The Tactical Traveler

FOR JANUARY 11, 1999


This week: The new Salk airport-transit guide is out; air-travel fatalities continue to decline; quadruple dipping at Hilton HHonors; a dining delight in Honolulu; and more.

When Italian authorities moved the bulk of Milan's flights from close-in Linate Airport to distant Malpensa in October, did you know cab fares quadrupled? A cab from Malpensa to the center city is about $80 compared the $19 ride from Linate. And did you know that you can avoid the overpriced "hyena" cabs charging as much as $50 at Budapest's Ferihegy by using a service called "Airport Minibus." You'll pay about only $5.50 on an 8-seat minibus and still be driven to any address in the Hungarian capital. You'd know all this time- and money-saving information if you had a copy of Salk International's Airport Transit Guide, the little white book of airport transportation. The 144-page, pocket-sized booklet is an exhaustive summary of terminal-to-city transportation options at more than 400 major airports around the world. It covers car rentals, helicopters, airport-parking rates, and every available type of public and private transit scheme. The price for this little gem, now in its 18th edition, is incredibly reasonable at $9.95 postpaid. No business travelers should be without it. Get your copy of the 1999 edition from Magellan's Travel Catalog at 800-962-4943 or

I hate websites that charge for their information and display advertising. I especially hate newspaper websites that charge you even if you're a subscriber to the print edition. That said, however, I don't regret spending $29 for my annual subscription to the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, the web version of the redoubtable business newspaper. Besides an electronic edition of the print product, you get free access to a 30-day archive of past material and additional stories and information from Barron's[ital] and other sources. There's also a web-only product called Business Fare, a business-travel guide most notable for the pithy contributions of writer Jane Costello. Subscribers to the print edition of the Journal pay $29 a year for the web version; non-subscribers pay $49 annually.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Most Important Stat
It goes without saying that U.S. airlines charge too much, give too little service, lose too many checked bags, and have awful on-time performances. But let's give credit where credit is due: not a single passenger died on a U.S. commercial flight anywhere in the world during 1998. According to National Transportation Safety Board figures released last week, the nation's scheduled jet and commuter airlines carried 615 million passengers without a fatality last year. This was the first year since the NTSB began compiling statistics in 1967 that no passenger was killed on either a scheduled jet or turboprop. Does this mean that the U.S. airline industry has reached the "zero-fatality" plateau some regulators believe is theoretically possible? Of course not. No matter how vigilant the airlines are on safety issues, planes will crash in the future. Travelers will die. But that doesn't minimize the achievement of 1998. For one year, at least, we flew safely without mourning for any of our fellow travelers.

JOE SENT ME: Dining Delight in Honolulu
When you get to Honolulu, head directly to Chef Mavro Restaurant (808-944-4714), which opened last month just outside the hectic Waikiki area. The new dining room is spearheaded by George Mavrothalassitis, the acclaimed former top toque at the exquisite La Mer Restaurant in the Halekulani hotel and the executive chef at the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea, Maui. He also operated restaurants in Marseilles and Cassis, France, before arriving in Hawaii. What will you eat at Chef Mavro? Inventive, intensely flavorful food (and especially fish) that draws on the best French and Hawaiian flavors without becoming that ludicrous parody called "Pacific Rim" cuisine. Chances are the best meal you'll have in your life will come from Mavrothalassitis' kitchen. At Chef Mavro, Mavrothalassitis is planning a new menu every month and he has paired every dish with a specific wine sold by the glass. EntrŽe prices start at $27; price-fixed, three-course menus start at $48 ($66 with matching wines). Trust me on this one, fellow travelers. Book a table at Chef Mavro and tell George that "Joe Sent Me."

THE WEEKLY WONDER: Quadruple Dipping
"Double dipping" is what savvy business travelers call earning airline frequent-flyer miles and frequent-guest points for the same hotel stay. Until March 31, however, the Hilton HHonors program is offering what can only be called quadruple dipping. Travelers who charge qualifying Hilton or Conrad International stays to the American Express card will receive 1,000 miles (instead of the normal 500) in any of eight frequent-flyer plans. They'll also receive double Hilton HHonors points for the stay. For rules, restrictions and other information, contact Hilton at 800-HILTONS.

This column originally appeared at

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