Business Travel: Web Sites to Make the Trip Less Work
By JOE SHARKEY
December 20, 2000
With the holiday season, one of the few slack periods of the
year for business travel is approaching. A good time to relax and maybe make
a few plans to deal with the rat race more effectively next year. Here,
chosen arbitrarily - but I hope not capriciously - is a bookmark-list of my
picks for the top Web sites to make life a little easier on the road for
AIR TRAFFIC DELAY STATUS
The Federal Aviation Administration has accepted
its share of blame for the horrendous traffic jams in the skies that have
made this year by far the worst ever for airline delays. But the F.A.A.
provides a real service with the Air Traffic Control System Command Center
Real-Time Airport Status site (www.fly.faa.gov). It features a map of the
United States, with links to click for real-time flight-delay information
supplied by air traffic control centers at about 40 major airports.
For example, at 4.30 p.m. yesterday, Denver International Airport was
reporting high winds causing departure delays of up to two and a half hours
to Chicago; equipment problems causing delays approaching four hours to La
Guardia; and a radar malfunction delaying flights to Newark over two hours.
BUSINESS TRAVEL TOOLS
A service of Rosenbluth International, a travel-
management company, www.biztravel.com is a convenient and intelligently
designed general-purpose Web site for business travelers. A fight can be
arranged here, but other features and links make this site stand out. Among
them are fancy high-technology tricks like a service that will page personal
assistants and other wireless devices with word that a flight has been
delayed. The site also has news, a map engine, travel alerts and online
travel columnists, like Christopher Elliott and the irrepressible Joe
Brancatelli, who are not shy about covering the travails of travel and the
shenanigans of airlines.
The Travel Toolkit section has links to two very useful online services.
One, Flight Tracker, lets a traveler punch in any airline and flight number
and get its status or, if the flight is in the air, check its arrival time
and even things like current altitude, air speed and location on a map.
Another link, in Currency Converter, is to OANDA.com, which lists current
worldwide currency-exchange information and has a very user-friendly
currency converter engine for international travelers.
The Weather Channel's online site (www.weather.com) is indispensable
for comprehensive weather information. In a travel health section, there is
even a map showing current regional influenza conditions.
The site is a good way to check out the weather anywhere but also a dandy
excuse for whiling away time online in some dreary hotel room, checking
critical data like the current state of the jet stream or wind conditions at
34,000 feet over Montana.
With all that fancy equipment, one would think airlines could
have flight attendants announce the exact time as the plane touches down
after carrying you through a couple of time zones. Instead, all they offer
is: "Welcome to Los Angeles, where the current time is approximately . . ."
This site (www.time.gov), a joint service of two government agencies, the
National Institute of Standards and Technology and the United States Naval
Observatory, features a national map where visitors can click on a location
and get the actual correct time, so you can set that watch accurately.
TIME, WORLD Need to know what time it is in Tasmania or anywhere else in the
world? This is the site (www.worldtimeserver.com), with easy to use links by
country, region and city.
Click the English tab on this German-based commercial site
(www.travelshop.de), which features handy links to the home Web pages of
every major world airline with a quick click. But give a pass to the
airports links, which are too incomplete to be useful.
Easy to follow guides are available at www.quickaid.com for most of
the major airports in the world, with detailed maps of terminals and
information on ground transportation, airlines and hotels.
Ever wonder about fellow travelers who say they just flew in
from MCI (Kansas City, Mo.) and are headed off to YYC (Calgary, Alberta)?
Here is the crib-sheet site (www.faa.gov), a list of most
major airport codes in the world, courtesy of the F.A.A.
2000 The New York Times Company