The Tactical Traveler



This week: The last big fare sale of the year; another 'worldwide caution' from the State Department; the rising cost of rental cars; why Mr. Bean is popular worldwide in flight; Omni dumps in-room porn; a week in Barbados--and a flight on Concorde; and more.

The last big fare sale of the season is scheduled to expire on Friday, November 12. The major carriers are offering about 30 percent off their lowest priced restricted fares on most domestic routes. Tickets must be purchased 14 days in advance and travel must be completed by February 17. An equally attractive international fare sale will continue to December 8. Restrictions and travel dates vary by carrier but prices are as low as $298 (New York to London) and $358 (Washington/Dulles to Frankfurt). Meanwhile, major hotel chains are gearing up their traditional end-of-the-season room sales. Generally speaking, rate reductions will begin Thanksgiving week and run through December 29. Courtyard by Marriott, for example, has end-of-year rates as low as $44 a night. Other hotel chains are offering similarly deep discounts.

CYBERTRAVELER: Electronic Safety Watch
The U.S. State Department has issued a new Worldwide Caution [], which urges travelers to "remain vigilant with regard to their personal security." Issued November 5, State says the announcement is not in response to "any one particular threat but to emphasize ongoing concern for Americans overseas." By the way, the State Department [] now allows you to subscribe to various news lists, including its "Travel Advisories" and Consular Information Sheets. Advisories are issued whenever State believes dangerous situation exist in a country. The emergency announcements are delivered directly to your Email.

AIRPORT REPORT: The Rising Cost of Rental Cars
Rental cars have traditionally been one of the best bargains in travel, thanks primarily to cut-throat price competition in the rental business and an oversupply of vehicles. But daily rates have been rising rapidly in recent years and Runzheimer International, the travel-consulting firm, notes another distressing pricing trend. "Car-rental companies have unbundled rates," says Runzheimer senior consultant Rolfe Shellenberger. "Airport fees and taxes are no longer included in posted rates. There is gasoline and optional insurance that must be considered. All of these factors can raise the price you pay considerably." Daily rates are now startlingly high in some cities, notes a Runzheimer survey of the average cost of an intermediate vehicle with unlimited mileage. Renting in Manhattan, the nation's most costly city, costs $92 a day, followed by $81 in Houston, $79 in Oklahoma City, $78.50 in Boston, $76.50 in Atlanta and $76 in Charlotte and Denver. At the other end of the scale, a daily rental in Honolulu is just $38, followed by Manchester, New Hampshire, at $40.50 a day.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A Few Words About Inflight Entertainment
Ever wonder how airlines choose programming for in-flight entertainment? Here are some thoughts on the air-travel omnipresence of Mr. Bean, the British sitcom that stars Rowan Atkinson as a nearly mute super-nerd. The writer is Bruce Dessau, commenting in "Rowan Atkinson," a biography that has just hit British bookstores. "The inclusion of Bean videos in airline in-flight entertainment packages helped to make Bean a global success. The ubiquitous Mr. Bean episodes have become the lingua franca of international travel. The success of the character could be put down to the growth in long-haul travel and the desperate need for family-oriented entertainment. Where other shows had to be subtitled or edited, Mr. Bean fit the bill so perfectly that it seemed as if it had been made with mass airline consumption in mind."

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Omni Hotels announced Wednesday that it would remove adult pay-per-view movies from guest-room televisions. The 40-hotel chain said it expected to lose revenue from the decision, but "money is not the issue," said Peter Strebel, Omni's vice president of marketing. "Not all business decisions should be fiscally driven. We believe this is the right thing to do." Northwest Airlines is adding a Wednesday nonstop flight from its Detroit hub to Nagoya, Japan. Effective December 1, the service linking the world's two largest car-manufacturing centers will operate four times weekly.

THE WEEKLY WONDER: The Concorde Bargain to Barbados
A roundtrip flight on the British Airways Concorde between New York and London will cost you more than $10,000 a ticket. But if you want to fly the world's only supersonic jet at a huge discount--and get a week in the sun with a friend as a bonus--consider the "Barbados in Style" package from British Airways Holidays (800-222-7342). For prices that start as low as $9,000 a couple, the package includes: roundtrip Concorde flights for two between New York and Barbados; seven nights accommodations; airport transfers in Barbados; and taxes and service charges. The package is available for seven Saturday departures in February and March.

This column originally appeared at

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