The Tactical Traveler

The Other Guys Keep Growing
There's virtually no place that alternate airlines won't go now to challenge the shaky hegemony of the nation's Big Six carriers. This week's big news: Frontier Airlines is jumping into the Los Angeles-San Francisco market with five daily Airbus flights, a direct challenge to United and American, the carriers that dominate the corridor between LAX and SFO. Frontier's five daily flights begin June 29. Besides offering 33 inches of legroom and free, at-seat DirecTV through Labor Day, Frontier is selling a $59 one-way introductory fare. Even more notable, however, is Frontier's standard walk-up fare of $119 each way; that's half the walk-up price charged by United and American. … Meanwhile, Boston/Logan is becoming a magnet for low-fare carriers. Besides JetBlue Airways' growing presence there, AirTran Airways and Spirit Airlines are bulking up, too. AirTran adds two daily flights to Rochester beginning July 6 and Spirit launches two daily flights to Detroit/Metro on August 15. … Southwest Airlines continues to grow in Philadelphia, where it is chipping away at US Airways' dominance. Beginning July 2, the 800-pound gorilla of discounters adds three daily flights to Columbus, Ohio, and two daily flights to Nashville.

Hello, Porto. Goodbye, Newfoundland.
Here's an interesting new route: Tap Portugal is launching three weekly Airbus A330 nonstops between Newark and Oporto on June 6. Oporto is Portugal's second-largest city and the center of the port-wine industry. … Air Canada is dropping its flight from St. John's, Newfoundland, to London/Heathrow after the summer season. The last flight is September 4. … Virgin Atlantic flyers take note: The airline has lowered its checked-baggage allowance to 50 pounds a bag. … American Airlines has resumed summer-season service between Boston and Paris and between Chicago/O'Hare and Glasgow. … The new terminal at Adelaide Airport now offers free WiFi Internet access.

Park It Here--For a Premium Price
As air traffic has picked up, large airports have had trouble keeping up with the vehicular traffic that delivers passengers to their flights. Two of the most traffic-clogged, Boston/Logan and Los Angeles, have decided that they'll charge travelers for the privilege of arriving comfortably. Beginning next Wednesday (May 10), LAX passengers using Terminal 4, Terminal 5 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal, can use valet parking. The daily rate is $38, $8 more than the regular parking rate. In Boston, Logan officials are launching a "reserved" parking program beginning June 1. Travelers who want to use the service, located in the lowest levels of Terminal B, pay a $200 sign-up fee and $5 a day above the $24 daily fee. Reservations can be made by phone or via the Internet. … Sacramento Airport has made its WiFi Internet access free for all travelers. … Crowne Plaza now has a hotel at Washington/Dulles. The former Days Inn on Centreville Road in Herndon, Virginia, has undergone a $7 million renovation.

Follow The Flags…If You Can
The endless shuffling and reflagging of hotels around the world continues apace, so get out your scorecard and your frequent-guest program statements. Here we go. … The W Honolulu will be leaving the W chain and the Starwood Preferred Guest program around May 15. … The former Wyndham Harbour Island in Tampa is now the Westin Harbor Island. … The 27-story, twin-towered hotel at 101 West Fayette Street in Baltimore's Inner Harbor area will soon get its fourth chain affiliation. Currently known as the Wyndham Inner Harbor the hotel will become the Sheraton City Center by the end of the year. Why the name change along with the flag switch? Sheraton already has a hotel named the Sheraton Inner Harbor in Baltimore. The hotel on West Fayette has also been an Omni and it opened as a Hilton. … Marriott is out at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, California. The hotel will be reflagged by the end of the year, although no new brand has been chosen. … Hyatt has opened a 189-room Hyatt Regency in Kyoto, Japan. … After a year-long renovation, Concorde has reopened the 140-year-old, 84-room Hotel de la Paix in Geneva.

Another Investigation of the 1985 Air India Bombings
The Canadian government this week launched a public inquiry into the 1985 Air India bombings. As you recall, Air India Flight 182 on the Vancouver-Montreal-London route exploded off the coast of Ireland on June 23, 1985. More than 300 passengers were killed. About an hour earlier, a bomb intended for another Air India flight exploded at Narita Airport in Tokyo. The acts were blamed on Sikh radicals and the Canadian government has already invested more than C$130 million investigating the incidents. Two Indian-born Sikhs were acquitted of the bombings in March, 2005. A third was sentenced in 2003 to five years for his role in the Narita explosion. He faces another trial, on perjury charges, next month. As Canadian prosecutors explain it, the Air India attacks were revenge for the 1984 actions of India's military at the Golden Temple of Amritsar, the holiest shrine in the Sikh religion. About 800 Sikhs were killed.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
The Federal Communications Commission will auction domestic airwaves meant to provide in-flight high-speed Internet and other communications. The spectrum space up for grabs next week is currently used by Verizon for its in-flight phones. At least a dozen companies have qualified for the auction. … O'Hare-based American Airlines is bailing on Chicago/Midway Airport again. The carrier will drop its only Midway service, five daily flights to its Dallas/Fort Worth hub, by September 1. … Singapore Airlines is the latest carrier to raise its fuel surcharges. … If you're looking for Air Canada's lowest prices, the advance-purchase Tango fares, don't bother searching the third-party Web sites or even checking with traditional travel agents. Air Canada has pulled Tango fares from all computer-reservations systems and third-party Web sites. … More than 110 travelers died this week when an Airbus A320 operated by Armenian carrier Armavia crashed into the Black Sea.

Coke or Pepsi? That Depends…
The never-ending battle between Coke and Pepsi has taken a few more fascinating turns on the road. Starwood, the company that controls the Westin, Sheraton, W and Four Points hotel brands, has signed an exclusive contract with Pepsi. That means Pepsi products will be served at virtually all Starwood properties. (Worth noting: Starwood chief executive Steve Heyer left Coke 18 months ago to join the hotel chain.) Meanwhile, the merged US Airways and America West has settled on Coke products for its in-flight service. The two carriers were pouring competing brands before the merger. Next cosmic question: Oreo or Hydrox? Oh, wait, they don't make Hydrox anymore, do they?

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