The Tactical Traveler for 2008

joe December 30 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: What a difference a year makes for new China routes; Delta may be running on empty in Cincinnati, but it does commit to Minneapolis-St. Paul; at Alitalia, everything must go, even the Dalis and Gattusos; Doug Parker should only do this well by US Airways customers; to sleep, perchance to overshoot the airport; and more.

December 18 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Just what we needed: more international flights and hotel openings; American ups its schedule at Boston/Logan; Amex says fewer miles and points for you; DOT raises lost-bag reimbursement to $3,300; Delta's in-flight Internet limps into service; a fast train for the Rome-Milan run; Hertz adds a car-share program; and more.

December 11 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Hertz changes refueling policy without notice; more hotels change brand flags; Virgin America and JetBlue go to war in Boston; Heineken opens a bar in Newark's Terminal C; Delta aligns SkyMiles and Northwest WorldPerks; Advantage Rent A Car closes almost half its locations; a new lounge opens at LAX' Bradley Terminal; United is selling another perk once reserved for elite flyers; and more.

December 4 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: So much for that airline-capacity crisis; Guess what? More hotels are opening; Bangkok airports plan "normal" operations; Lufthansa buys Austrian Airlines and grows in Italy; What's in an airline name? Plenty if it's "Aloha"; TSA opens self-select lanes at 50th airport; and much more.

November 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Southwest approaches its final frontier; Delta backs off Coach Choice for SkyMiles elites; US Airways restores bonus miles for its elites; Hilton grows its Garden Inn chain in Italy; suddenly, everyone wants to fly to Geneva; the Fontainebleau reopens in Miami Beach; free WiFi arrives at Oakland Airport; and much more.

November 13 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Back to the old days of strikes in Europe's skies; get out your scorecard for these hotel changes; domestic fuel surcharges disappear into base fares; Amex raises its foreign-currency fee; another huge international expansion by Delta; AirTran adds a $15 first-checked-bag fee; Hawaii's wacky inter-island competitors; and much more.

November 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: How'd you like to open a luxury hotel now?; Southwest brings its cheap fares to Minneapolis; JetBlue builds up in the Caribbean; Delta expands its international route map once again; the Book-Cadillac hotel returns in Detroit; so much for US Airways' on-time prowess; duct-taping customer service at United; and more.

October 30 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Delta adopts Northwest's "choice" coach charges; economy be damned, a burst of new hotels; more cuts in the frequent travel plans; Northwest bulks up before Southwest arrives; Michelin can't find a three-star restaurant in Los Angeles; Chase cardholders get a break from Continental Airlines; and much, much more.

October 16 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Doubletree extends its reach to Europe; Southwest plugs a hole: Minneapolis-St. Paul; hotshot Indian carriers get a dose of reality; here come two more new airport terminals; Icelandair will add a premium economy cabin; Virgin America finally allows award redemptions; Daylight Saving Time starts November 2; and more.

October 9 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: More on Leading Hotel's $19.28-a-night promotion gone wrong; Southwest Airlines adds priority security lanes at seven airports; another tranche of new hotels opens; the silver lining for travelers in the financial meltdown; Sun Country goes bust, but keeps running; Cathay Pacific opens an arrivals lounge in Hong Kong; and much more.

September 25 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: American Airlines' new PriorityAAccess renames the lipstick on a pig; JetBlue's new JFK terminal delayed three weeks; the Big Six dribble out new overseas service; the financial crisis and your travel dollar; Continental restores 500-Mile minimum for elites; Turkish Airlines restarts service to Baghdad; and much more.

September 18 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Europe's airline route map is changing again; the new hotels keep opening; US Airways gets even smaller in Pittsburgh; WestJet and Air Canada spar over surcharges and baggage fees; Frontier and United increase their bag charges; Alitalia is at death's door--again; a flyer beats Delta in small-claims court; and more.

September 11 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: ready for four airport projects in six weeks?; new hotels just keep coming out of the pipeline; Best Buy opens kiosks at a dozen U.S. airports; Continental dumps flights to London/Gatwick; US Airways to launch Philadelphia-Tel Aviv flights; she was for it before she was against it; why I never listen to airline security analysts; and much more.

September 4 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: New baggage fees and OnePass cuts at Continental; say goodbye to even more long-haul flights; Delta abandons Concourse C in Cincinnati; the global route map continues to change; United won't cut international meals after all; Southwest goes to a cashless cabin; Qatar Airways will fly nonstop to Doha; and much more.

August 21 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: American Airlines and the TSA tussle at O'Hare; AirTran will add flights in Columbus, Ohio; Frontier adds fees and raises award levels; JetBlue drops some transcons for shorter hauls; Hilton fiddles with HHonors elite benefits and rules; another burst of new hotels and flag switches; the FAA slaps big fines on American and Southwest; and more.

August 7 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Stop worrying about a shortage of seats in the fall; the new hotels just keep on coming; the next tranche: secondary international cuts; United selling (almost) anything not bolted down; pillows and upgrades and surcharges, oh my!; Delta says it'll install in-flight WiFi fast; the TSA tells Clear to stop adding new members; and much more.

July 31 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Delta restores a SkyMiles perk--for a huge price; hotels keep on opening--and switching flags; BA's OpenSkies adds a destination and dumps coach class; all sorts of new fees and charges keep coming; American adds food service at Admirals Clubs; Malev ends all flights to North America; Frontier gets funding, but sells itself cheap; and much more.

July 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: More frequent flyer money for the airlines, fewer benefits for us; a good week for Starwood Preferred Guest players; the latest cuts from Delta, United and JetBlue; Midwest Airlines burns the furniture in Milwaukee; BA will move its last flights to London's T5 in October; watch out for more strikes at Lufthansa; a new carrier for the no-fly list: Spirit Airlines; and much more.

July 17 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Back at the war against terrorism; this week's cuts and deletions from the airlines; Fort Lauderdale, St. Regis hardly knew ye; adding some new routes among the ruins; United is closing four more Red Carpet clubs; helping the wonderful business-travel wonks at Cranfield U; go! will charge a first-bag fee in Hawaii; and much more.

July 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: American finishes dead last in on-time flights for the fourth consecutive month; what United doesn't know about history; hotels keep opening, but the outlook Is bleak; airlines add more price hikes and more fees; US Airways says entertain yourself in-flight; ExpressJet will fold its branded flights; Delta cuts again at LAX and Salt Lake City; and more.

July 3 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: We're flying less ... a lot less; more fees, more fares, more fuel surcharges; cuts as far as you can see (domestic division); cuts as far as you can see (international division); BA buys L'Avion for its OpenSkies subsidiary; TSA changes the rules for registered-traveler members; Delta adds flights to Latin America; and more.

June 26 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: Guess who's still growing? Southwest Airlines; American, United, Midwest make more cuts; a "new" King of Velcro hotels "opens" in Toledo; TSA revives secondary screening at the gate; Qantas premium economy vs. United business class; the IRS raises the driving rate to 58.5 cents a mile; Marriott Rewards points now buy luggage shipping; and more.

June 19 Briefing for Business Travelers
United, Continental and Star forge an alliance; Here comes another bushel of new hotels; Delta cuts in Orlando, Boston and Los Angeles; TSA security screeners now dress like cops; why is this man buying US Airways Stock?; Avis joins the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plan; United says Chicago has no meeting space; and much more.

June 12 Briefing for Business Travelers
United and US Airways add a $15 domestic first checked bag fee; US Airways will also charge coach flyers for all beverages and to claim frequent flyer awards. Continental chops 15 airports off the route map. Two fare increases fail, so the Big Six add $20 to the fuel surcharge; and more.

June 5 Briefing for Business Travelers
Hotels start to play "Let's Make a Deal"; United kills Ted in its big system cutback, Continental whacks at its domestic capacity; tipping the (luggage) scales at the airport; more interesting hotels in interesting places; bankrupt Aloha's best asset is a lawsuit; Spirit Airlines readying huge service cuts; and more.

May 29 Briefing for Business Travelers
Paper tickets are gone and paper boarding passes are next; introducing the Ex Files, our weekly look at all the cuts fit to print; American adds a fee for all AAdvantage awards; BA finalizes its T5 move schedule; the fees and fare increases keep coming; the TSA's no-solution bag solution for laptops; and much more.

May 22 Briefing for Business Travelers
How deep will the Big Six route cuts be? Southwest ratchets up the pressure in Denver; BA's OpenSkies launches June 19; of course they'll match American's first-bag fee; more notable hotel conversions and flag shifts; labor woes at the Greenbrier; and much more.

May 15 Briefing for Business Travelers
Small-town airports hit as Air Midwest folds; register your opinions about life on the Road; BA moves New York flights to Heathrow T5 next month; Rome opens a terminal just for U.S. flights; parity for the Big Six and alternate airlines; fast(er) Customs clearance for U.S citizens; United dumps Mileage Plus' 500-mile minimum; and more.

May 8 Briefing for Business Travelers
Say goodbye to some of your favorite routes; new hotels and reflaggings keep on coming; JetBlue won't add flights at LAX after all; Air One flies to Milan from Boston and Chicago; TSA self-select lanes expand to 12 airports; ExpressJet may be the next airline to go; China admits it has tightened visa rules; and much more.

May 1 Briefing for Business Travelers
Another week of soaring fares and fees; new hotels and reflaggings keep on coming; JAL adds a 'fourth' class on some U.S. flights; US Airways is cashing out its hub in Las Vegas; Virgin Atlantic drops the in-flight massages; Continental pulls out of Chicago/Midway; Silverjet says it has new cash to keep flying; and more.

April 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
Who knew the Big Six still had good will to lose?; more hotels open in more important places; United Airlines tries a massive fare increase; get the icky stuff off your laptop hard drive; Frontier shrinks and Southwest grows in Denver; Atlanta won't open registered-traveler lanes; JetBlue will charge to check a second bag; and more.

April 17 Briefing for Business Travelers
This week: The only way to buy plane tickets? Credit cards!; much ado about a minor travel problem; why you can't believe what you read about travel; more fare hikes and bad news about the dollar; US Airways will charge for 'choice' coach seats; United cuts another flight attendant from its B-757 flights; and much more.

April 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
More fees and fare hikes from the airlines; Air Canada expands transborder service again; Alaska Airlines adds flights from Maui to Seattle; Frontier Airlines files for Ch. 11, but keeps flying; several airports stranded by Skybus' demise; a new Amex Card will offer elite Delta miles; British Airways delays move of U.S. flights to T5; and more.

April 3 Briefing for Business Travelers
You may want to rethink that Hawaiian holiday now; good news and (mostly) bad news at Heathrow's T5; another sleazy money grab by an airline CEO; fees keep piling up, but a fare rise flounders; United adds free Wi-Fi at the Red Carpet Clubs; Air Canada's cynical new "service' program; still more on driver's licenses as airport ID; and much more.

March 27 Briefing for Business Travelers
Orwellian (or Seinfeldian) acts at the hotel front desk; Delta continues to bail on Boston/Logan; Marriott introduces walk-up award redemption; good news and bad at security checkpoints; the word on T5's opening at Heathrow: chaos; SkyMiles adds Hawaiian Airlines, but not for flights to Hawaii; New York's passenger's rights bill strikes out; and much more.

March 20 Briefing for Business Travelers
The Big Six guessed wrong on oil, so here come the service cuts; the next to go are longer-haul international flights; Delta and United slash airport-club networks; JetBlue adds more room in coach--for a fee; Doubletree opens in Vendorville; Air France makes its bid for Alitalia; Aloha Airlines flies into bankruptcy again; airlines pile on the price increases and new fees; and much more.

March 13 Briefing for Business Travelers
The TSA finds a reason to speed up security; the 'smoke-filled' Blackstone reopens in Chicago; Emirates and Qatar Airways add new U.S. flights; down goes the dollar, up go the fares and fees; Delta goes to Shanghai, Ritz opens in Guangzhou; Canadian airlines start Calgary-Newark flights; Charlotte travelers get new western nonstops; and much more.

March 6 Briefing for Business Travelers
US Airways goes from worst to first the Mussolini way; get ready for the Heathrow land rush; JetBlue and AirTran connect the dots; Singapore Air gives Up on executive economy; Continental shuffles its flights at Newark; ATA drops flights at Midway Airport; Delta Air Lines starts flagging carry-ons; and much more.

February 28 Briefing for Business Travelers
A big month for new airport openings; It's wild! It's wacky! It's airport security!; Delta shuffles its international service--again; the dollar hits bottom against global currencies; Starwood Preferred Guest raises award prices; BA and Virgin will refund some fuel surcharges; US Airways will charge for a second checked bag; and more.

February 14 Briefing for Business Travelers
Alternate carriers grow while the Big Six contract; all a Liverpool hotel needs is a Beatles hook; big news for smaller cities on the route map; good news from Hilton HHonors and bad news from US Airways Dividend Miles; say goodbye to some international routes; Continental will add at-seat TV service next year; so much for "premium service" at United Airlines; and much more.

February 7 Briefing for Business Travelers
United's move to limit checked-baggage allowances for some travelers led me to plow through the rules imposed by all the nation's major carriers. You'll be surprised: The airlines don't move in lockstep on bags. Some carriers really do offer more liberal limits than others. And then there is United, the first with the worst, leading the charge in the other direction.

January 24 Briefing for Business Travelers
Failed fuel surcharges and cowardly carriers; the hotel rush continues around the world; Southwest Airlines is growing again in Denver; Alaska Airlines and Virgin America battle in Seattle; the dollar hits a three-year low against the yen; Dollar Rent a Car invents a new surcharge on car rentals; a concourse extension and new gates at Dulles; and much more.

January 10 Briefing for Business Travelers
Big Six merger talk makes a comeback; airfares rise again, even in Hawaii; gain some, lose more at the smaller airports; the skies open and British Airways dips its toe in; Southwest slashes its checked-bag allowance; watch out for possible strike action at Qantas; Citibank raises international ATM fees; and more.

January 3 Briefing for Business Travelers
Britain dumps the hated one-bag carry-on rule; Hyatt is out at two Grand Cayman hotels; Virgin Atlantic cancels flights before a strike; the Big Six add another domestic fuel surcharge; more confusing news on the new battery rule; United takes over some old US Airways routes; what to expect on the road in January; and more.

These columns originally appeared at

Copyright 1993-2008 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.