The Tactical Traveler


Too Much Is Apparently Never Enough
The major airlines and their international alliance partners have been blackening the skies with overseas flights during the last two years. And as if to prove that too much is never enough--even when it is too much--they're scheduling another tranche of new international flights next year. Northwest Airlines, for example, will add two new destinations from its Detroit/Metro hub: Brussels and Düsseldorf. By June 15, both new routes will operate daily. And next July, the airline will launch daily flights from Hartford, Connecticut, to Amsterdam, the main hub of its SkyTeam alliance partner KLM. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines will add four new destinations from its Atlanta hub: Prague, Vienna, Seoul and Dubai. It will also add two new cities from its New York/Kennedy hub: Bucharest, Romania, and Pisa, Italy, which is a gateway to Florence and Tuscany. And it will add nonstops from JFK to Shannon, Ireland, which it has been serving via Dublin. All of the Delta flights will launch in May and June. But we're not through yet. Star Alliance carrier Austrian Airlines is launching flights from its Vienna hub to Chicago/O'Hare, a hub for Star Alliance carrier United Airlines. The service begins in April with four weekly flights. And Air Canada, another Star Alliance carrier, will add a daily flight between Montreal and Rome beginning on June 1.

Comings and Goings (and Stayings) on the Global Stage
Westin Hotels, which dominated Chicago when the chain was owned by United Airlines, is finally getting around to serving Chicagoland's suburbs. Specifically Wheeling, Illinois. But it's almost as if Westin, now a part of Starwood, is afraid to admit it is working out of town. The 17-story, 412-room Wheeling property opened today (October 12), but it is called the Westin Chicago North Shore. The hotel is actually 25 miles from downtown Chicago and 28 miles from McCormick Place. … Speaking of Starwood chains, W Hotels has held on to its property in Honolulu. The hotel, which used to be known as the Colony Surf, was due to exit the chain in the spring. But it is still available via the W Web site. … Bulgari, the snooty Italian jewelers who years ago struck a deal with Marriott, has finally opened its second hotel. This one is a 59-villa resort in Bali. It comes more than two years after the opening of the first Bulgari Hotel, in the jeweler's hometown of Milan. … Say goodbye to Holiday Inn Select. The brand, which corporate parent InterContinental Hotels had envisioned as a hipper version of Holiday Inn, never got any traction. The existing properties will be converted to standard Holiday Inns or may switch to other InterContinental brands like Crowne Plaza and Hotel Indigo.

Comair Exercises the Nuclear Option
Now that bankrupt Northwest Airlines has convinced a federal judge to bar a strike by its flight attendants after the carrier broke a contract and imposed new wage and work-rules concessions, Comair has followed suit. The bankrupt commuter-flight division of Delta Air Lines this week tore up its flight attendants contract and unilaterally imposed salary concessions and work-rules changes. It then immediately petitioned its bankruptcy-court judge for an injunction to bar the flight attendants from striking. The judge has not yet ruled on Comair's request. But there is one silver lining: Comair made the new contract terms effective November 15, which gives the parties time to negotiate. The flight attendants have said they would strike if Comair unilaterally implemented new concessions. … Speaking of Northwest Airlines, it has reached a settlement with mechanics who walked off the job last summer after the airline imposed a new contract. The striking workers have been replaced--to the continued detriment of Northwest's on-time performance--but the agreement does provide modest severance pay to any mechanic who officially accepts a furlough or quits.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Alaska Airlines, which says it is better than your average Big Six carrier, is acting like a Big Six carrier--again. It is dumping meals for coach-class passengers on most transcontinental flights. Effective October 29, if travelers want to eat, they'll have to buy a $5 snack. … Members of the American Airlines Admirals Club network of airport lounges have a nifty new perk: free membership in the Regus Executive Club. Regus operates an in-city network of 750 business centers in 60 countries. Executive Club members receive discounted rates on hourly rentals of office space, meeting rooms, videoconferencing facilities and basics such as photocopying and Internet access. … The new Bangkok Airport, which opened last month, continues to struggle with luggage handling. There have also been complaints about signage and cleanliness, not unusual for an airport open less than a month. … Jetstar, the low-cost service operated by Qantas, has abandoned its open-seating policy. Travelers can now reserve seats when they buy tickets.

Thank God the Week Only Takes Two Hours
The ever-resourceful, always-on-the-move Peter Greenberg is back this month with another airline-related special. This one, American Airlines: A Week in the Life will air at least four times on CNBC. Peter always comes up with good stuff, of course, and I have confidence that it'll be a riveting and informative show. But for those of us who already live our lives on the road, I'm just glad the week-in-the-life show takes just two hours. I'm not sure we can handle too much more airline stuff. The show has its own Web site, complete with clips. The program will air for the first time on Wednesday night, October 18; encores are scheduled on Sunday, October 22.

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