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NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT...
By Joe Brancatelli
September 17, 2009 -- Nobody asked me, but…

The silliest aviation argument in years is the fight between the United States and Canada over "cabotage" charters that allow Canadian airlines to haul Canada-based National Hockey League teams between U.S. cities and U.S. carriers to haul U.S. teams between Canadian cities. Both countries have barred the other's flights. The issue even came up in Washington yesterday when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met President Obama. Why didn't they just drop the gloves and settle things right there?

Nine more American Airlines ground workers in the carrier's Caribbean division were busted in a drug raid this week. I admit I'm surprised because I figured American's checked-bag fees would have made drug smuggling unprofitable.

Nobody asked me, but…

Rudy Maxa, who once helmed the Savvy Traveler show on NPR, is back on the radio. His hour-long call-in show began earlier this month on KFWB, the Los Angeles affiliate of CBS Radio. It airs at 4 p.m. Pacific Time on Sundays and you can stream it on the Web. Meanwhile, Peter Greenberg, who spent a lifetime at NBC and the Today show, has been named travel editor of CBS News.

Me? I have a face for radio and a voice for publishing. Besides, I can now quote John Belushi, who played a columnist in Continental Divide, a charming and unjustly overlooked 1981 flick with Blair Brown. "I like my column," his Ernie Souchak character said. "It's short."

Nobody asked me, but…

Maybe it's because my teams (Indians and Mets) are a combined 40 games below .500, but this has been the dullest baseball season ever.

And then there's the new Jay Leno Show. Let's just say I tuned out the first show on Monday night during the fourth inning…

Nobody asked me, but…

ARTA, a travel-agency trade group, now says it doesn't oppose United's move to stop some agencies from charging tickets to the airline's credit-card account, a topic I covered in a column in July. The group's explanation: "We at ARTA don't believe there is a wider strategy" to United's move. That isn't saying much, of course. United Airlines doesn't have a "wider strategy" on anything.

A G-20 Summit is planned for Pittsburgh on September 24-25. The city is bringing in extra cops, the Coast Guard will patrol the three rivers and businesses have been warned to prepare for potentially violent demonstrations. In other words, you might want to plan a different week to do business in the Steel City. Either that or barricade yourself in Primanti Brothers…

Nobody asked me, but…

I couldn't sleep in a hotel room last week and was aimlessly flipping the dial when I came across an A.1. Steak Sauce ad. It featured Meat Loaf pouring the stuff on a meat loaf and singing. Then came the slogan: "A.1. Steak Sauce. It Makes Meat Loaf Sing." C'mon, admit it. That's funny. The ad is running on YouTube, too.

Last week's column led many of you to E-mail me about the state of modern music. Besides the tunes I mentioned, you'd do well to listen to A Comet Appears by The Shins, another of the amazing bands coming out of Portland, Oregon. Here's one of their lyrics that you won't soon forget: "We can blow on our thumbs and posture/But the lonely are such delicate things/The wind from a wasp could blow them/Into the sea/With stones on their feet/Lost to the light and the loving we need."

Nobody asked me, but…

The Transportation Security Administration announced last week that it now considers "powdered substances" potentially dangerous, too. In typically bureaucratic meaningless doublespeak, the TSA said "common powders" were not prohibited, but travelers should be prepared for additional screening of "a small percentage" of them.

Why do I suddenly have an urge to go out and buy dozens of Pixy Stix and packets of Kool-Aid to stick in my carry-on bag?

Nobody asked me, but…

Some of us are just too damned lazy to dump our AOL E-mail addresses after 15 or 20 years. But who doesn't hate those annoying footer ads they've attached to our mail? The solution is here. One click and AOL removes the ads.

Would someone please explain the allure of Twitter to me? I mean, I honestly don't understand it as a communications medium. Online haiku about what you had for lunch or your 140-character view of the world eight minutes ago just isn't that compelling.

Nobody asked me, but…

British Airways celebrated its 90th anniversary last month based on its claim of a predecessor carrier's flight from Hounslow aerodrome to Paris/Le Bourget. BA says the fare was 42 guineas--or about 1,700 pounds in today's British currency. The luggage should be arriving momentarily on Carousel 3.

After dithering for months, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus of Montana delivered up his health-care bill yesterday. Surprising no one, not a single Republican signed on. And the Democrats hate the bill, too. How long do you think it'll be before Baucus ends up as the chief executive of one of the legacy carriers? I mean, he clearly has the skill set: tone deaf, clueless and totally ineffective.

Nobody asked me, but…

T-Mobile says customers now must to pay $1.50 to receive a paper copy of their bill. I like T-Mobile just fine. It also offers the cheapest rates of the major mobile companies and I wouldn't complain if the company simply raised its prices by a few bucks each month. But I hate being nickel and dimed for the "privilege" of being billed. So I'm nickel and diming T-Mobile right back: I've stopped paying my bill online and will henceforth pay by check, which increases T-Mobile's processing costs. And I have switched to my mobile phone exclusively during the free nights and weekend periods.

This just in: Awash in customer complaints and facing potential legal action, T-Mobile has temporarily backed off the $1.50 fee. Well, duh...

Nobody asked me, but…

Has Delta Air Lines finished integrating Northwest Airlines yet? I need some guidance about when to stop calling the disappearing legacy carriers the Big Six and start calling them the Big Five. Of course, I remember when they were the Big Seven and the Big Eight, too.

Lemme see if I understand this: Citibank gets a gazillion dollars in TARP funds from taxpayers and one of the things they are doing with the cash is pre-purchasing $1 billion worth of American AAdvantage miles? I wonder what the Chinese government, which lent us the money for the TARP funds in the first place, is going to do with all of those free flights.

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ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright © 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.