Are any of the touring models you are familiar with sportier than others and would give a better unloaded road experience?
Cannot comment on Bike Friday. As Pat Lamb mentioned, there is a cost to flying with a bike. I thought it was around $100 each way, not $400. But check with the airlines.
As for which touring bike to get, if possible try to find one with STI brake/shift levers. These are much nicer for around town unloaded riding than barend shifters. I've had both types of shifters on touring bikes. The STI levers are more fun to use. Barend shifters can also wear out and stop functioning, so they are not impervious. I think the bikes I mentioned all come from the factory with barend shifters. You would probably need to work with the shop you buy from to change to STI levers. It would add cost. If you can buy online and do the mechanic work yourself, it would lower the cost quite a bit. I've had touring bikes with 7 speed barend shifters and 10 speed STI. The STI are more fun to ride. I think all of the touring bikes I mentioned are similar. Trek 520, Surly Long Haul Trucker, REI Novara Randonnee, BikesDirect.com touring bike all come with barend shifters. All are steel frames/forks. All are 9 speed cassette. I think you could flip a coin with any of those.