The Tactical Traveler



This week: The last fare sale of the year; FAA says 565 airports are prepped for possible Y2K disruptions; popularity of private-jet “timeshares” grows; TIA/OAG "Survey of Business Travelers” spotlights travel patterns; and more.

COST CUTTERS: The Last Fare Sale of the Year
You've got until Friday, November 12, to cash in on what is likely to be the last across-the-board fare sale of the year. Major carriers have slashed their lowest leisure-travel prices by about 30 percent--with an additional 5 percent discount for travelers who buy tickets on the airlines' proprietary web sites. Sample prices before the Internet discount: $358 roundtrip between Boston and Los Angeles on United (; $329 between New York and Paris on American (; and $338 between Phoenix and Ottawa on USAirways ( Although restrictions vary slightly by carrier, the fares generally require a 14-day advance purchase and a Saturday-night stay. Travel generally must be completed by February 17 for U.S. travel, February 29 for Canadian flights, and late March for European destinations. Travel dates around the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays are largely blacked out.

BEST OF THE WEB: Private-Jet Time Shares
The bizarre air crash of a private jet carrying golfer Payne Stewart late last month coincidentally shed light on one of the fastest-growing trends in business travel: "fractional ownership" of costly corporate aircraft. A plethora of firms offer fractional-ownership plans, which are the corporate-travel equivalent of condominium time shares. Under fractional ownership programs, travelers or corporations buy a block of travel time and the lessor provides aircraft, pilots, crew, maintenance and related details. These plans are increasingly popular with companies looking for the convenience of on-demand corporate jets without the fuss and bother of owning a fleet of planes. Using a private jet, travelers fly nonstop rather than on connecting commercial flights, avoid crowded hub airports, and often can fly to an airport closer to their final destination. Best of all, when amortized over a year, the price per passenger per flight is often no higher than standard commercial airfares. NetJets, controlled by legendary investor Warren Buffett, commands about half the fractional-ownership market. Other players include: FlexJet, a division of Bombardier, manufacturer of the Learjet and Challenger aircraft; Wayfarer, founded by the Rockefeller family; Flight Options; and Raytheon, which specializes in Beechcraft and other Raytheon planes.

ON THE FLY: News You Need to Know
The Federal Aviation Administration says all 565 of the nation's regulated airports are prepared for possible disruptions caused by Y2K issues. … Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport ( has opened a new, 12-gate concourse in Terminal 4. The gates will be used by America West (, the leading full-service carrier at Sky Harbor. … USAirways Express ( begins three daily nonstop flights between Reagan National Airport in Washington and Toronto on December 5. Fifty-seat regional jets will be used on the route. … To capitalize on the upcoming ski-season traffic, Horizon Air ( will launch turboprop service between Boise and Sun Valley, Idaho, on December 18. The daily roundtrip, at 12:30pm, is timed to offer quick connections for travelers arriving in Boise on morning flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and Denver. … National Airlines, the 6-month-old airline backed by Las Vegas casinos, will launch two daily Las Vegas-Miami nonstops on January 27.

Scholars, marketing type and academicians seem to be involved in a never-ending quest to define who business travelers are and how many of us there are. The latest attempt comes from the Travel Industry Association ( and OAG ( According to the TIA/OAG "Survey of Business Travelers," 43.9 million adults in the United States took at least one business trip in 1998. The "average" business trip, the report said, was 3.3 nights away from home. About 20 percent of business travelers combined business and vacation on their last business trip. About one-third of those 43.9 million travelers participated in at least one frequent-flyer program, the survey added.

This column originally appeared at

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