The Tactical Traveler

As the Northwest Flight Attendants Dispute Turns…
Northwest Airlines dodged a bullet last week when a federal judge did the unthinkable: He required the carrier's flight attendants to work under the terms of a contract imposed upon them and told them they had no right to strike. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero didn't phrase it that way, of course, but that was the net effect. Marrero went so far as to say that the flight attendants were bound by the mediation process of the Railway Labor Act, even though Northwest evaded its obligations under the law by getting bankruptcy-court approval to void a valid contract and unilaterally impose new wage, benefit and work rules. The flight attendants have appealed Marrero's ruling and have also asked the National Mediation Board (NMB) to declare the nonexistent negotiations at an impasse. The NMB has called a meeting of the two sides for Tuesday (September 26). If and when the NMB declares an impasse--Northwest Airlines has already said it will not negotiate changes to the $195 million worth of concessions it imposed on flight attendants in July--a 30-day cooling-off period would begin. And then the flight attendants would be able to strike.

Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Nor Gloom of Night, Nor Coup…
The new airport in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport, has been two decades in the making and delayed by everything from corruption and mismanagement to runway cracks and building fires. But this week's coup in Thailand won't delay the opening of the facility. The facility opened for some traffic last week and all international flights will switch from Don Muang at 3 a.m. local time next Thursday (September 28). … As expected, the British government has relaxed carry-on rules at British airports. But the changes, announced today (September 21) and effective tomorrow, are much ado about very little. Travelers will still be restricted to just one carry-on bag, but the size has been increased to 22x18x10 inches. You can see complete details here.

Comings, Goings and Reflaggings Around the World
Mandarin Oriental has opened a 99-room hotel in Prague. The property is located in a former 14th-century monastery. … The venerable, if dowdy, Tequendama hotel in Bogota, Colombia, is changing flags. Effective in January, it will switch from InterContinental to Crowne Plaza. … A former Clarion hotel has been converted to the 200-room Four Points Kansas City Airport. … In Orlando, Westin has lost its only property. The four-year-old Grand Bohemian is going independent on November 20.

Bye, Bye, Bee Wee
BWIA, the 66-year-old flag carrier of Trinidad and Tobago, will shut down at the end of the year. The airline, once called British West Indies and universally nicknamed "Bee Wee," will be replaced by a new carrier called Caribbean Airlines. BWIA's labor unions and management are blaming each other. ... You can also say goodbye to the Wasington/Dulles-Milan/Malpensa nonstop flight operated by Alitalia. The perennially struggling Italian carrier is in financial chaos once again. … While four U.S. carriers fight over the right to launch a new China route, China Eastern Airlines will begin New York/Kennedy-Shanghai nonstops on December 8. There will be four weekly Airbus A340 flights. … Delta Air Lines introduces a new round of international service on December 15. The new routes include flights from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta; Guatemala City; and Managua, Nicaragua; and Atlanta-Martinique. … Both Air Canada and WestJet plan large transborder service increases this fall. WestJet will also launch its first international route, Toronto-Nassau, in November.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Delta Air Lines says it will end its "stranded passenger" arrangement with AirTran Airways, its main competitor at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport. What's it mean for you? When Delta has a flight disruption, it will no longer put you on an AirTran flight even if it is the only practical option. … The U.S. State Department has delayed by one week its plan to require U.S. citizens to have passports when flying in from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. The new rule now takes effect on January 8. … The Department of Transportation (DOT) says it will not allow airlines to advertise unbundled fares. Despite pressure from the carriers, DOT says carriers must continue to advertise prices with most taxes and fees included. … Canadian regulators say Air Canada can bill a passenger C$1,350 for delaying a flight for 27 minutes. According to Air Canada, passenger Gus Fuentes argued with a flight attendant over a seat assignment before a London-Toronto flight and that led to the delay. Written statements from other passengers on the flight supported Air Canada's contention. … JetBlue Airways introduced its first Web site redesign since its launch in the year 2000, but the new site still doesn't tell you which aircraft is used on your chosen flight.

Something Else to Chew on In-Flight
Tylenol was about to introduce a ho-hum brand extension--a chewable form of its extra-strength acetaminophen--when the Transportation Security Administration banned liquids in-flight. Now Tylenol GoTabs Chewable Tablets, which require no water to swallow, seem like a brilliant invention. The 500 mg tablets, in "spearmint ice" flavor, began shipping this week and should be available nationwide by October 1. The no-water-needed medication does sell for a hefty premium, however. Tylenol says a six-pack of GoTabs has a suggested retail of $2.99--or about 50 cents a tablet. Walgreens charges $6.49 for a 50-count bottle of traditional forms of Tylenol. That's just 13 cents each. Just something else to chew on while waiting for the flight attendant to bring you your next ration of water…

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