The Tactical Traveler

Brush Up Your Metrics for European Carry-On Toiletries
The European Union and three other European nations--Norway, Iceland and Switzerland--have adopted U.S. style rules about carry-on toiletries. The new regulations go into effect on November 6 and travelers will be limited to a clear, one-liter zip-top bag that can be stuffed with lotions, creams, gels and toothpastes. No individual items in the bag can be larger than 100 milliliters. In case you're not up to speed on the metric scale, a one-liter bag is equivalent to the U.S. limit of a one-quart plastic bag. A 100ml size container is about 3 ounces, which is also the U.S. limit. What's it all mean? If you are traveling to, from or through the United States, Canada, the EU and Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, you now have a standardized carry-on rule when it comes to toiletries. It's a stupid rule, of course, but at least it's standardized stupidity.

JetBlue Gets Windy, AirTran Bulks Up in Florida
JetBlue Airways turned in disappointing third-quarter earnings on Tuesday (October 24) and management promised to slow down the carrier's expansion. Then it promptly announced service to two new airports. On Wednesday (October 25), JetBlue said it would begin flying from Stewart Airport in Newburgh, about 65 miles north of its New York/Kennedy hub. Beginning December 19, it will launch flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Two weeks later, it will add flights to West Palm Beach. And today (October 26) JetBlue announced that it will begin service to Chicago/O'Hare, the largest airport not currently on its route map. Effective January 4, it will fly five times daily to Kennedy and twice a day to its West Coast hub at Long Beach. The airline had previously announced it would begin a daily Boston-San Juan flight on December 13. ... AirTran Airways is bulking up in Florida. On December 21, it will add daily service between White Plains, New York, and three Florida destinations: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and Tampa. From Chicago/Midway, it will add seasonal flights to Fort Myers on December 21. It will begin flying four daily seasonal flights between its Atlanta hub and Daytona Beach on January 11. And it will also launch seasonal flights from Indianapolis to Miami and West Palm Beach on December 7.

Porter Flies From Toronto City Centre, Controversy Follows
Commercial service resumed this week at close-in Toronto/City Centre airport and controversy wasn't far behind. Porter Airlines launched on Monday (October 23) with flights to Ottawa. The carrier is operating Q700 commuter aircraft configured 2x2 and hopes to fly to as many as 17 Canadian and U.S. cities. But Porter drew the ire of protesters who want the waterfront airport closed to commercial service. Air Canada was forced to stop flying from City Centre earlier this year because Porter's owner also owned the terminal that Air Canada was using. Air Canada continues to try to find a way to resume flights from the airport. ... All of the 16 airline-specific club lounges have closed at the Tom Bradley International terminal in Los Angeles. While construction on the terminal continues, the airport has opened two temporary clubs, one on the mezzanine level for first-class customers and one near Gate 118 for business-class travelers. Unfortunately, business-class customers must take a bus from the gate to reach the lounge.

Attention, International Flyers. It's Schedule-Change Time.
International airlines introduce their "winter" flying schedules this weekend, which occurs in lockstep with the end of Daylight Savings Time in most parts of the world on October 28. So check your scheduled flights carefully because departure times--not to mention time itself--may have changed. ... There are some interesting new international flights on tap for the first days of the winter schedule. Etihad today (October 26) launches the first-ever nonstop flights between New York/Kennedy and Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile, its United Arab Emirates competitor, Dubai-based Emirates, launches three weekly flights from Kennedy to Hamburg, Germany. And United Airlines begins nonstops between Washington/Dulles and Kuwait City on October 28. ... Elsewhere, South African Airways launches a nonstop from Dulles to Johannesburg on October 30. The aforementioned United bulks up its Asian service on October 28 with nonstops between Dulles and Tokyo/Narita and between San Francisco and Taipei, Taiwan. Air Madrid on October 29 launches twice-weekly flights from Madrid to both Los Angeles and Miami. Finally, this weekend Alaska Airlines launches a raft of flights to Mexican destinations from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.

International Fuel Surcharges Drop--Slowly
As fuel costs plummet, major international carriers are, ever so slowly, dropping their fuel surcharges. Among the carriers slashing a few bucks from the fee are Lufthansa, Qantas and Austrian. ... US Airways says it has lowered fares to 39 destinations by more than 60 percent. Of course, there's lots of fine print to the claim. The biggest reduction is on 21-day advance-purchase fares. The walk-up fares that have been reduced are largely capacity controlled. ... Houston-based travelers now have an airport-transportation option. Super Shuttle launches its signature blue-van service to both Intercontinental and Hobby airports on November 1. The 24-hour-a-day service will extend as far as Sugar Land, the Woodlands and other suburbs.

Rebrandings and Reopenings Around the World
San Diego's most storied downtown hotels, the US Grant, has reopened after a 20-month, $52 million renovation. The 11-story Beaux Arts building now offers 270 rooms and is a part of the Starwood Luxury Collection. ... The former Spencer Hotel in downtown Wilmington, Delaware, has become a Doubletree. The 217-room property, formerly a Wyndham, has undergone a $7 million upgrade. ... A hotel north of the historic center of Florence, Italy, has opened as the Hilton Garden Inn Florence Novoli. It's the first of dozens of Garden Inns that Hilton hopes to open in Europe. ... The first newly built property in the Hotel Indigo chain opened this week in Sarasota, Florida. The 95-room hotel is the sixth in the Indigo chain, which InterContinental has been trying to position as a mid-priced boutique brand.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Two airlines, US Airways and Air Canada, have tightened the expiration policy on their frequent flyer programs. Effective December 1, Dividend Miles members must post activity to their accounts at least once every 18 months or pay a reactivation fee. Accounts are completely cancelled if no activity posts in 36 months. Air Canada Aeroplan members will be required to post account activity once a year or risk having their miles removed. The new policy goes into effect on July 1. ... Mesaba, the commuter carrier for Northwest Airlines, has won a double whammy against its employees. The carrier's bankruptcy judge not only allowed the airline to impose contract terms on employees, but he also barred the employees from striking against the unilateral contract terms. ... Speaking of bankruptcy court, Delta Air Lines has asked for another extension of its stay in bankruptcy. It now wants to control its own destiny without creditor input until next April. ... International airlines that offer Boeing's Connexion in-flight Internet service will be giving it away until the end of the year. That's the good news. The bad news is that Connexion will close at the end of the year.

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