The Tactical Traveler for 2003

joe Year-End Briefing for Business Travelers
The outlook for business travel next year: Expect more chaos and cutbacks at the Big Six; clear sailing for the nation's fast-growing alternate airlines; a slew of interesting, long-haul international routes; huge growth of high-speed access and automated check-in kiosks at the nation's hotels; and much more.

December 11 Briefing for Business Travelers
Fares will be coming down in Boston and Philadelphia; Kennedy Airport finally gets its rail link; the holiday hotel blues in New York and Hawaii; JetBlue's startling statistics; Lufthansa is rolling out a new business class; Mesaba pilots enter a 30-day cooling off period; and more.

December 4 Briefing for Business Travelers
The Airbus A340-500 debuts with startling in-flight configurations from Emirates and Singapore airlines; Alaska Airlines cuts food service; AirTran will match your elite frequent-flyer credentials; the cost of letting the bedbugs bite; notable hotels open in London, Houston and Turin, Italy; the dollar tanks in Europe again; labor versus management at US Airways' hub in Philadelphia; and much more.

November 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
Don't switch cellphone carriers just yet; the kindness of strangers on the road; the dollar plummets on currency markets; United's Ted may be the airline industry's Edsel; the Le Meridien hotel chain implodes; a rash of major frequent-flyer program changes; graphic proof of the insanity of the Big Six fare structure; and much more.

November 13 Briefing for Business Travelers
Luggage locks that pass TSA muster are now on sale; AirTran is expanding at DFW; an airport named Bob and an airline named Ted; Marriott won't offer Web-only room rates; Delta moves its old Shuttle planes (and their extra coach legroom) to the heartland; and much more.

November 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
The hotel card key scare; Northwest and Air Canada fiddle with their frequent-flyer plans; Spirit Airlines adds more flights; Hilton says we're not getting enough sleep on the road; Continental's complaint rate is almost double the industry average; and much more.

October 30 Briefing for Business Travelers
Southwest takes on US Airways in Philadelphia; two new business-travel columns launch; why Song has no songs--and no TVs--on its planes; the Candlewood Suites chain changes hands; Midway Airlines folds; another French pilot says the b-word at security; and much more.

October 23 Briefing for Business Travelers
Delta raises mileage requirements for many SkyMiles awards; job actions will disrupt service on several international airlines; screener turnover rates tumble; America West's chief executive says taxpayers could profit from the airline's loan guarantee; brain-dead dinosaur airlines respond to Congressional criticism; the SkyHigh Airlines site is hilarious--and awfully close to reality; and much more.

October 16 Briefing for Business Travelers
Singapore Airlines announces ultra-long Los Angeles-Singapore nonstops with a creative new two-class configuration; AirTran expands in Washington while Delta contracts in Salt Lake City; a watery Las Vegas icon closes; United offers double elite miles--if you pay for them; and much more.

October 9 Briefing for Business Travelers
US Airways blinks in Pittsburgh; JetBlue adds Boston service; Northwest contracts in Memphis; Amtrak scales back Acela service; a slew of new bonus-mile promotions; strange doings at airport security; an airline apologist in Congress admits the Big Six are "brain dead;" and much more.

September 25 Briefing for Business Travelers
In this report: Miami's hotel glut; JetBlue bails on CAPPS II; more food options and hotel rooms at the airport; two airlines yield on elite frequent-flyer rules; strikes planned on the Heathrow Express; a luxury bus plans service between New York and Boston; "wisdom" from an airline CEO; and much more.

September 18 Briefing for Business Travelers
Hurricane Isabel scrambles travel; two hotel chains change names; a fare war breaks out Down Under; Alaska Airlines slashes frequent-flyer program benefits, too; JetBlue gets tangled up in CAPPS II; US Airways finally retreats on the use-it-or-lose-it rule; knives return to the skies; and much more.

September 11 Briefing for Business Travelers
American eliminates legroom while JetBlue enlarges its seat pitch; traffic disruptions at Atlanta and Newark airports; the fall frequent-stay promotions have arrived; words of "wisdom" from two airline chief executives; and more.

September 4 Briefing for Business Travelers
Major changes at airports around the world; Hampton Inn opens in Manhattan; United offers full-fare upgrades to Mileage Plus elite flyers; Hilton HHonors and Priority Club kick off the fall promotion season; Midwest Express exits the city it was created to serve; the dollar is on a rampage against the euro; and much more.

August 28 Briefing for Business Travelers
Some high-fare routes you'd be wise to avoid; Starwood slashes elite-level benefits; airlines won't be flying to Iraq anytime soon; London's May Fair hotel changes hands; US Airways is the last holdout on use-it-or-lose-it tickets; inter-island fares skyrocket in Hawaii; and much more.

August 21 Briefing for Business Travelers
Transportation Department statistics reveal the nation's worst carrier; low-fare carriers expand everywhere; fighting CAPPS II again; new hotels open in New Orleans and Budapest; Emirates is slowly making its way to the USA; Southwest now carries more domestic travelers than any airline; Northwest upgrades its business class; airlines are backing off the "use it or lose it" rule; and much more.

August 7 Briefing for Business Travelers
Life after hubs in St. Louis; United is adrift; there's a surge in flights to Mexico; several Marriott brands will offer free, high-speed Internet access; US Airways adds first-class seats to East Coast shuttle flights; more scrutiny for laptops at screening checkpoints; Delta's chief doesn't fly the competition; and much more.

July 31 Briefing for Business Travelers
A disturbing week on the security front; the British mania for beach huts; the Le Meridien hotel chain is disintegrating; a warning on September travel to Cancun; United and Delta part company on frequent-flyer plans and lounge access; Alaska raises checked-bag fees; a museum looks back at Pan Am; and more.

July 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
America West profits from its lower, simpler fares; a bad week for BA in London and Northwest in Memphis; long lines and delayed flights at Chicago/Midway; more U.S.-Canada flights are on the way; Austrian Airlines makes Vienna an Eastern European hub; more airlines interline E-tix; and much more.

July 17 Briefing for Business Travelers
Public charters are back--and as unreliable as ever; the Chicago Tribune sees no evil at the top levels of United; why the middle seats are full on all your flights; new hotels open in Warsaw, Niagara Falls and Silicon Valley; international carriers shuffle routes; Delta adds more Hawaii service; MedJet Assistance adds short-term plans; British Airways launches a Concorde souvenir Web site; and much more.

July 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
JetBlue adds legroom in coach and WestJet adds in-flight TV; American lowers--and raises--fares on four transcon routes; Hong Kong is getting its flights back; New Jersey is adding a hotel tax; several fancy hotels are changing management; McDonald's adds Wi-Fi; Hilton tests business-travel performance; and much more.

June 26 Briefing for Business Travelers
Delta cuts business fares in Salt Lake City; a German company offers four days of clothes in its own luggage; hotels keep changing their flags; airlines increase service to Mexico; Lil' Kim loses her bling-bling at JFK Airport; Verizon stops fighting wireless-number portability; Virgin Atlantic dresses up its competition with British Airways; and much more.

June 19 Briefing for Business Travelers
SFO finally gets its BART mass-transit link; America West puts first class on sale and Southwest discounts Florida flights; Dilbert goes on a business trip; going shoeless at security; SkyWest is the nation's best commuter carrier; Naples, Florida, loses its air service; London gets another Edwardian hotel; and much more.

June 12 Briefing for Business Travelers
Midwest Express is dying; Paris' new airport terminal opens next week despite another strike; how the airlines have bungled in-flight food sales; Four Seasons reopens its Prague hotel; United changes its boarding procedures; when hotels imitate airline pricing; and much more.

June 5 Briefing for Business Travelers
United's phony "free ticket" offer; Houston opens a new terminal; a Paris hotel landmark reopens; a new airline will fly to Kabul, but Air Canada won't fly to Beirut; British Airways drops first class on three U.S. routes; Marriott Rewards upgrades its elite level; the Supreme Court allows a fare-fixing suit to proceed; and much more.

May 29 Briefing for Business Travelers
Airline schedule juggling continues to create havoc with frequent flyers; the dollar's drop against the euro means a 33 percent penalty for Europe travelers; airline corporate-governance outrages continue; a legendary New England resort reopens as a Marriott; Northwest increases check-in and boarding times; East Coast air shuttles resume hourly service; the Oneworld Alliance may be unraveling; and much more.

May 15 Briefing for Business Travelers
The dollar's plunge means international travel will be much more costly this summer; Detroit/Metro gets more food options and Philadelphia gets a Laptop Lane; somebody finally loves Song; Air Canada is grounding planes and slashing routes to the United States; Hertz adds the Prestige Collection at five more airports; Wyndham loses 27 hotels; and more.

May 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
Travelers, not the airlines, get the benefit of the upcoming security-tax holiday; Delta slashes Atlanta-LAX fares to compete with JetBlue and AirTran; Song still posts no compliments and gets another bad review; the strange saga of the hotel at 614 Canal Street in New Orleans; American jacks the paper-ticket fee to $50; and much more.

May 1 Briefing for Business Travelers
AirTran and JetBlue invade Delta's Atlanta-Los Angeles turf with low fares; Song still hasn't gotten any compliments; Marriott expands its flat-price program for high-speed Internet access and guestroom calls; airlines are adding and restoring international flights; Toronto's off the SARS no-fly list; and much more.

April 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
Carty quits as American Airlines chief executive as management and unions spar over concessions; Bromma Airport in Stockholm gets a new life after 40 years; does anyone like Delta's Song?; a raft of new hotels open; a SARS update; Amtrak cuts fares on some Acela Express trains; and much more.

April 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
British Airways and Air France will retire their Concorde jets; airlines continue cutting flights; the compass on Northwest's new "logo" actually points northeast at least half of the time; a new Minneapolis hotel will have 42-inch TVs in all guestrooms; Song launches low-fare flights next week; and much more.

April 3 Briefing for Business Travelers
A new airline bailout would cap the pay of the top bosses; SARS and the Iraq war lead to more schedule cutbacks; Air Canada slides into bankruptcy; Chicago's mayor secretly bulldozes Meigs Field; United and US Airways link award charts; and much more.

March 27 Briefing for Business Travelers
The annual spring/summer schedule changes and the Big Six' massive cutbacks will collide this weekend and next week; AirTran and JetBlue keep expanding; Continental gets its comeuppance in Cleveland; United is cutting back the perks of its Mileage Plus program; and much more.

March 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
Don't expect a "war discount" on flights and hotels during the Iraq war; United Airlines admits liquidation is a possibility; Midwest Express' auditor questions the airline's long-term viability; airlines reduce international flight schedules; National Car Rental offers pick-your-own rentals to online bookers; and much more.

March 13 Briefing for Business Travelers
Big-city hotels are now discounting aggressively; Delta bails on Dallas Love Field; the euro's rise dents U.S. travelers' wallets; Air Canada and Lufthansa expand transatlantic routes; AirTran adds an elite level to its frequent-flyer plan; and much more.

March 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
Delta digs itself a hole in the Los Angeles market; Raleigh-Durham adds a $3 passenger-facility charge and Australian airports impose security fees; The Outlaw Alliance of Northwest, Delta and Continental bends to government pressure; the Dorchester buys the Principe di Savoia in Milan; several airlines will permit travelers to change tickets due to war fears; and much more.

February 27 Briefing for Business Travelers
Midwest Express loses its way; hotels rush to add wireless Internet access; American and Alaska airlines add new transcontinental flights; an update on frequent-travel programs; airports end random vehicle searches; the London flight sales keep coming; and more.

February 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
The wild and wacky world of fuel surcharges; the BART link to San Francisco International Airport has been delayed again; Continental admits its financial woes to the SEC; a slew of hotels have just opened; British Airways begins an in-flight Internet and E-mail test; and much more.

February 13 Briefing for Business Travelers
America West will close its Columbus hub; alternate carriers continue to expand; how the two-seat scenario helps you exploit low sale fares; bmi launches flights to Venice; American airports ratchet up security regimens; good, free advice about smart travel; and much more.

February 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
The plunging dollar seriously erodes our buying power in Europe and Japan; Frontier simplifies its fare structure; the politics of airport gates; Red Lion Hotels is growing again out West; how alternate carriers are lapping the Big Six; the Bush Administration wants Amtrak to drop long-haul trains; and much more.

January 30 Briefing for Business Travelers
America West bulks up in Las Vegas; Aloha and American airlines are adding flights to Hawaii; Delta's Song is a derivative old tune; hubs and spokes don't help small towns; and much more.

January 23 Briefing for Business Travelers
Continental, Delta and Northwest defy the Transportation Department on their tri-partite code-share deal; Boston's "Big Dig" completes the Logan connection; Wyndham Hotels is offering free calls again; America West changes its boarding process; two more carriers drop MCI from their frequent-flyer programs; and much more.

January 16 Briefing for Business Travelers
Beware the car-rental "refueling" rip-off; Frontier adds a "temporary" fuel surcharge; alternate carriers fill the gap in Las Vegas; airlines continue to expand international routes; Lufthansa tests in-flight E-mail and Internet access; US Airways backs off its $100 standby fee; and much more.

January 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
Many airlines eliminate international first-class cabins; two carriers cut back on in-flight food and two others try selling it; more hotels switch brand names; the euro surges against the U.S. dollar; British Airways rolls out the winter's first ultra-cheap fare to London; and much more.

These columns originally appeared at

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