The Brancatelli File for 1995
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT JOE
Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He is also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer magazine and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He began his career as a business reporter and created JoeSentMe.com in the dark days after 9/11 while stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in Cold Spring, New York.


December 30: INTERNET TICKETING IS A PAIN IN THE DISK
There's a lot of travel data available on the World Wide Web and other provinces of the Internet. But the blunt truth is that the quality and accessibility of that information is distressingly low. At least as far as travel is concerned, the Internet is a silicon slum of slyly disguised advertising, oddball anecdotes, and stale news and commentary siphoned from other media.

December 15: YOUR QUESTIONS, MY ANSWERS
Here are my answers to your questions about lost airline tickets; aging cars in the rental fleets; the value of frequent flyer miles; the problems at the new Denver airport; and more.

December 1: AFTER THE STORMS IN TRAVELAND
Finding your place in the sun this winter may be a challenge after the rapid-fire series of natural disasters that battered the Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida this summer and fall. But fear not: there are still many beaches and islands prepared for visitors. You simply must know the facts before choosing a destination.

November 20: BUYING A TOUR PACKAGE WITHOUT GETTING BURNED
The abrupt shutdown earlier this year of two well-known tour operators sounds a wake-up call for all travelers. You should purchase tour and travel packages with extreme care and you must guard your financial flanks. Here's how to avoid getting burned.

November 15: BEAT THE RISING COST OF HOTELS AND RESORTS
Few new hotels are being built and existing rooms are filling up fast. As a result, hoteliers have been able to impose price increases that far outstrip the national inflation rate. Travelers paid an average nightly rate of $65.79 this June--12.6 percent more than they paid in June 1991. But take heart: Good hotel and resort deals are still available. Use the following guide.

November 2: THE CAREFUL TRAVELER
If you're a skittish business traveler, these are especially difficult times. The mysterious Unabomber threatens California airports, terrorists target travelers everywhere, and scam artists scheme to get access to your credit cards and your cellular-phone number. Unfortunately, there's no black box or magic bullet to make you safe.

November 1: LOWERING THE COST OF FLYING HIGH
The take-no-prisoners fare war raging between Southwest Airlines and United Shuttle leaves Bay Area travelers with a badly skewed view of airfares. Ticket prices within California and around the Pacific Northwest may be dropping, but elsewhere the airlines are jacking up fares with wild abandon.

October 29: CAN SALESPEOPLE BECOME BETTER BUSINESS TRAVELERS?
How do you become a better, smarter, more savvy traveler? One way is to get out there on the road, live the life, and figure it all out along the way. But Chris McGinnis believes there's a better--and less expensive--way. And several other sales executives in the travel industry also offer sage advice.

October 22: WHEN SWITZER TALKS, THE AIRLINES LISTEN
A high-mileage business traveler for more than 40 years, Israel Switzer has written several thousand complaint letters to airlines around the world. His missives--about food quality, fares, connections, baggage snafus, airport hassles and aircraft--almost always get a reply. And they often convince an offending airline to clean up its act.

October 15: THE SAVVY SALESPERSON'S GUIDE TO SMART TRAVEL
You probably think the best way to get a comfortable coach seat is to book early. Wrong. And you probably think that a routing with a single flight number means a nonstop flight. Wrong again. And you probably even think that nobody could undercut a hotel on the price of its own rooms. Wrong. In fact, everything you know about business travel is probably wrong. But if you want to travel smarter, cheaper, and more comfortably, try implementing some of these tips.

October 2: MILES AREN'T FREE
Salespeople may have to start glancing at the odometer again because the days of renting cars with unlimited free miles could be numbered. Hard-pressed by rising costs, the nation's major car-rental firms may soon be charging you a fee for every mile you drive.

October 1: ROUND-THE-WORLD AIRFARES: MORE OPTIONS THAN EVER
The romantic notion of traveling around the world gets a practical boost in December when United Airlines launches round-the-world flights. Yet United's singular feat obscures several crucial facts. Travelers can already purchase round-the-world itineraries from other airlines working as partners. They won't save money or fly more comfortably if they buy United's service.

September 1: THE OUTLET MALLS OF AIRLINE TICKETS
Desperately seeking discounts on international airline tickets during this year of the weakened dollar? Ask your travel agent to help you find a bargain-priced ticket from an "airline consolidator," the travel industry's equivalent of a factory-outlet store. Carriers sell their excess inventory at wholesale prices to the consolidators, who then resell the tickets to travel agents and travelers.

August 15: OFF-SEASON TRAVEL: WHERE AND WHEN TO GO
Smart flyers travel in the off-season, the times of year when prices are low, crowds are small, and the weather is, if not perfect, usually fine for touring. But be wary of rock-bottom deals that could leave you shivering in Siberia in January or slogging through India during the monsoon season.

August 1: LIFE WITH LAPTOP
A dozen years ago, my first "portable" computer weighed 35 pounds, never fit under the airline seat in front of me, and couldn't operate on battery power. This year's model, my fourth, weighs about six pounds, slips into a corner of my carry-on bag, and runs on a rechargeable battery. But life with laptop in 1995 is not the life of Riley.

July 2: FLYING PROP-ER PLANES
The incontrovertible fact of the matter is that flying remains the single safest way to travel in the United States. But business travelers remain especially wary of the "commuter" airlines, the regional carriers that fly smaller, propeller-driven aircraft. And statistics indicate that there is some difference between the safety records of jets and prop planes.

July 1: YOUR TRAVEL QUESTIONS, MY ANSWERS
There's nothing worse than a talking-head travel "expert" who thinks he has all the answers--especially when no one asked him a question. So here are some of your recent questions to me. And my best answers to those insightful queries.

June 15: BOATS AND HEAT, THE BANE OF SUMMER TRAVEL
Many smaller pleasure crafts now must carry a life jacket for each passenger on board., according to a newly minted U.S. Coast Guard regulation that may help travelers feel safer about recreational boating. Unfortunately, the regulation is one of a traveler's only safeguards when they rent a pleasure craft or are out on the waters where others have rented a boat.

June 1: TRAVEL SHOPPING WITH A TWIST (FEES)
Here's something business travelers would prefer not to do: pay a travel agent. Here's another rotten idea: make dozens of phone calls to arrange your own travel, then go to the airport to pick up tickets. And here's a really terrible concept: let the airlines mail your tickets, then hope the U.S. Postal Service doesn't lose them.

May 1: DISCOUNT CARRIERS: THE TRAVEL IRREGULARS
Although rip-roaring, price-slashing fare wars have become a permanent fixture on the travel landscape, enlightened travelers shouldn't be misled: Americans are actually paying more, not less, for airline tickets. But there is an antidote for the pricing tyranny of the nation's major airlines: a quirky, combative crop of airline discounters.

April 15: ELEVEN WAYS TO STRETCH YOUR DOLLARS IN EUROPE
Europe's peak season has arrived and the financial news is sobering: Unless you plan carefully and think creatively, you'll pay as much as 15 percent more for a summer holiday. Blame this sudden surge in prices on the decline in the value of the dollar on world currency markets. Since last December, the dollar has plunged by double-digit percentages against most of Europe's currencies.

April 1: TICKETLESS TRAVEL
The next great trend in airline travel? flying without a paper ticket. To varying degrees, four airlines are working to eliminate the traditional ticket. Travelers who book a reservation for a flight now receive a computerized reservation number rather than a paper ticket and the cost of their transportation is posted to their credit card account.

March 15: TRIP-CANCELLATION INSURANCE: USEFUL, NOT FOOLPROOF
One question asked with increasing frequency these days is "Should I buy trip-interruption and trip-cancellation insurance?" The categorical answer is yes, whenever you pay in advance for a costly cruise or a tour package. Unfortunately, that's the only categorical answer about trip-cancellation and trip-interruption insurance

March 1: THE 'SAFE' WAY TO TRAVEL
Federal grounding of airlines or aircraft for real or imagined safety concerns was unprecedented when it happened to Leisure Air last November. But then it happened twice more before the end of the year. How can a traveler avoid being stranded by an airline embroiled in a safety dispute with government regulators?

February 22: YOUR WEEKEND GETAWAY GUIDE FOR 95
So how about we plan some weekend getaways for the rest of the year. You can throw darts at a map, draw circles from the nearest hub city--or let me do the planning for you. Here are eight cool big-city getaways that will get you from March through to Christmas. There'll be brunches and craft shows and lots of local color.

February 15: WHAT'S POLLUTING OUR BEACHES
Picture-perfect Fleming Beach on Maui has become something of an American oddity. Bluntly put, most of our beaches--on shores east and west, along rivers great and small, and ringing any island that flies the star-spangled banner--are under relentless attack. Pollutants as exotic as single-celled protozoas and as prosaic as the cigarette butt foul our shores, damage the fragile ecosystem, and profoundly threaten the simple American pastime of spending a day at the beach.

February 1: LESS-STRESS CAR RENTALS
It may be the single most stressful and strenuous portion of any business trip. You've driven your rented car into the return lot and now you must negotiate that arduous final trek from the parking lot to your airline gate. A generation after the introduction of the first commercial jet aircraft, however, two car-rental firms have finally devised a better way to separate you and your bags from your rented car.

January 15: READ MY LIPS: YOUR TRAVEL TAXES WON'T GO DOWN
Don't expect the tax-cutting lawmakers we voted into office last Election Day to slash the inflated travel levies you pay on airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars. In fact, travel taxes may rise in 1995 because those tax-cutting solons will be scrambling for new sources of funds if they really do slash income and property taxes.

January 7: THE STATS ON SAFETY IN THE SKIES
The blunt and incontrovertible fact of the matter is that flying remains the single safest way to travel in the United States. Even taking into account the two USAir jet crashes last summer and the accidents involving two American Eagle propeller-driven aircraft last fall, the skies are markedly safer than the nation's interstate-highway system, its railroad network and its waterways.

January 1: 'CONSOLIDATE' YOUR HOTEL BUYS
Is it possible to cut your business-travel expenditures by 40 percent without accepting a commensurate reduction in comfort, quality and service? Maybe, if you make your hotel reservations through a discount room broker known as a "hotel consolidator." On the average night in America, about four out of every ten hotel rooms are empty. Naturally, a hotel manager is often glad to sell his excess inventory at heavily discounted prices rather than let the rooms remain empty. Consolidators act as centralized clearing houses for many of those unsold rooms.

Copyright 1993-2017 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.