The Tactical Traveler


Northwest Dumps the Heartland Strategy
Northwest Airlines spent much of the last three years throwing resources and planes at cities like Milwaukee and Indianapolis. The so-called Heartland Strategy was aimed at destabilizing two smaller competitors, Milwaukee-based Midwest Express and Indianapolis-based ATA Airlines. ATA is now in bankruptcy, but so is Northwest, so the Heartland Strategy is being scrapped. The airline's new schedule, which begins Sunday (October 30), shows large reductions in the number of flights from both Milwaukee and Indianapolis. Northwest operated about 40 flights a day from Milwaukee this summer, but will drop service to Boston, Denver, Kansas City and Toronto. It also won't restart seasonal flights to warm-weather destinations such as Fort Myers and Phoenix. Indianapolis loses flights to cities such as Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth. Also going: About 40 daily flights to Midwestern cities from Northwest's shrinking Minneapolis/St. Paul hub.

Air Canada Pads Connect Times in Toronto and Montreal
Air Canada has bowed to reality-- more onerous U.S. security procedures--on transborder flights via its Toronto and Montreal hubs. In Toronto, the legal time between a domestic Canadian flight and a transborder connection will rise to 70 minutes from 60 minutes. The domestic-to-transborder connecting time in Montreal rises to 60 minutes from 50 minutes. The changes go into effect on Tuesday (November 1). American Airlines finally moves its international flights into the new Terminal D at Dallas/Fort Worth on Saturday (October 29). The terminal opened in July, but American was concerned about baggage-handling operations. Priority Pass, the worldwide airport club network, has added six Alaska Airlines Board Room lounges. Dollar Rent A Car has created the Dollar Express Services Program. It offers expedited car-rental service at airports, including dedicated pick-up lanes and express returns. Surf to the Dollar Express page for free registration.

The New, The Old, The Refurbished, The Reflagged
The Radisson Hotel Clayton in St. Louis has recently been renovated and added a new tower of rooms. Now it has a new brand name, too. The 255-room property has been reflagged as the Crowne Plaza St. Louis. The Carlton, a dowdy hotel near New York's Gramercy Park, has gotten a $60 million renovation and reopened. The 316-room property now has a three-story lobby, new function rooms due to open in December and a new restaurant owned and operated by Geoffrey Zakarian. Brown's Hotel, the iconic London property that has been closed for two years, is due to reopen on December 12. The 117-room property in Mayfair has gotten a $35 million renovation and is now a Rocco Forte hotel.

South of the Border, Down Mexico (and Argentina) Way
What's hot right now? New flights to Mexico and Argentina. On Tuesday (November 1), Aeromexico begins four weekly flights between Chicago/O'Hare and Leon. Sun Country Airlines begins weekly flights from Minneapolis to Los Cabos on November 13. Frontier Airlines continues its Mexico expansion on December 8 with weekend flights from its Denver hub to Acapulco. On December 18, it adds three weekly flights from Kansas City to Puerto Vallarta. Two new routes to Argentina also launch before the end of the year. LAN Argentina begins daily flights between Miami and Buenos Aires on December 1. Two-class Boeing 767-300s will be used on the route. And on December 14, Continental Airlines begins a daily flight to the Argentine capital from its Newark and Houston/Intercontinental hubs. The EWR-IAH-EZE service will be operated with two-class 767-200Ers. The ultra-long-haul New York-Bangkok nonstops that Thai Airways launched earlier this year are not selling well. Beginning December 1, the airline will drop one of its four weekly flights. Add KLM to the list of international airlines offering an all-business-class service. On Sunday (October 30), the Dutch carrier launches six weekly flights from Houston to Amsterdam using Boeing 737-700s configured with just 44 business-class seats. Continental adds a weekly flight between Newark and Liberia, Costa Rica, on December 16. Liberia is the airport that serves the Four Seasons resort on the Papagayo Peninsula.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
AirTran Airways is dropping flights from Dallas/Fort Worth to Los Angeles on December 1. The carrier has also shelved plans to add several Florida cities to its DFW schedule. A federal baggage screener at New York/Kennedy was arrested for stealing $80,000 hidden in the checked bag of a passenger bound for Pakistan. Makes you wonder what's more surprising: Catching a light-fingered screener or knowing that there are passengers dumb (or desperate) enough to stash 80 grand in a checked bag. ... A consulting firm has dropped its demand for a $1.75 million "success fee" for helping steer Hawaiian Airlines out of bankruptcy earlier this year. The trustee appointed by bankruptcy court, Joshua Gotbaum, is still demanding an $8 million payment atop his $50,000 monthly fee. ... The Transportation Department's monthly Air Travel Consumer Report will offer on-time statistics for three more carriers next year: Mesa, Frontier and Hawaiian. But the report will no longer include Independence Air; two airports, St. Louis and Portland, Oregon, will also be dropped. ... Japan Airlines says it will join the Oneworld Alliance.

The Guarantees: Death and Your Taxes for Pork for Alaska
Last week we told you about the $500,000 in taxpayer dollars that went to Alaska Airlines to paint a jet to look like a salmon. Well, that turns out to be small potatoes in the parade of pork that's headed to the 49th State. Remember those bridges to nowhere that Don Young, the Alaskan Republican who's chairman of the House Transportation Infrastructure Subcommittee, snared for his district? The $452 million in subsidies survived a Senate challenge last week. Tom Coburn, a Nebraska Republican, tried to kill the bridges and other questionable projects, but was promptly shot down by Alaska's two Republican senators. "Most of you don't understand who we are up there and what we need," huffed Republican Lisa Murkowski. "These bridges are necessary," insisted Ted Stevens. As you'll recall, the two-mile Gravina Island Bridge, nearly as long as the Golden Gate Bridge and higher than the Brooklyn Bridge, will replace the 7-minute ferry ride to Ketchikan Airport. The Knik Arm Bridge links Anchorage with a port that has one client.

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