The Tactical Traveler

FOR JUNE 3 TO JUNE 10, 2004


This week: US Airways' Pittsburgh exodus begins; Brown's closes in London, the Mandarin Oriental arrives in Paris and the Radisson Edwardian opens in Manchester; Hyatt revives its Faster Free Nights promotion; Vietnam opens a commercial airport at Cam Rahn Bay; and much more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: The Big Exodus Begins in Pittsburgh
US Airways has announced that it will shrink its Pittsburgh hub to "focus city" status--Don't you just love airline gobbledygook jargon?--and the exodus has already begun. After trimming about 170 flights from its Pittsburgh schedule in recent years, US Airways is now beginning to drop commuter-carrier partners, too. Shuttle America will be phased out over the summer and several of the cities it serves will be dropped entirely. Flying as US Airways Express, Shuttle America has already ended flights to Bedford, Pennsylvania, and this month will dump service to Trenton, New Jersey. Four more Shuttle America destinations--Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Lexington, Kentucky--are not served by US Airways or any other Express carriers. Meanwhile, if you're at all interested, the latest version of the US Airways "transformation" plan can be found at the BTC Travelogue site. The plan calls for more employee givebacks and more meaningless corporate speak from the latest collection of empty suits who run the airline.

IN THE LOBBY: Brown's Closes in London, Mandarin Oriental Arrives in Paris
Brown's, one of the most famous hotels in London, has closed for renovations and is expected to reopen next spring. ... Mandarin Oriental is planting its flag in Paris. It will manage the Royal Monceau hotel. The 203-room property will be renovated later this year and be reflagged as a 180-room Mandarin after the renovation work is complete. ... Radisson says it will install Sleep Number beds--you know, the ones advertised on TV by actress Lindsey Wagner--in 249 hotels this year. ... A 196-room JW Marriott has opened in Denver. The hotel is part of the Clayton Lane development that includes offices, retail space and condominiums. ... The Hampton Inn at Oakland Airport has been reflagged as a LaQuinta.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This is Manchester's Moment
It's hard to get Americans to focus on any English city other than London, but this is actually Manchester's moment. The northern English city has a top-notch airport, good rail connections, nonstop flights from the United States and a booming hotel market. "You can't get a room from Monday to Friday in Manchester," says Stephen Miles, general manager of the Radisson Edwardian property that is due to open on Monday (June 7). "The city has regenerated itself." Miles' property, a 263-room hotel across from Manchester's convention center, joins Rocco Forte's highly regarded Lowry; the slick and hip Malmaison; and a brand-new Renaissance. "I don't know how many Americans will come," says Miles. "Perhaps 5-10 percent. But I do know that their money goes a lot further in Manchester and Northwest England than it does in London." Case in point? The Radisson Edwardian's opening rate is 100 a night (not including value-added tax) and is available until September 7.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Last week's harebrained scheme by United Airlines' to increase the fuel surcharge on the highest-priced coach fares and premium-class tickets failed. The price hike was rescinded over last weekend. ... Swiss International says it will not join the Oneworld Alliance after all. ... Delta Air Lines has launched a Web site to sell cruise packages. Buyers earn up to 10,000 miles in Delta's frequent-flyer program when they book. ... Hyatt Hotels has revived its popular Faster Free Nights promotion. Travelers earn a free night at any Hyatt hotel for every two Hyatt stays before September 30. To earn the freebie, travelers must register at the Hyatt Gold Passport site and pay for qualifying stays with a MasterCard. ... A new Skywalk connecting the main terminal at Baltimore/Washington and the airport's hourly parking garage has opened. The elevated, covered facility includes moving sidewalks and escalators between Concourse B and the garage. ... Taxi rates rise 30 cents per mile to $1.80 at Tucson Airport on June 11. The flag-drop rate remains $4.50.

THE PARTING SHOT: Memories of Police Actions Past
The news that the Vietnam Airport Authority opened a new facility last week called Cam Rahn Airport can't help but bring back memories of the ill-fated American involvement in Vietnam. The new airport was once the U.S. military base called Cam Rahn Bay. The facility and the nearby harbor were the site of several Bob Hope shows; President Johnson addressed U.S. troops there in 1967; and many troopers shipped out of the airfield and harbor during the war. How times have changed: The new commercial airport has a $32 million passenger terminal and there are nonstop flights to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Danang.

This column originally appeared at

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