The Tactical Traveler



This week: Major developments at the airports in Washington, Los Angeles and Newark; three luxury hotel chains expand their reach; airlines extend their double-mile offers; Delta introduces web-based award redemption; and an update on airline safety and security issues.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Airports
The country's attention is understandably focused on air strikes and anthrax, but, for business travelers, the action is at the nation's large airports. In Washington, for example, the second phase of the reopening of National Airport is due to begin tomorrow, October 26. Eighteen more cities will get flights to National and USAirways is gearing up for a return to hourly service on its New York/LaGuardia-Washington/National shuttle. At Los Angeles International, the roadways and parking structures in and around the Central Terminal Area have reopened for limited service. However, private cars headed to LAX will be required to proceed directly to, and park in, the garages. No curbside drop-off or pick-up from private vehicles is allowed. Finally, the long-awaited AirTrain station opened at Newark Airport last weekend. It connects Newark's intra-airport monorail with Amtrak trains heading north to New York and south to Philadelphia and Washington. It also links the monorail with local trains servicing many suburban New Jersey communities. The one-way fare for the 20-minute ride to Manhattan's Penn Station is $11.15. For more information on these airport developments, see the Cybertraveler section below.

CYBERTRAVELER: Keeping Up With the Airport News
News is breaking so fast at the nation's major airports that media outlets are having trouble keeping up with developments. To check the details of Washington National's second tranche of flight restorations, consult the airport's website. There is a list of new cities being served and complete security details. To familiarize yourself on the use of automobiles in and around Los Angeles International, check the specific rules at the LAX website. Finally, for an overview of the new inter-modal transit opportunities at Newark, consult the AirTrain, Amtrak or New Jersey Transit websites.

IN THE LOBBY: Hotel News You Need to Know
A 163-room Westin hotel opened in Dublin earlier this month. Guests will earn double Starwood Preferred points for stays until December 31. Four Seasons is expanding in South America by reflagging two existing properties. The luxury chain has taken over management of the 165-room Park Hyatt Buenos Aires and is also assuming operational control of the Madison Resort in Carmelo, Uruguay. The ownership of the once-vaunted Rockresorts name has changed hands again and now the brand will be slapped on five properties in Vail, Colorado. In a separate deal, the company that bought Rockresorts also acquired the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage in the California Desert and will rebrand it with the Rockresorts name. Speaking of luxury hotels, Starwood has turned management of its fast-growing St. Regis chain over to a group of experienced luxury hoteliers who once ran the super-deluxe Rosewood hotels group.

MILES & POINTS: More Chances to Earn More Miles
As business travelers continue to stay home, the airlines continue to fiddle with their frequent-flyer programs. Most notable: the industry-wide double-mile offers, originally intended to expire on November 15, have been extended until December 15. All carriers require you to register in advance for the promotions, however. Continental and Air France are parting ways on March 31, so you'll no longer get OnePass miles for Air France flights. Beginning December 1, however, Continental flyers will be able to earn miles on KLM Royal Dutch flights. Delta SkyMiles members can now claim award travel and book tickets online at the Delta website. The Choice hotel chain has joined both the US Airways Dividend Miles program and the American AAdvantage program. Among the Choice lodging brands: Comfort, Clarion, EconoLodge, Quality and Rodeway. Even after a recent upgrade, the Northwest Airlines international business-class product lags far behind the offerings of its major competitors. Northwest's response: 10,000 bonus miles for each qualifying international business-class roundtrip completed by December 30. You must register for the promotion by November 30 at the Northwest website.

SAFETY WATCH: Assessing Blame and Levying Fines
The National Transportation Safety Board released its final report on the American Airlines crash at Little Rock in 1999. As expected, the NTSB blamed the flight crew for its attempted landing in stormy weather. But the board also said fatigue played a part in the accident that killed more than 100 and again recommended changes in pilot duty-time rules. The airlines have resisted all attempts to reduce the length of pilot work days. The Federal Aviation Administration wants to fine America West more than $650,000 for safety violations that allegedly affected thousands of America West flights between November 1997 and September 2000. America West officials say they will contest the fines. The airline's rationale: America West finally got around to cleaning up its act earlier this year. Solomon Airlines, which flies in the South Pacific, has been grounded for safety violations discovered by Australian regulators. Air Canada says box cutters were found on an aircraft scheduled to fly from Toronto to New York on the morning of September 11. The plane never took off because U.S. airspace was closed after the quadruple hijackings. Box cutters were among the weapons authorities believe terrorists used to hijack the jets.

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