The Tactical Traveler

FOR OCTOBER 19, 1999


This week: By-the-day office rentals; airlines promote online bookings via mileage bonuses; carriers fill-in route networks with new flights to second-tier and seasonal destinations; Delta buys Comair; the nonstop Heathrow Express rail link between Heathrow Airport and London's Paddington Station is still out of service; junk food prices around the globe and more.

COST CUTTERS: Office Rentals by the Day
Need to rent an office or a meeting room while you're out of town or out of the country on business? Believe it or not, there's a service similar to the airlines' airport club networks. The Touchdown [] program is sponsored by Regus (800-747-4934), which operates 210 business centers in more than 40 countries around the world. Touchdown members receive a membership card and pay about $75 a year for the right to rent fully-equipped, fully-staffed office suites or conference rooms for as little as half a day. Rental fees vary by location (two examples: $90 a day in Atlanta's Buckhead business district or $150 a day in Midtown Manhattan), but daily rates average about half the price of a full-service hotel room in the city. Services can be reserved by telephone or the Regus website and rental fees are billed to any major credit card.

BEST OF THE WEB: Airline Dot Com Deals
U.S. carriers are throwing bonus miles all over their websites in a concerted attempt to direct your bookings to the Internet. United and Continental each offer 4,000 bonus miles for the first ticket you book at their respective sites. Delta offers 5,000 bonus miles for first-time bookers and another 10,000 bonus miles if you purchase five on-line tickets by December 31. And all carriers now give a standard 1,000-mile bonus every time you book a ticket at their dot com sites.

Why are the airlines so anxious to have you book on their website? Cost savings. TWA president and chief executive Bill Compton recently said his airline saves $25-$30 per ticket booked on its site [] compared to tickets purchased through traditional travel agents.

ROUTE WATCH: Fill-In Flights
The airlines continue to fill-in their route networks with new flights to second-tier and seasonal destinations. Air Canada [] (888-247-2262) has launched daily nonstop service between Washington/Dulles and Halifax, Nova Scotia using 50-seat Canadair RJs. The flight is a code-share with United and Air Canada and United frequent-flyer members receive triple miles until December 18. Midway Airlines [] (800-446-4392) now operates three daily nonstops between Louisville, Kentucky and the carrier's hub at Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. These flights also use Canadair RJs. Vanguard Airlines [] (800-VANGUARD) has announced seasonal service to Myrtle Beach from Pittsburgh, Buffalo/Niagara Falls and Cincinnati. The flights will operate February 19-October 28, 2000.

ON THE FLY: News You Need to Know
Delta Air Lines [] is buying Comair [], the commuter carrier best known as Delta's feeder service at Cincinnati. Continental [] and America West [] now "interline" on electronic tickets. That means E-tix issued on one airline are valid on the other without requiring the ticket be reissued on paper stock first. The two carriers, which have cross ownership and code-share agreements, are the first to offer interlined E-tix. Zero Halliburton [] (801-298-5900), best known for its line of aluminum briefcases, has introduced a series of laptop computer bags. The aluminum cases have interior padding and compartments for floppy disks and CDs. Prices start at $249.50. Forty seven passengers, including one American, were injured last week when a China Southern jet hit strong turbulence before it landed at Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong. The nonstop Heathrow Express [] rail link between Heathrow Airport and London's Paddington Station was still out of action as of October 19, 1999. The service has been affected by the fatal crash of two commuter trains near Paddington earlier this month. Travelers arriving at Heathrow can take the London Underground or the Airbus motorcoach to Victoria Station. For more information, visit the Heathrow website [].

BY THE NUMBERS: Junk Food Prices Around the World
Got a craving for a quarter-pound burger, some fries and a drink? The gleeful number crunchers at Runzheimer International (800-558-1702), the travel-management consultancy, knows how much you'll spend when you hit the road. A fast-food meal will run you an eye-popping US$8.81 in Copenhagen and equally shocking $8.53 in Geneva. At the other end of the price scale, however, you'll pay just $2.69 in Warsaw and $2.79 in Hong Kong. Among other world capitals, you'll pay less in Paris ($5.00) than London ($6.29), Brussels ($6.49) or Tokyo ($6.00). And you're much better indulging your junk-food peccadillo in Lisbon ($3.38) than Madrid ($5.18).

This column originally appeared at

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