The Tactical Traveler

FOR OCTOBER 10, 1999


This week: Frequent Flyer magazine dissects the world’s Business Class cabins; winners, losers and myths revealed in a DOT report; get free or low-cost hotel stays with airline "stay-on-the-way" programs; United and Delta add mileage-purchase options to frequent flyer programs; hotel rebrandings and more.

BEST OF THE WEB: The Annual Business-Class Primer
Few business travelers see Frequent Flyer, since the magazine's owner insists you buy it in conjunction with the obsolete, overpriced OAG Pocket Flight Guide. But Flyer has made it onto the web in time for the October issue [], which includes the magazine's annual business-class coverage. It's a sterling package of stories and charts that dissect the world's Business Class cabins. The charts are chock full of useful data on 48 carriers--including seat configurations, pitch, width and seat recline--and the feature stories focus on the impact of airline alliances on business cabins.

BY THE NUMBERS: Winners, Losers and Myths in DOT Report
The Air Travel Consumer Report [] for August was released by the Department of Transportation last week and there are some familiar winners and losers. For the eighth time in 13 months, TWA [] posted the industry's best on-time record. It's 85 percent rating was about 10 points higher than the average of the nation's 10 largest airlines. At the bottom of the ranking for the second consecutive month was America West [], which could only muster a 62.5 on-time average. … Meanwhile, the report exposed the myth of widespread denied boarding (or "bumping"). For the first six months of 1999, the DOT report said, just 1.15 passengers in 10,000 were involuntarily bumped. … Also worth noting: United [] Flight 2393 from Seattle to San Francisco. It arrived late 25 of the 31 times it operated in August; the average delay was a staggering 86 minutes.

COST CUTTERS: Stay-on-the-Way Programs
It's infrequently publicized, but airlines often offer free or low-cost hotel stays when you book your international itinerary through their home city. Generically called "stay-on-the-way" programs, the promotions permit you to spend a night or more at the airline's hub city between connecting flights.

One example: the "Vienna on Us" deal from Austrian Airlines [] (800-843-0002). Travelers who purchase a full-fare "Grand Class" (business class) ticket to any destination beyond Austria receive a free overnight stay at any of six Vienna hotels. The "Emirates Stopover in Dubai" from Emirates [] (800-777-3999) is even more extensive. Regardless of class, travelers flying beyond Dubai pay just $29 a night for accommodations, breakfast, and airport transfers. Among other carriers offering stay-on-the-way deals: Iberia [] (800-772-4642); Cathay Pacific [] (800-233-2742); and SAS [] (800-221-2350].

ON THE FLY: News You Need to Know
Checked into your favorite Marriott [] hotel only to learn it has become a Wyndham []? Join the crowd. Eight Marriott hotels and resorts have switched to the Wyndham brand since August. Included are properties in Syracuse, Key West, and Colorado Springs and at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. … LTU International [] of Germany has joined Europe By Air [] (888-387-2479), the intra-Europe air-pass program. Europe By Air coupons cost $99 each, are valid on any of 15 participating carriers, and can be used between any of 125 cities. … United [] and Delta Air Lines [] have added a mileage-purchase option to their respective frequent flyer programs. Miles cost 2.5 cents each to buy; some restrictions apply. … Pan Am (603-766-2000) resumed scheduled service last week with flights between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Orlando/Sanford, Florida. The company is now owned by Guilford Transportation, a railroad company that bought the bankrupt carrier last year.

This column originally appeared at

Copyright © 1999-2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.