The Brancatelli File for 1996
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 9: AIRLINE CONSOLIDATORS: THE TRAVEL MAGICIANS
Acting like the outlet malls of commercial aviation, airline consolidators can save you anywhere from a few dollars on deeply-discounted, advance-purchase tickets to a few thousand on last-minute, long-haul business trips. The discounts vary by route and by time of season, the restrictions are sometimes convoluted and consolidators can't always get the seats you want when you need to fly, but a recent check of the market yielded last-minute savings of as much as 77 percent.

November 11: PUT YOUR HOTEL TO WORK FOR YOU
Armed with a startlingly obvious revelation--business travelers actually do conduct business in their rooms--hotel chains have rushed to create special guestrooms stocked with all manner of business amenities: space-age desks, ergonomically correct chairs, fancy lighting, fax machines, computer printers and copy machines.

November 1: HOW TO CUT YOUR HOTEL COSTS
If your travel budget is feeling the pinch, it's probably the rapidly rising cost of hotel rooms. After years of living the lodging lush life--when deep discounts on extravagant rooms at elegant hotels were available for the asking--Americans are now scrambling to find an affordable place to lay their heads. But take heart: Lodging deals are still available. Try following this seven-step, cost-cutting guide.

October 14: AIRLINE CLUBS: SANITY FOR SALE
For about $200 a year, airport clubs deliver all sorts of perks to the surprisingly select number of harried business travelers who are smart enough to plunk down the annual membership fees. And since the clubs are the last oases of dignity and decorum at the three-ring circuses we call airports, club membership is surely the single best investment frequent-flying executives can make to maintain their equanimity and competitive edge on the road.

September 30: MORE BANG FOR YOUR FREQUENT FLYER MILES
Frequent flyer miles are neither your Social Security nest egg nor your meager earnings for a hard day's work. They are, in essence, a free lunch, something for nothing. And when the planets are in cosmic alignment and the aviation apparatchiks are in a generous mood, you can trade in those miles for a free ticket to Hawaii. Or you can trade miles for something other than a free ticket. Like a watch. Or a CD. Or a couple of steaks. Or even a genuine imitation Chicago Bulls jersey that will make you feel like Mike.

September 1: TRAVEL ESSENTIALS, ESSENTIALLY UPDATED
For all the new and notable technology buzzing around our heads and carry-on bags these days, sometimes the basics are what should command our attention. So here's a look at four evergreen travel products--language aids, binoculars, rain gear and video cameras--and what's new and notable in the categories.

August 15: YOUR TRAVEL QUESTIONS, MY ANSWERS
Time for another round of ask-the-talking-head-travel-expert. Or, as I like to put it, "Damn, I should have written a column about that."

June 1: HOT STUFF FROM MY TRAVEL NOTEBOOK
What's new in the travel world? Glad you asked. These items have been burning a hole (metaphorically, of course) in my notebook. Nearly a dozen items, from the disappearing royals in Britain to the natty to tatty revival in the Bahamas to the suddenly competitive skies of South Africa.

May 15: A TEN-STEP EUROPE SUMMER SANITY PROGRAM
The annual mad dash to Europe is just about to get under way and I'm sorry to report that the financial outlook for your summer trip isn't great. Prices have crept up, the dollar is no longer Almighty, and you'll be competing with a record number of other Americans for everything from a good deal on a hotel room to a seat on the Spanish Steps.

April 30: YOUR TRAVEL QUESTIONS, MY ANSWERS
Time for another round of stump-the-alleged-travel-expert. Well, not stump so much as drive me to my notes and force me to call around and do your homework for you ...

April 8: HOW TO WIN THE OLYMPICS TRAVEL EVENT
So you promised yourself you were going to the Olympic Games in Atlanta this summer, but you procrastinated and now it's April and you haven't done anything about it and you're sure it'll cost a fortune for a middle seat on the plane and obstructed-view tickets to team handball. Surprise! It looks like procrastination has made you an enlightened traveler. The 1996 Summer Olympics are turning into a buyer's market for last-minute travelers.

April 1: HOW TO BEAT THE BUMP
The good news: U.S. airlines carry 460 million passengers a year and only about 48,000 travelers are "bumped" and left at the gate against their will. The bad news: if you're the one in 10,000 who is a victim of what the airlines euphemistically call "involuntary denied boarding," the compensation you'll receive is rarely worth the disruption in your travel plans.

March 15: WEEKEND AWAY AT THE HUB AIRPORT OF YOUR CHOICE
Maybe you have better things to do with your weekends than spending them at an airline hub. So do I. But every once in a while, you may get stuck at a hub. Here's what to do at three of them: St. Louis, where TWA still dominates; Los Angeles, where several carriers claim hub status; and Denver, where United is fending off a challenge from the revived Frontier.

March 5: ARMANI AND JULIET
All of the Italys--the fabulously ornate past, the effortlessly sleek present, and the hopelessly romantic--come together in Verona, the sophisticated little city that's an hour by train from Venice. And everything you need to know about all the Italys can be found at a particular house on the Via Cappello, a few steps from the elegant Due Torre Hotel Baglioni.

February 15: FARES ARE RISING FAST, BUT THERE ARE SOME OPTIONS
If you're feeling a little light in the wallet these days, you've probably been flying the nation's decidedly unfriendly skies. Average airfares increased by more than 15 percent in 1995 and the nation's major carriers are planning similar price hikes this year. But don't despair: there are many ways to get airline bargains in 1996.

February 5: HOW TO SURVIVE THE CAR RENTAL RATE GAME
When my father needed to book a rental car for his annual winter jaunt in south Florida, I was glad to help--then was promptly sorry I ever got involved in a process as confusing as renting a car. How do travelers get the most favorable price on a rental car? Here are some tips worth considering.

February 1: NEW FLIGHTS AND OLD NAMES
Hey, hey, here is some good news about airlines. Honest. Want to fly to Florida for pennies? You're in luck. It'll also be easier and cheaper to travel to Las Vegas. This may even be the year two fabled aviation names--Pan Am and Laker--get their wings back. Best of all, 1996 will be the year travelers finally get a northwest passage to China.

January 11: THE BUDGET BATTLE CREATES A NATIONAL PARKS CRISIS
Most Americans are dumbfounded by the fact that the politicians in Washington have deemed the nation's monuments and parks a "non-essential" government service. And with the internecine budget wars now threatening to last until Election Day, it's possible that the nation's parks may open and close abruptly throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

January 2: IN 1996, PEOPLE WILL PREFER PEACEFUL PLACES
Want to know where to go in 1996? Remember the four travel Ps: People Prefer Peaceful Places. Travelers are flocking to nations that have settled their disputes. Destinations once dismissed as too dangerous--Northern Ireland, South Africa, the Middle East--now top many travelers' "must visit" list. And popular places suddenly perceived as dicey destinations--terrorism-troubled Paris, the storm-ravaged Caribbean, crime-ridden Washington--have lost their luster.

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