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


Continental and United will join forces — eventually: United and Continental airlines couldn’t agree to merge, but they now plan to forge a wide-ranging alliance. Also included in the deal: Continental will leave the SkyTeamAlliance fronted by Delta, Northwest and Air France, and switch to the Star Alliance, which is fronted by Lufthansa, United and Air Canada. The Continental-United deal will include code-sharing, frequent-flier programs and airport-club reciprocity and recognition of each carrier’s elite frequent fliers.

But what it all means is unclear: The new alliance could take at least a year to consummate because Continental is tied to SkyTeam until nine months after the potential Delta-Northwest merger is consummated. Besides, the Transportation Department also must sign off on the Continental-United-Star Alliance tie-up. Also, two immediate questions of interest: What happens to US Airways ‘ participation in the Star Alliance? And will Continental, which currently requires 75,000 miles of flying for the Platinum level of its OnePass program, eventually boost the threshold to 100,000 to match the requirement of 1K status, the top level of United Mileage Plus?


No ID, no flying, says the TSA: The Transportation Security Administration says a "secret" law allows it to require you to show government-issued identification before boarding a flight, and the courts have agreed. Now the TSA says anyone who "willfully refuse(s)" to show ID will be denied boarding. In recent years, the TSA allowed travelers who refused to identify themselves to board flights after secondary, invasive and extra screening procedures. The agency says the no-ID, no-flight rule does not apply to travelers who have misplaced or lost their identification.

No, you’re not seeing things and airport, and city police departments have not beefed up their presence at the airport. All those new people with royal-blue shirts and metal badges? They’re just TSA screeners in their new uniforms, which were clearly designed to make you think they are law-enforcement personnel. The old TSA uniforms were white shirts with fabric shields. The TSA says the look is meant to command more respect from travelers. Needless to say, real police officers are not pleased with the TSA’s look-alike attire.

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

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