The Tactical Traveler

FOR JULY 20, 1998


This week: The taxi cab conundrum in dangerous cities; hearing the news on the Web; deregulation doesn't play in Period; Cathay's All-Asia Pass improves; Sofitel's summer deals; and more.

The U.S. State Department issued a safety alert for Jakarta last week and again the problem was street cabs. Two foreigners were killed after entering cabs hailed on the streets of Jakarta, so State is now advising travelers to use only "hotel" cars, cabs taken from the queue of a major hotel, or taxis called from a reputable radio company. The same has long been true for Mexico City, Moscow, and other socially and economically depressed cities; foreigners who hail street cabs are often mugged or attacked by the cab driver and his accomplices. For safety's sake, adopt a new rule for most overseas destinations: Don't hail a street cab for any reason. Use only a cab company recommended by your hotel or have the hotel arrange for a private car. And be sure to follow this recommendation at remote locations. Resist the impulse to hail a street cab after departing a restaurant, nightclub or office building. Take a moment to call ahead and have a private car or radio cab waiting for you while complete your business.

CYBERTRAVELER: Hearing the News
One of the niftiest features of the Internet is the ability to hear live radio or television broadcasts from around the world through your computer. That gives you the opportunity to hear the news from home via your local radio or TV station regardless of where you're traveling. To accomplish this bit of digital wizardry, you'll need to download free software from RealNetworks ( It's simple to download and simple to use, and a super-deluxe version of the software is available for a small fee. Then point your web browser to (, which offers live audio from hundreds of radio and television stations around the country and the world. Another bonus at the site: live audio of the BBC World Service, a radio service many frequent flyers rely on overseas, but can't find on the dial back home in the United States.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Deregulation's Toll
Airline deregulation has been good for leisure travelers: In real dollars, restricted fares are lower than 20 years ago and there's a wider selection of flights to the most popular vacation destinations. But woe to us business travelers. We've been socked hard in the last 20 years. Consider business travelers based in or needing to reach Peoria, which is what the crack analysts at Morten Beyer & Associates recently did. In 1978, before deregulation, there were 50 daily jet flights to Peoria from 17 cities. Today, Peoria has nonstop or direct service to only eight cities, and virtually all of those flights are on small turboprops. The fare comparison is even more chilling. In 1978, the walkup fare for a roundtrip between Peoria and Washington, DC, was $170. Today's walkup fare: $762, which includes the flights on a 19-seater to and from an airline hub. In case you're having trouble with the math, 1998's fare is about 4.5 higher than the 1978 fare.

No one has been more aggressive in dealing with its declining Asian traffic than Cathay Pacific, the top-flight airline based in Hong Kong. The carrier's All-Asia Pass, already a bargain at $999 roundtrip, has just been enhanced. The basic All-Asia Pass permits coach travel from New York or Los Angeles to Hong Kong and as many as 17 other cities within 30 days. Now the price of a confirmed Business Class upgrade to Hong Kong has been cut to $999; First Class upgrades have been reduced to $1,999. Other All-Asia Pass improvements include fewer blackout dates and additional "optional" cities in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand that can be visited for as little as $200 each. For more information on the pass, contact Cathay Pacific at 800-CATHAY7 or

THE WEEKLY WONDER: Sofitel's Summer Sale
You've got until August 30 to take advantage of "Summer Sale" prices at more than 50 Sofitel hotels in the United States and Europe. Prices start at $130 a night at the Sofitels at the Vienna, Paris and Madrid airports; rise to $150 at the Hotel Astoria in Brussels and the Sofitel in Moscow; are $170 at the Sofitels in Rome and Los Angeles; and top at $220 a night at the Sofitels in Venice and Rhodes, Greece. Rates include breakfast and most taxes.

This column originally appeared at

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