The Tactical Traveler


Another Lose-Lose Proposition From the TSA
The Transportation Security Administration has bitterly opposed the concept of a frequent-flyer security bypass plan ever since the agency was created and the TSA once again showed its scorn for the idea in last week's guidelines for a Registered Traveler plan. Ostensibly geared to help as-yet unspecified private companies prepare to implement a June launch, the TSA's rules have once again revived the idea of requiring travelers to disclose financial and commercial data about their lives. Congress has specifically instructed TSA not to collect commercial data, but the agency claims it can build the snooping into Registered Traveler because participation in the program would be voluntary. At the benefits end of the scale, the TSA is offering virtually nothing to travelers who would submit the commercial and other information and pay a fee to a private company to participate. Registered Traveler members would not be exempt from random secondary screening--the most invasive and time-consuming part of airport security--nor did the TSA specifically say what security measures frequent flyers would be able to bypass. The crux of the TSA proposal: Pay a private company a fee for the privilege of disclosing a wide range of personal data to the government and get virtually no convenience or time savings in return.

More Planes Mean Lots More Cities for JetBlue
JetBlue Airways says it will add 10 cities to its route map this year. Sound shocking? Not really. The airline is getting a new plane about every 10 days. It is scheduled to receive 18 Embraer 190s and 17 Airbus A320s during the year. The airline announced its first new destinations today (January 26): Bermuda. Pending government approval, flights from its New York/Kennedy hub will begin in May. ... Speaking of JetBlue, it says it will begin serving Dunkin' Donuts coffee on all flights by the end of this month. ... AirTran Airways says it will add White Plains (HPN) to its route map this year. The airline has even announced the routes it will fly from the airport in New York's swanky Westchester County: flights to its Atlanta hub as well as service to Orlando and West Palm Beach. It did not announce a start date, however.

When a 'Delay' Means the Airport Hasn't Opened Yet
Some major airport projects around the world have been delayed again. Let's start at Madrid's Barajas Airport: The opening of Terminal 4 has been pushed back to February 5. It was due to open on Sunday (January 29). Iberia and other Oneworld Alliance carriers will have exclusive use of the terminal. ... In Adelaide, Australia, the fancy new glass-and-steel domestic terminal has still not opened for business. It was supposed to begin handling planes and passengers last October, but a problem with the fuel lines continues to dog the facility. ... The Adelaide delay is nothing compared to the never-ending saga of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport. It's been two decades in the making, but still hasn't opened, leaving Bangkok flyers to tough it out at overcrowded and outdated Don Muang. Still another opening window--late March--has now slipped away. The new target, according to Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is early July. Of course, there continue to be problems with the runway surfaces and there was a fire last week, so don't bet on July, either. ... We didn't want to end this item until we could report that something had opened at some airport somewhere in the world. So how's this: Doubletree hotels has opened a renovated former Ramada Inn near Pittsburgh International. The 135-room property is at the intersection of University Boulevard and Airport Parkway, which is about 10 minutes from the terminals. That's as close as we could get...

Do We Really Need Another Luxury Hotel Chain?
This may not mean much to you if your company wants you to book at the cheapest places in town, but there will soon be another luxury chain in the hotel market. Barry Sternlicht, the guy who forged Starwood out of the combination of Sheraton and Westin, is out on his own these days. And he's decided to build a luxury hotel chain around the Hotel de Crillon in Paris. Sternlicht picked up the Crillon when his firm bought the Societe du Louvre, the French luxury-goods company, early this year. Sternlicht is quick to remind you that Starwood created the St. Regis chain from the St. Regis hotel in New York when he ran the show. ... Speaking of luxury hotels, the Kahala in Honolulu is going independent on March 1. It has most recently been managed as a Mandarin Oriental. ... Also noted: the Toyo Hotel in Osaka, Japan, is now a Ramada. A 120-room Radisson SAS hotel has opened in Istanbul on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait. And Marriott has opened a 282-room property in Cologne, Germany.

Hotels Programs Cut Back on Frequent-Flyer Miles
Two frequent-stay programs are cutting the number of airline miles you can earn if you choose miles over points. Effective April 1, Marriott Rewards will offer just two miles for every dollar spent, down from three miles. The mileage reductions at Priority Club Rewards are effective tomorrow (January 27) and are more varied. A third hotel program, Hilton HHonors, is cutting the miles its offers when you "double dip" at Homewood Suites. Now you'll only earn 100 miles compared to the previous 500 miles per stay. ... The endless battle between American Airlines and Southwest Airlines over Love Field in Dallas has spilled over to the carriers' respective frequent-flyer programs. To highlight its new service from Love, American is offering up to 60,000 American AAdvantage bonus miles between March 2 and May 26 when you fly from Love or Dallas/Fort Worth to Kansas City, St. Louis, Austin or San Antonio. And until April 30, Southwest's Rapid Rewards program is offering triple credit on flights between Love and its new Missouri destinations, Kansas City and St. Louis. ... Speaking of AAdvantage, take note: TACA and its subsidiaries are leaving the program on June 30.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Here's a transcontinental route you may never have expected: Raleigh-Durham to Los Angeles. Delta Air Lines will start six weekly flights between the two cities on June 8 using Boeing 737-800s. ... Mark up another route to Liberia, Costa Rica, the city nearest the Four Seasons Papagayo Resort. American Airlines begins two weekly flights there from its Dallas/Fort Worth hub on February 3. ... Lufthansa has upgraded its all-business-class service from Newark to Munich. The Boeing 737s are now equipped with 44 lie-flat seats and DVD players. ... Pilots at SAS have ended a three-day wildcat strike against the airline's Denmark-based flights. However, cabin crews at Alitalia continue to foul up the Italian carrier's operations. About 1,000 domestic and international flights have been cancelled in the last week.

Copyright 1993-2006 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.