The Tactical Traveler



This week: airlines continue to expand international flights; Southwest keeps expanding in Philadelphia and gets two US Airways gates; Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv gets its rail link; what we drink at the hotel; Four Seasons loses its Berlin hotel; JetBlue launches its Boston-Fort Myers flights early; Alaska Airlines links Anchorage with Los Angeles and Las Vegas; and much more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: More International Flights on 'Winter' Schedules
Most of the world's airlines fiddle with their flight operations at the end of October and this year's model of the so-called winter schedule includes a surprising number of new routes and services. Here are some of the notable ones. American Airlines begins daily flights between Los Angeles and San Jose, Costa Rica. Boeing 757s configured with first- and coach-class cabins begin flying on December 16. On the same day, American will add a seasonal nonstop route between its Miami hub and Montevideo, Uruguay. Boeing 767s configured with business- and coach-classes will service that route three times weekly. ... United Airlines says it will begin a daily nonstop to Buenos Aires from its Chicago/O'Hare hub on October 31. Three-class Boeing 767s will ply the route, which also has continuing service to Montevideo. It will also begin Saturday service between Denver and Cancun on November 6; the flights go daily on December 16. United launches daily Ted service between Denver and Puerto Vallarta on December 16. ... South Africa also gets more flights this winter. Lufthansa begins three weekly nonstops between its Frankfurt hub and Cape Town on October 16. The Airbus A340 service goes daily on October 31. On the same day, Singapore Airlines will launch a weekly nonstop from Singapore to Cape Town.

AIRPORT REPORT: Southwest Gets More Gates in Philadelphia
US Airways isn't paying the bills at its Philadelphia hub so the airport authority has pulled two gates from the bankrupt carrier. Who gets the gates? Southwest Airlines, of course, which is expanding to 41 daily flights from Philadelphia on October 31. But there is a problem: Southwest currently uses four gates in Terminal E. The gates it will take from US Airways are in Terminal D. ... Who says New York isn't Fun City? A gunman tied up a worker at the Deep Blue restaurant in JetBlue's terminal at Kennedy Airport this week and made off with about $8,000. ... A construction accident at Dubai International killed eight laborers on Monday. ... The railway line to and from Ben Gurion International in Tel Aviv is due to open on October 10. But the train only connects to a new terminal that won't open until November so passengers will need to connect to the existing terminal by a special bus. About five dozen trains a day will connect Ben Gurion with various communities in Israel.

IN THE LOBBY: What We Like at the Hotel Now
So what libation would we like waiting for us in a hotel room? Fifty-four percent of the travelers who responded to a Hilton Garden Inn survey said bottled water. Coffee and soda were each the choice of 15 percent of travelers. And ten percent said they wanted a vodka tonic. Another notable result of the survey, conducted by two Hilton Garden Inn hotels in California: Cell-phone chargers are now the item we most frequently forget to take on a trip. Thirty-one percent said chargers, followed by razors (21 percent) and toothpaste (19 percent). ... Say goodbye to the Four Seasons Berlin. The 204-room hotel in the Gendarmenmarkt is now called The Regent Berlin and is now managed by the European franchisee of Radisson. ... Union workers have gone on strike at four San Francisco hotels: the San Francisco Hilton, Mark Hopkins InterContinental, Crowne Plaza Union Square and the Argent. The hotels remain open.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
JetBlue Airways has moved up the launch date for its Boston-Fort Myers nonstops. The three daily roundtrips now begin October 8 instead of October 20. ... The $5 each way fare increase that American Airlines imposed last week fizzled when other carriers refused to match across-the-board. ... Speaking of fares, Delta Air Lines says bookings at its Cincinnati hub have jumped nearly 65 percent since the introduction of its Simplifares. You'd thing that would lead thisclose-to-bankruptcy Delta to immediately introduce the simple fares across its system. Apparently not. ... Financially ramshackle Alitalia cut a new deal with employees in recent weeks and will continue flying. ... Alaska Airlines says it will launch three weekly nonstop flights between Las Vegas and Anchorage on November 4. The next day it resumes three weekly flights between Anchorage and Los Angeles. ... Speaking of Los Angeles, the head of the LAPD's counter-terrorism bureau was detained at LAX last week after trying to board a flight with a loaded gun in his carry-on bag. ... is being sold to Cendant, the company that franchises Avis and a group of economy hotel chains. Cendant will pay $27.50 a share for Orbitz and up to $1 billion of the proceeds will go to the major airlines that founded the service. All of the carriers are desperate for the cash.

THE PARTING SHOT: The Pot Calls the Kettle Too Costly
Twice-bankrupt US Airways next week asks its bankruptcy judge to impose emergency wage cuts on its unionized employees. But after first claiming that it didn't need to cut management costs, US Airways this week announced a series of white-collar layoffs and management salary reductions. And on Monday, US Airways dropped the big bomb: Effective immediately, the airline is banning "all nonessential domestic and international business travel."

This column originally appeared at

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