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Rw_imageJoe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of, a
non-commercial Web site for business travelers.

INTERNATIONAL ITINERARY: Get ready for the Heathrow land rush

British Airways opens Terminal Five at London/Heathrow Airport on March 27, just two days before the U.S.-E.U. Open Skies treaty becomes effective. The result? An unprecedented land rush at Heathrow. As British Airways begins a month-long effort to consolidate most of its flights at Terminal 5, U.S. carriers once shut out of Heathrow will pile in.

Beginning on March 29, Continental will launch Heathrow flights from its Newark and Houston/Intercontinental hubs; Delta Air Lines will add flights from hubs in Atlanta and New York’s Kennedy Airport; US Airways will launch from Philadelphia; and Northwest will fly from its Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul hubs.

Meanwhile, Air France and Delta will code-share on new service between Los Angeles and Heathrow, and United Airlines will add new flights from its Denver hub. But that’s not all. By the end of April, American Airlines will shift its Dallas/Fort Worth and Raleigh-Durham flights from London/Gatwick. Also moving from Gatwick to Heathrow: BA’s DFW and Houston flights. And in case you didn’t have enough Heathrow options, Northwest says it will launch flights from Seattle in June. Meanwhile, back at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, British Airways says its flights from Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco move on that March 27 opening day. The other BA flights from the United States will switch to Terminal 5 from Terminal 4 on April 30.

FARE FINDER: Bargains and bank-breaking destinations this month
The best bargains on the route map late this month are likely to be in Florida and the Caribbean. Now that the weather is finally warming up nationwide, U.S. travelers begin abandoning their dreams of flights to sunnier climes. Right after the Easter and Passover holidays, watch for falling airfares to Florida and the Caribbean. And pay attention to hotel and resort deals as hoteliers offer room-rate reductions and value-added packages to keep their properties full. The best bargains will last until about late June.

The last of the winter fare sales to Europe (and especially London) will dominate the international landscape during the next few weeks. Prices won’t be as low as they were in dreary February, of course. And the airlines may not give much notice of sales — the lowest prices may only be available for purchase a day or two at a time–but the bargains will be the best you’ll see until November. And beware of promotions for an "April in Paris" getaway. The lyrics of the popular song notwithstanding, it’s actually chilly and rainy in the City of Light in April. But that doesn’t stop some travel packagersfrom selling the melodic fantasy of "chestnuts in blossom" and "holiday tables under the trees."

ROUTE MAP: JetBlue and AirTran connect dots and add cities
The high cost of fuel — in case you hadn’t heard, oil has hit the $110 a
barrel mark — has put the brakes on most carriers’ domestic expansion
plans, but JetBlue Airways and AirTran Airways continue to build their
networks. JetBlue is filling in the dots on its route map and will
launch flights to four cities from Austin: Long Beach, Fort Lauderdale,
Orlando and San Francisco. The flights begin May 1. The airline will
also begin Salt Lake City-Las Vegas service on the same day.

Over at
AirTran, the news is new cities. It will begin flying from Burlington,
, on May 21 with flights to Baltimore/Washington. On June 11, it
will begin service to San Antonio with four daily flights to its
Atlanta hub.

Say goodbye to ATA Airlines’ hub at Chicago’s Midway
Airport. It will dump the remainder of its domestic flights from Midway
on April 14 and drop the last of its international service on June 7.

Continental Airlines fliers at Newark Airport take note: Commuter
flights are being relocated to Terminal Aso that Continental can
consolidate mainline service in Terminal C. That means a bus ride
between terminals if you are making a connection.

AIRPORT REPORT: Northwest finds a home in Hartford

Northwest Airlines continues to build up service in Hartford,
. Beginning June 15, it will offer a daily commuter flight
to its Memphis hub. Northwest will also launch Airbus A319 flights
between Detroit and Salt Lake City beginning on June 5.

says that it will resume flights from its Vienna hub to Erbil,
in Kurdish Iraq. The flights begin again on April 2; Austrian launched
the service in December, 2006, but suspended them last August. … Still
Eos Airlines, which currently flies from Kennedy to London/Stansted
using planes equipped with just 48 seat-beds, is adding two new
airports. It will add a Newark-Stansted flight on May 5 and a
Stansted-Dubai route on July 6. … Gulfport-Biloxi Airport will offer a
registered-traveler program. It has hired Vigilant Systems, which
operates the program in Jacksonville, Florida. … The first airport
location of Bruegger’s Bagels has opened in Terminal 2 in Cincinnati. A
second location, at Boston/Logan, should open this month and a third
outlet, in Raleigh/Durham, is due this summer. … The one bag carry-on
rule has been lifted at London’s Gatwick Airport. But beware: Not all
airlines using Gatwick are permitting you to carry on two bags again.

NEED TO KNOW: On-the-road intelligenceto help you travel smarter

Starwood Preferred Guest
, the frequent travel program of Sheraton,
Westin, W and other hotels, is reclassifying about 235 properties
around the world. Only about a dozen will cost fewer points to claim a
free night. The more than 200 others will all cost substantially more
points for a free night.

Delta will launch service to Georgetown,
Guyana, on June 2, a month earlier than planned. It will also move up
the start date of its New York/Kennedy-Lyon, France, flights to June 3.
To make room for these changes — and frequency increases on routes to
Venice; Cape Town; Paris/Orly; and Malaga, Spain — Delta will delay the
launch of New York/Kennedy flights to Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi,
Kenya. Both of those routes will now start in December.

‘ ultra-long-haul nonstops to Singapore from Newark and Los
Angeles are in for a big change. The 18-hour flights are switching to
an all-business-class configuration. Effective late in the spring, the
Airbus A345 flights will be outfitted with just 100 business-class
seats. No first or no coach cabins.

Related Orbitz resources:

Read more "On the Road with Joe Brancatelli" at

Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.

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