The Tactical Traveler

FOR APRIL 6, 1998


This week: Unfair fares on code-share flights; useful downloads from AT&T; the Tokyo two-step on flights on slots; Trump gets it right on Broadway; how in-flight food is changing on long-haul flights; and much more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Unfair Fares on Code Shares
So you'd think that airlines sharing codes would charge the same price for seats on their code-shared flights. Think again. Illogical as it sounds, each airline in a code-share arrangement sets its own fares. The inevitable result? Unfair fares and pricing chaos. One example: Book a round-trip flight in business class between Chicago and Prague on United Airlines and you'll pay $4,808. But call Lufthansa, United's code-share partner, and it will sell you a ticket for $4,256. Same planes, same flights, same service, but a price difference of more than $500. The lesson: Check the fares of both carriers before booking any code-shared flight.

CYBERTRAVELER: Downloading the Digits
AT&T's sprawling web site ( is chock full of juicy nuggets of useful business-travel information. For instance, point your browser to and you'll find a nifty piece of software called "AT&T Laptop Access." The program is designed to help you automatically access E-mail, the Internet, or your company's local area network from overseas. Once downloaded onto your laptop, the software allows you to click on the country you are calling from, then automatically dial all the appropriate digits. That eliminates the time-consuming and often frustrating process of manually entering long international dialing protocols, AT&T Direct's local-access telephone numbers, and your AT&T Calling Card number.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Bilateral Baloney in Tokyo
It took years for the bureaucrats representing the United States and Japan to hammer out a new bilateral aviation treaty. Now that we have one, the net result is zilch for business travelers hoping for more flights and lower fares to Tokyo's Narita Airport. Although the treaty specifically calls for new flights and several airlines have announced new service to Tokyo, no take-off or landing slots are available at Narita. No slots means no new flights. Federal Express has unused slots it would gladly sell, but the Japanese Transport Minister says he won't allow slot sales. That obstructionist baloney conveniently protects Japan's two ailing carriers, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, from any new competition. It also stymies American Airlines' attempt to challenge United and Northwest, the overpriced U.S. incumbents at Narita.

IN THE LOBBY: Trump Gets It Right on Broadway
Donald Trump is the stereotype of what a good business person shouldn't be, but give him credit for this one: The Trump International Hotel & Tower (800-323-7500) is a terrific addition to New York's hotel scene. Carved out of the old Gulf+Western office building on Broadway, the Trump International has just 167 accommodations and 129 of them are astonishingly large one- or two-bedroom suites. In fact, the lodgings seem more like apartments than hotel rooms. The property also houses a top-drawer fitness center and spa and an extraordinary restaurant, Jean Georges, the new bistro from John Georges Vongerichten. The hotel also offers a raft of special services: Free use of cell phones, on-demand computers, and a chef-on-call plan that has one of Vongerichten's acolytes cook your meals en suite. Even by New York standards, the Trump International ain't cheap (retail rates start at $395 a night), but it is a great place to impress a client, close a big deal, then celebrate your victory.

The question: Do business travelers really care about in-flight food? For the answer, we went to Peter Ho, Cathay Pacific's regional catering manager for North America. "Meals are still important on long-haul flights, especially for our repeat customers," he says. "It's also a fun thing, something to do, part of the in-flight entertainment. So now on flights we offer noodles, pizza, calzone, and Haagen-Dazs ice-cream bars." Passengers also prefer less structured in-flight meal service, Ho believes. "The trend is to an a la carte service, a buffet service," he says. "People don't want to be controlled. Even in first class, you're confined to a seat that's six by six feet, so you don't want to be told what to eat and when to eat it."

You've only got until April 15 to cash in on a sweet suite deal at the sleek Four Seasons (800-332-3442) hotels in Philadelphia and Toronto. Request the "Amex Executive Offer" and charge your room to an American Express Card and you'll receive: Confirmed upgrade to a suite; sedan transportation to your first appointment; amenities such as free movies, cordials, chocolates and cigars; and a $25 AT&T long-distance gift certificate. The special price: $190 a night in Toronto and $260 a night in Philadelphia.

This column originally appeared at

Copyright 1993-2007 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.