expansion Plans
It was only a few months ago that the nation's airlines were stridently demanding taxpayers build them more airports and more runways to accommodate their overblown, inefficient hub-and-spoke networks. Not only won't the carriers' be getting any future expansion, the airlines' rush to slash flights after September 11 has led many airports to reassess their current construction projects. Phoenix, for example, has stopped work on a proposed $1.2 billion expansion. Charlotte is delaying its expansion and has stopped planning a fourth runway. San Francisco International has shelved plans for a renovation of its domestic terminal. Minneapolis is mulling a delay for a new runway that was originally scheduled to open in December, 2003. And Los Angeles mayor James Hahn last week formally abandoned his proposal for a massive expansion of Los Angeles International. He now supports a radically downsized renovation. On the flip side, projects at Lambert in St. Louis and Metro in Detroit continue and American Airlines says it will speed up by several months the construction of its new terminal at New York's Kennedy Airport.

ALTERNATE ITINERARY: A Weekly Look at America's Other Carriers
Spirit Airlines has launched a fast sale from Chicago/O'Hare to its four Florida destinations: Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Fort Myers, and Tampa. Fares start at $158 roundtrip for travel between November 8 and December 13, but tickets must be purchased by Monday, October 22. Las Vegas-based National Airlines, which was struggling in bankruptcy protection even before the events of September 11, continues to slash prices. Its current sale offers fares as low as $68 roundtrip. First-class fares have been reduceded 40 percent during the sale, which runs until October 28. Travel on the fares is valid until February 13. Effective November 1, JetBlue Airways drops one of its two daily flights between Los Angeles/Ontario and its New York/Kennedy hub. Southwest has cut 38 daily departures, most of them on its highest-frequency routes, to accommodate its launch of service from Norfolk.

CONCORDE COMEBACK: Short Schedules, Discount Prices
It's been grounded for more than a year since the fiery Air France crash, but the needle-nosed Concorde makes its comeback next month. British Airways and Air France, the plane's lone operators, have pegged November 7 as the re-start date for the world's only supersonic passenger plane. The routes will be the same--between London/Heathrow and New York/Kennedy for BA and between Paris/Charles de Gaulle and Kennedy for Air France--but the schedules will be sharply reduced. BA plans a Concorde roundtrip each day except Saturday and Air France will operate only five times weekly. British Airways has also announced a special Concorde return fare of $4,999 roundtrip for tickets purchased by Monday. For more information on that offer, check our new Steals&Deals page.

CYBERTRAVELER: The Crisis, in Salmon
Few business journals can equal the reporting that appears on the salmon-covered pages of the Financial Times and the British daily has done extraordinary work following the strands of the current contraction in the global airline industry. Even if you don't see the paper every day, you can still catch up with the excellent coverage, all neatly bundled in one place, at the FT's Airline Crisis web page (

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Another new and bizarre regulation for travelers headed to Washington's National airport: no standing during the last 30 minutes of the flight. Pilots have been told not to land if any passenger refuses to sit. Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines have cut a code-sharing deal. The two carriers have also linked their frequent-flyer programs. Alaska's network and Hawaiian's mainland service meet at several points along the West Coast. A second W Hotel has opened in Chicago. Alitalia has joined the Delta SkyMiles program. Hoping to capitalize on the uncertain status of cash-starved Swissair, American Airlines will launch New York/Kennedy-Zurich route beginning October 28. There will be one daily roundtrip using three-class Boeing 767s. Air Canada launched a trans-border fare sale Thursday morning. Tickets must be purchased by October 30 for travel through February 28.

SAYONARA: More Cuts on Japanese Routes
Airlines continue to slash routes around the world and service between the United States and Japan is taking a disproportionately large hit. Delta Air Lines, for example, is all but abandoning its Japanese service. The formerly "suspended" route between New York/Kennedy and Tokyo is now permanently gone. And, effective December 1, Delta will drop its flights from Los Angeles to both Tokyo and Nagoya. All that remains is Delta's daily flights to Tokyo from its Atlanta hub. Meanwhile, All Nippon Airways is cutting about 20 percent of its U.S.-Japan flights on November 1. That will be accomplished by merging its existing Tokyo nonstop flights to both Chicago/O'Hare and Washington/Dulles into a single daily Dulles-O'Hare-Tokyo flight. And, as previously announced, ANA will also drop its Nagoya-Honolulu service. Over at Japan Airlines, there will be a temporary 24 percent cut in U.S.-Japanese flights. The carrier will drop its Tokyo-Dallas/Fort Worth flights, its Nagoya-Los Angeles service and its Osaka-Chicago/O'Hare route.

THE UNITED WAY: Flying the Unraveling Skies
Leave it to United to make its service cuts extra-difficult on its customers. The airline's revised schedule, which goes into effect on October 31, will affect about 90 percent of the reservations already booked for travel in November in December. That means United will have to contact more than 5 million customers about a change in their existing travel arrangements. How many of those customers do you think will be missed as United unravels its network? A word to the wise: If you've got reservations on an upcoming United flight, then call now and inquire about the status of your itinerary. By the way, a large number of United's cuts affect departures previously scheduled before 7am and after 7pm.

This column originally appeared at

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