The Tactical Traveler

FOR MAY 16 TO MAY 23, 2002


This week: Alternate airlines continue to expand low-fare service; Montreal gives up on Mirabel Airport; St. Regis will assume management of The Lanesborough in London; Lufthansa is trying all-business-class service on its Newark-Dusseldorf route; and Argentina's financial crisis means a change in travel patterns.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: The Other Guys Keep Expanding
The major carriers continue to struggle, but the alternate airlines continue to find niches to fill. American Trans Air says it will launch four daily flights between its hub at Chicago/Midway and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Service begins August 15 and introductory one-way fares start at $69. ... National Airlines is expanding from its Las Vegas hub. On August 1, it will resume nonstop flights to Washington/Reagan National Airport and begin nonstop service to Washington/Dulles. Then, on October 3, it will begin intra-Nevada service with four daily flights to Reno/Tahoe. ... And out in Hawaii, Aloha Airlines continues its mainland expansion. It will launch previously announced Honolulu-Burbank and Honolulu-Vancouver nonstop flights next month, then follow up with new service to Maui. On July 2, it launches service from Phoenix to Kahului, Maui, via John Wayne/Orange County. On November 1, it launches nonstops between Vancouver and Maui. Finally, Burbank-Maui nonstops begin early next year.

AIRPORT REPORT: Montreal Gives Up on Mirabel
Mirabel, the airport Montreal opened in time for the financially disastrous 1976 Summer Olympic games, will no longer handle passenger traffic. The few remaining passenger flights will be transferred to Dorval, the city's older airport. Mirabel was supposed to be Montreal's major airport, but neither passengers nor airlines liked the distant facility and now the failing airport will be totally devoted to cargo flights. ... Vienna Airport is slowing its expansion plans and construction of a new terminal has been delayed. It still expects to open an express rail link to downtown Vienna by the end of next year, however. ... Speaking of rail links, a dead garter snake stalled construction last week of the BART train extension to San Francisco International. ... French officials are beginning to wonder whether Paris needs a third airport after all. The project, planned for an area of the Somme region, has already been controversial because it would disturb the graves of hundreds of soldiers killed during World War I. Now new government transport officials appointed after this month's resignation of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin are questioning the financial and aeronautic necessity of the project.

IN THE LOBBY: A Big Shift in London Luxury
You don't see this often: One of London's most exclusive hotels, The Lanesborough, is switching management on May 29. Located on Hyde Park Corner, the swanky, 95-room property has been managed by Rosewood Hotels since it opened ten years ago, but now will be run by St. Regis, the deluxe brand of the Starwood family. ... The Embassy Suites hotel in New York's Battery Park City has reopened for business. The 463-suite property, located just a few steps from Ground Zero, has been closed since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11. ... The Tides Inn, a 105-room hotel on 480 acres on the Chesapeake Bay, has reopened after a renovation and modernization. The property is about an hour from Richmond, Virginia, and about three hours from the District of Columbia.

INTERNATIONAL ITINERARY: Lufthansa Tries Small-Jet Service
Keep your eyes on this one: When it resumes nonstop Newark-Dusseldorf flights on June 17, Lufthansa will offer only business-class seats. But that's not all of it: The route will be flown with a 48-seat Boeing 737 Business Jet operated by PrivatAir, a European executive-charter service. When Lufthansa flew the route before September 11, the German carrier was using a 250-seat Airbus A340 traditionally configured with 250 first-, business- and coach-class seats. There will be six weekly flights. ... Varig is reinstating its nonstop flights from New York/Kennedy to Rio de Janeiro on July 4. There will be four weekly flights.

TRAVEL WARNING: Economic Chaos Continues in Argentina
The deteriorating financial situation in Argentina means you'll need to adjust your travel patterns. Although street demonstrations continue, they have been peaceful in recent weeks. The issue for business travelers: currency. Banks and ATMs around the nation were closed, then reopened and now run irregular hours. It may be difficult or impossible to exchange traveler's checks or use credit cards. The best advice: Carry copious amounts of U.S. currency in small denominations. The U.S. dollar remains the only hard currency in the troubled country.

This column originally appeared at

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