The Tactical Traveler for 2004

joe December 16 Briefing for Business Travelers
What will the business-travel landscape look like in 2005? Here are some thoughts, observations and conclusions about the state of life on the road after we return from the 2004 holiday break. We cover the state of the Big Six and the alternate carriers; the fate of the dollar; the outlook for airports and international service; and much more.

December 9 Briefing for Business Travelers
The Big Six gambles on more international flights; new service for Washington/National; US Airways apparently doesn't learn from the past, so it will relive it; Mineta keeps his post at the Transportation Department; the U.S. dollar hits record lows against the euro, British pound and Swiss franc; complaints against the TSA skyrocket; and much more.

December 2 Briefing for Business Travelers
How to donate your miles and points this holiday season; Palmdale gets back on the scheduled-service route map and Del Rio gets its first flights; AirTran expands at Chicago/Midway and Frontier gives up on Los Angeles; Air Canada goes nonstop to Sydney and United heads for Vietnam; Volare folds with typical Italian drama; the book on JetBlue; and much more.

November 18 Briefing for Business Travelers
American Airlines juggles its fares in South Florida; AirTran prepares to replace ATA at Midway; Lufthansa recreates first-class travel in Frankfurt with private offices, day rooms and limo transfers to the gate; Frontier Airlines raises some fares; Pam Am disappears--again; the high cost of saving money on in-flight pillows; and more.

November 4 Briefing for Business Travelers
Tel Aviv finally gets its international terminal; Southwest makes its move at Midway; Delta's "big bang" in Atlanta; the Hotel Indigo chain debuts; hotels at O'Hare switch allegiance; Iberia pulls a bizarre in-flight announcement; and more.

October 28 Briefing for Business Travelers
The battle of Chicago is joined now that AirTran will build a hub at Midway from bankrupt ATA's assets; Hertz begins guaranteed "make and model" reservations at 12 airports in California and Florida; who's lending money to the Big Six; the TSA's witch hunt for a whistle-blower at Newark Airport; news about your miles and points; and much more.

October 21 Briefing for Business Travelers
Air Canada rationalizes its fares; US Airways talks about another transformation; gearing up to fight the TSA's intrusive Secure Flight program; Big Six employees lose jobs, pay and pensions, but the bosses don't share the pain; mid-market hotels upgrade their beds and baths; Amtrak says it will enforce its luggage rules; and much more.

October 14 Briefing for Business Travelers
Air fares rise a bit as oil prices skyrocket; Delta and US Airways launch flights to each others' hubs while Delta and Continental both want to fly to Berlin; Vienna and Tel Aviv get airport rail links; United slashes domestic flights and increases international service; American charges $250 for international upgrades; and much more.

September 30 Briefing for Business Travelers
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.

September 23 Briefing for Business Travelers
Delta will shift Dallas regional-jet flights to its other hubs; London's airports face a weekend of chaos; a bad, bad week for the Big Six; American tries a fare increase; hotels' telephone revenues plummet; ATA and America West add ticket fees; Iraqi Airlines flies again; and much more.

September 16 Briefing for Business Travelers
Hotels in three big cities face a strike; Independence Air keeps expanding, but faces low passenger loads and Big Six retaliation; BA trims some London flights; Air Canada will resume Rome flights; the government won't get a secret court hearing on air-security rules; Delta faces a wave of pilot retirements and may have to ground flights; Continental raises international upgrade prices; fares increase sixfold after Spirit drops Denver-Detroit flights; and much more.

September 9 Briefing for Business Travelers
Aer Lingus will lead the transatlantic fare revolution; Delta dumps Dallas; a great tool for mileage conversion between programs; Southwest and Northwest move in on beleaguered ATA; Radisson offers Web check-in up to a week before arrival; Continental will fly nonstop to Bristol, England; five of the Big Six now charge fees for buying tickets on the phone or at the airport; and much more.

August 26 Briefing for Business Travelers
US Airways pins its hopes on Fort Lauderdale, but its competitors will be there first; there'll be lots more Hawaii flights this fall; the Watergate Hotel is closing; United Airlines admits in court that it lied; American Airlines will test in-flight food sales; the restaurant where no one knows your name at Boston/Logan; and much more.

August 12 Briefing for Business Travelers
Useless "wait-time" data from the TSA; more airports for Hertz's Prestige Collection of cars; Malaysia Airlines will fly between Newark and Stockholm; more hotel openings and reflaggings around the world; Northwest challenges ATA in Indianapolis; Ray Charles is singing in the skies; and much more.

July 29 Briefing for Business Travelers
Tracking the Pittsburgh pullout at US Airways; the feds want more schedule cuts at O'Hare, but airlines keeps adding flights; a snapshot of frequent-flyer award availability; Northwest is closing WorldClubs; more Asia service from United and Delta; Amtrak adopts new security rules in the Washington-Boston corridor; and much more.

July 15 Briefing for Business Travelers
Prepare for pain at Atlanta/Hartsfield as major roadwork begins; Southwest expands again in Philadelphia; JetBlue launches Phoenix flights; airlines add more service to Hawaii; hotels keep swapping chain affiliations; La Quinta buys Baymont; and much more.

July 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
The political conventions mean you should avoid Boston and New York for parts of this summer; Frontier and Spirit drop flights to Big Six hubs; the TSA starts a "registered traveler" test in Minneapolis; BA moves its Detroit terminal; Dulles wilts under the pressure of the fight between United and Independence Air; turning Entebee Airport into a national-heritage site; and much more.

June 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
Continental and US Airways are forced to lower fares; JetBlue grows in New York and Boston; America West expands in Las Vegas; WestJet heads to the United States; Four Seasons hotels open in Budapest and the Whistler Resort; Hilton HHonors changes its Double Dip options; disruptive roadwork looms at Atlanta Hartsfield; more lies from the TSA on passenger records; and much more.

June 17 Briefing for Business Travelers
United's federal loan request is rejected again; the Transportation Security Administration grudgingly announces a test of a trusted-traveler program; Sea-Tac gets a new concourse and Dulles gets a new airline; more summer frequent-travel promotions; more hotel reflaggings; Air India launches a Hollywood-to-Bollywood route; swank Miami hotels offer huge summer discounts; and much more.

June 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
Fare simplification, after a fashion, from the Big Six; Aloha dumps inter-island first-class seats; are you ready to visit Molvania?; a new fleet of international flights launch; Continental's latest fare hike fails; Air Canada is dumping low-fare Zip; and more.

June 3 Briefing for Business Travelers
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.

May 27 Briefing for Business Travelers
Airlines keep trying oil-related fare hikes; the war against CAPPS II moves to Alaska; Emirates, Singapore and Cathay Pacific bring new long-haul flying to New York; Wyndham and Le Meridien keep shrinking; the Langham in London drops Hilton; British Airways launches a business-class fare sale, but you can't have it; and much more.

May 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
Continental tries to raise fares up to $20 each way; US Airways is dumping its Pittsburgh hub; San Francisco International cancels terminal renovations; Independence Air launches from Dulles on June 16; Hilton HHonors now offers online award redemption; and much more.

May 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
More spring flights from alternate airlines; more reports of airport luggage thefts; Air France and KLM merge; the deterioration of Adam's Mark hotels; a new tram in Minneapolis; cab fares rise in New York; Delta code-shares with suspect China Airlines; and much more.

April 29 Briefing for Business Travelers
US Airways' bizarre competitive response to Southwest in Philadelphia; book away from Alitalia as it melts down; a slew of new hotels open around the country; BA introduces 'sleeper service' on many night flights; TSA employees in Detroit accused of stealing laptops from travelers' bags; Delta goes to 'zone boarding' on most international flights; and much more.

April 22 Briefing for Business Travelers
A modest revival of the dollar's fortune in Europe; watch for schedule changes in Miami and Chicago; more transcon service from America West; more Hawaii flights from American; Siegel takes the money and runs from US Airways; United's overbooking problem in Florida and Europe; Northwest raises fares; and more.

April 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
United Express service at Dulles may be chaotic this spring and summer; Frontier will expand in Los Angeles; Sheraton and Hilton are adding hotel check-in kiosks; Toronto's new terminal opens to raves; get ready for another huge increase in flights to Mexico; and more.

April 1 Briefing for Business Travelers
Why you should never buy tickets on a weekend; Seinfeld and Superman pitch the American Express Card; a raft of new overseas flights are on tap this spring; a psychic convinces the TSA to cancel a flight; Westin offers a phone-Internet flat-rate package; and much more.

March 25 Briefing for Business Travelers
The high cost of charging your tax bill to earn miles; Toronto's new terminal opens on April 6; Supreme Court Justice Scalia plays fare games; a Four Seasons opens in Provence; a Mandarin Oriental opens in Washington; Boeing prices its in-flight Internet service at $15-$30 a flight; a Web auction for Concorde memorabilia; and much more.

March 11 Briefing for Business Travelers
Signs of improvement in domestic first class; fares rise, gingerly; new airports and new airport services appear; no-fly alternatives for business travelers; new hotels in fascinating places; a security update; and much more.

February 26 Briefing for Business Travelers
American offers free upgrades to super-elite flyers; America West expands night service at its Las Vegas hub; airport clubs add Wi-Fi; Hawaii gets more mainland flights--and fewer Starwood hotels; Cendant combines all its hotel frequent-travel programs into a single plan; Northwest closes its U.S. city ticket offices; and much more.

February 12 Briefing for Business Travelers
Congress slams CAPPS II's privacy flaws; another city falls off the route map; ATA adds business class; Southwest begins online check-in nationwide; Marriott snags major hotels in London and Dublin; the EC approves the Air France-KLM merger; WestJet is heading south of the Canadian border; a Starwood-British Airways double-miles promotion; and much more.

January 29 Briefing for Business Travelers
The beginning of the end of Song; Aloha's new Web site offers 10 percent off most fares; JetBlue redefines aviation's fast track; new looks for Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn; more service to Mexico; another big glitch at security; high-speed, on-the-road Internet access gains momentum; the high cost of bankruptcy lawyers at United; and much more.

January 22 Briefing for Business Travelers
Nobody's biting on transcon seats even at $79; the phony compromise on flight delays at O'Hare; Southwest tests online check-in; Frontier caps one-way fares from Denver at $299; airlines head south to warmer places; the prototype of a new generation of Holiday Inn opens in Georgia; and much more.

January 15 Briefing for Business Travelers
Transcontinental fares dip to a record-low $79 one-way; US Airways devalues membership in its airport-club network; low-fare WestJet challenges Air Canada in Toronto; in-room, high-speed Internet advances at mid-priced hotels; American Express charges for mileage transfers; InterContinental renames the Six Continents Club; Delta Air Lines goes to "zone boarding" in the United States; United uses the bankruptcy court to cheat retirees; and much more.

January 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
A strike may hit Northwest Airlines Airlink this weekend; a slew of massive changes in the hotel industry; Delta and US Airways offer free upgrades to elite flyers; Iberia drops first-class service; airports will maintain orange-alert status when the national terror level returns to yellow; and much more.

These columns originally appeared at

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