The Tactical Traveler

FOR JUNE 6 TO JUNE 13, 2002


This week: Beware long delays at O'Hare this summer; another discount carrier launches in Canada; Frontier simplifies its standby policies; Regus offers free membership in its worldwide business-center network; and a new survey explodes the myths about business travel.

They are each burning through $5 million a day and consistently racking up double-digit traffic declines. So what are United and American airlines, the bumbling behemoths of O'Hare, doing to fix their problems? Adding flights, of course. Locked in an internecine market-share war at O'Hare, both airlines have returned to their pre-September 11 flight levels. And that all but guarantees long delays at the nation's most important hub this summer. In fact, the flight buildup at O'Hare is already taking its toll. According to Transportation Department figures released this week, O'Hare slipped into the bottom five of the nation's busiest airports for both on-time arrivals and departures in April. Between 6 and 9 p.m., for example, more than one in three flights arrived late during the month. My best tip: Avoid O'Hare if you can in the coming months.

ALTERNATE ARRANGEMENTS: A New/Old Discount Carrier in Canada
Last week it was Michel Leblanc, the former owner of Royal Airlines, announcing he was launching a new discount carrier in Canada. This week it is Kenneth Rowe, the founder of CanJet, who says his discount carrier will resume flying on June 20. Rowe says the revived CanJet will use 120-seat Boeing 737s to fly between Toronto, Halifax and St. John's. ... Frontier Airlines has relaxed its standby policy. For a flat $100 fee--with no change charges or fare increases--Frontier passengers will be permitted to stand by for flights on the return leg of their itineraries. ... American Trans Air is expanding in Indianapolis. Beginning September 16, the carrier will fly twice-daily nonstops to New York/LaGuardia and a daily nonstop to Phoenix.

CYBERTRAVELER: Renting by the Hour Around the World
It's the bane of all business travelers: You've got a couple of hours between meetings on the road, but you've got nowhere to go and nowhere to work. To the rescue comes Regus, the world's leading short-term office firm, which operates 400 business centers in 50 cities around the world. Travelers who sign up for the Regus Global Membership card will get a raft of perks: free use of the lounges and cybercafes in each business center; the ability to rent fully equipped private offices for as little as $50 for half a day; and meeting-room rentals for as little as $5 per person per hour. Best of all, Regus Global Membership is free until August 31 and you can sign up at the Regus Website. I consider this program indispensable, the urban equivalent of an airport-lounge network. And how can you afford not to join--especially when Regus is giving away membership! And when you join, tell 'em "Joe Sent Me!"

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Exploding the Myths About Business Travelers
A new survey of frequent flyers released this week by the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) explodes some hoary myths about our opinions about life on the road. First myth exploded: We're only staying home because it's a hassle to fly since September 11. More than 70 percent of the travelers responding to the survey said expensive fares were an important or very important reason for our reduction of travel. Second myth exploded: We'll eventually come back to the major carriers. An astounding 81 percent of the survey participants said that, on average, 24 percent of their flying reductions would be permanent. Third myth exploded: We fly because we have no alternatives. Nearly 40 percent of the respondents said they have replaced some air travel with automobile or train travel. Fifth myth exploded: We don't care about cost. Survey participants said business fares would have to drop about 25 percent before their air travel would increase. I could go on forever, but why not read the survey results for yourself. Although the survey sells for $195, BTC chairman Kevin Mitchell has generously offered to send complimentary copies to readers. To receive your free copy in electronic form, send an E-mail to and type "survey" in the subject line.

MILES & POINTS: What You Need to Know About Your Programs
In another effort to strong-arm JetBlue Airways, which is growing quickly on transcontinental routes, American Airlines is offering double AAdvantage miles on its new New York/Kennedy-Long Beach flights. The bonus is available from June 15 through September 15. You must register in advance (use promo code NYLGB) to earn the bonus. ... To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Star Alliance, member carriers are offering a 55,000-mile bonus if you fly five of the airlines by July 7. A Website has popped up that claims to offer some shortcuts to the bonus.

This column originally appeared at

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