The Tactical Traveler

FOR MARCH 10 TO MARCH 24, 2005
Delta Air Lines passengers in Boston and Southwest Airlines flyers in Phoenix are getting fancy new digs. In Phoenix, Southwest moved into Sky Harbor Airport's new D Concourse on Tuesday. Although Southwest is vacating the B Concourse in favor of the eight gates in D, it will continue to operate 16 gates in the C Concourse. The $50 million D Concourse also has the standard array of airport shops and eateries. Meanwhile, next Wednesday is moving day for Delta at Logan in Boston. It is consolidating all of its mainline flights, Song service, Delta Shuttle and Delta Connection commuter flights into a newly constructed, 18-gate facility at Terminal A. The 686,000-square-foot terminal and satellite building are connected by a 600-foot underground tunnel. Moving walkways will connect the buildings and parking garages. The $400 million facility, complete with new shops, restaurants and Delta Crown Rooms, is the first major improvement at Logan's Terminal A in a generation. The larger space in Terminal C that Delta is leaving will be renovated and occupied by JetBlue Airways, which is building a base of operation in Boston.

Bankrupt US Airways, which has been drawing down cash from its federally guaranteed loan to fund ongoing operations, is also using those dollars to outsource jobs. The airline already uses a call center in El Salvador to service passenger inquiries on lost baggage. Now it looks like more than 700 jobs that once were filled by telephone-reservation agents in Pennsylvania are headed to El Salvador, too. … One of the bidders for bankrupt Hawaiian Airlines was arrested in St. Louis this week. The charge: attempting to bribe an undercover FBI agent posing as a hedge-fund manager. The FBI says the man, Paul Boghosian, was offering the bribe to secure a loan to fund the Hawaiian Airlines bid. … Continental Airlines, which isn't in bankruptcy yet, says it is now losing $4 million a month. It blames Delta Air Lines for some of the losses, claiming Delta's fare simplification in January has accelerated losses. The problem with that claim: Continental's revenue per seat mile has increased in each of the two months that the new fares have been in effect. … Speaking of Delta, the not-yet-bankrupt airline said in a Securities Exchange Commission filing this week that continuing heavy losses in 2005 will lead to a cash crunch. The airline is apparently looking to sell off several of its commuter airlines to raise working capital.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will ban cigarette lighters at airports effective April 14. The TSA says all forms of mechanical lighters will be verboten beyond security checkpoints. Up to four books of matches will still be permitted, however. … Hagerstown, Maryland, will continue to have commercial air service until at least mid-spring. Mesa Air, which operates the US Airways Express flights that are Hagerstown's only service, will operate the Pittsburgh route until May 17. … Watch for Independence Air to slash flights from its Washington/Dulles hub in the next few months. To avoid bankruptcy, the airline is returning 24 planes to lenders and will have to drop destinations and frequencies. … Houston/Hobby now has Wi-Fi service. The connections are provided by Sprint and cost $9.95 per day on a pay-as-you-go basis. … A 194-room Hilton Garden Inn has opened at New York/Kennedy Airport. … Priority Pass, the worldwide airport-club program, has added lounges at two airports: Poznan, Poland, and Harare, Zimbabwe. … Lehigh Valley Airport near Philadelphia, which has subsidized several commercial flights, has now helped launch a public-charter carrier. Lehigh Valley Air is scheduled to start flying to Fort Lauderdale on March 24. The airport itself is kicking in more than $500,000 in advertising support and free services.

These have been hard times for Hartford, which once was known as Insurance City because of the confluence of underwriters in the capital of Connecticut. But here's a bit of good news: the 22-story, 392-room hotel adjacent to the Hartford Civic Center has reopened. The Hilton Hartford has undergone a $33 million refurbishment after years of decline. A high-rise Marriott is slated to open in Hartford later this year, too. … Kempinski was named to manage the newly opened Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. The elaborate 346-room hotel, which also serves as the official guest palace of the emirate, has 114 domes, 1,000 chandeliers, 200 fountains, a heliport, 600 acres of landscaped grounds and a mile-long stretch of beach. … Hilton HHonors members take note: Hilton International is out as manager of the Jalousie Resort in St. Lucia. Effective June 1, the company that manages Le Sport in St. Lucia takes over.

Delta Air Lines is bailing on onboard food sales, which was last year's brilliant Big Six idea. The complexity of selling food is far outweighing any potential profit, so Delta will can the effort on April 3. It will now offer free snacks (but no meals) to most coach passengers on flights lasting longer than 90 minutes. (Song, Delta's low-fare service with a robust food-sales program, is not affected.) Delta also says it is raising the price of alcoholic beverages to $5 a pop and eliminating pillows. … Continental Airlines is quietly cutting the number of first-class seats on its fleet of Boeing 737-500s. At least two first-class seats will be removed to make room for more coach chairs. … Virgin Blue, the low-fare Australian airline that is fronted by Richard Branson but is operated and majority owned by a local Australian firm, has launched an upgraded class of service. Blue Plus offers more spacious seating, extra luggage allowance, priority check-in and other perks for the price of a full-fare coach ticket.

Remember the Breeze, the high-speed ferry that briefly operated last year on Lake Ontario between Toronto and Rochester? The ferry operator went bust in a matter of weeks, but the city of Rochester purchased the Breeze at a bankruptcy auction this week and wants to restart the cross-border ferry service in the spring.

Copyright © 1993-2005 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.