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RAPTURE ... AND NOT THE BLONDIE KIND
By Joe Brancatelli
May 19, 2011 -- If the "religious broadcaster" Harold Camping is to be believed, the Rapture is coming. The world will end starting on Saturday.

The 89-year-old Camping has been wrong before--he also predicted the Rapture in 1994--so perhaps he's just one of those hucksters I see Bible-thumping on all those religious channels I ignore on my satellite TV feed.

Just in case he's right, though, I wanted you to know that I've enjoyed our time together. It's been big fun. And except for not seeing the Indians win the World Series and never getting the recipe for Ebinger's long-lost blackout cake, I'm pretty content. Besides, if the Rapture comes on Saturday, I'll be spared the indignity of turning 58 on Sunday.

Before we go, though, I thought you'd want to know about this stuff. I'll write fast so we don't run out of time…

PAN AM LIVES AGAIN. WELL, IT WOULD HAVE.
I know a lot of you mourn the demise of Pan Am. As a child of deregulation, however, I only knew the annoying Pan Am that lost my luggage on flights to Miami. But some of you can't help thinking that Pan Am was heaven on earth … or in the skies.

I know it can't take the place of the real thing, but the ABC Television Network had put a show called Pan Am on its fall schedule. It was based on the experiences of Nancy Hult Ganis, who flew for Pan Am World Airways in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

According to the ABC promotional material at this week's "up fronts"--that's TV talk for unveiling the schedule, not a first-class cabin--Pan Am was going to be a tale of "passion, jealousy and espionage." Starring Christina Ricci, the show was going to focus on flight attendants who "do it all--at 30,000 feet." According to ABC, "the style of the 1960s, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and a drama full of sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this thrilling and highly original new series."

Too bad that Rapture thing means the world won't be around long enough for Pan Am to premiere in September. But ABC was kind enough to supply clips in advance. You can see one of them here.

AT LEAST AMTRAK WILL STOP LOSING MONEY
Hey, this Rapture thing might not be all bad. After all, if nothing else, it'll mean that Amtrak will stop gushing money. We were talking about this in a column just a few weeks ago, but Amtrak's latest financial projections are scary.

Ridership is up for 18 consecutive months. Traffic jumped 9.9 percent in April compared to April, 2010. Finances? Not so much. For the fiscal year ending September 30, the loss is expected to be $506 million, up from $420 million last year. The projected loss for the next fiscal year? A cool $616 million.

At a hearing in Washington on Tuesday, Amtrak president Joseph Boardman explained how ridership can jump and losses mount simultaneously. "It's the long-distance trains," he explained. "They're all unprofitable." Except for the Northeast Corridor service between Boston and Washington, all the inter-city trains on Amtrak's schedule are big losers.

"The Congress and the country need to make a policy decision: Do they want long-distance trains or do they not?" asked Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm.

Actually, Steve, we won't need to make that decision. Didn't you hear about the Rapture on Saturday?

A POX ON ALL OF THEIR MAGAZINES
Business travelers have never been particularly well served by the magazines that claimed to watch out for their needs. Even Frequent Flyer, the first and best, was constantly starved for funds. And it was always treated as a stepchild by OAG, the publishing company that cared more about mollifying big airlines, who paid to list schedules in the flight guides, than serving frequent flyers.

Ever since Frequent Flyer folded more than a decade ago, however, magazines claiming to serve business travelers have been more atrocious than ever. I don't know anyone who actually reads them. But this is noteworthy: Two of them are now pissing on each other.

A magazine titled Business Traveller is based in London and it franchises its name to publishing firms around the world to do local editions. Its U.S. edition is a crappy as all of the others out there. But Business Traveller seems to have repeated business problems with its U.S. operators. It parted ways acrimoniously with its initial publishers when one of the salesmen left to found Global Traveler. And just this week it had to secure a temporary restraining order against its most recent partner, Varquin Enterprises. It claimed Varquin was secretly plotting to launch a competitive magazine called Business Travel Insider.

The upshot? Varquin is gone and plans to launch a magazine called Premium Traveler next month. Business Traveller has appointed still another U.S. company to publish the next issue of its American edition.

Hey, guys, pay attention. The world is ending Saturday. No reason to rush those advertiser-bought-and-paid-for puff pieces you run to press …

WANTED TO TRY A TRAVEL APP? TOO LATE!
Interesting survey released this week by SpringHill Suites, one of the Marriott brands. According to SpringHill's survey, 69 percent of people with smartphones have never downloaded a travel app. And since other surveys say that only about 40 percent of Americans even own a smartphone, you do the math…

If you're one of the majority of business travelers who've never actually downloaded a travel app, I guess it's too late. The Rapture's on Saturday. Time's up … that's assuming your iPhone's time and alarm apps are working properly.

A note to readers: If all this Rapture talk makes you nostalgic for white girls rapping in 1980s music videos, I try to be a full-service columnist. Surf here.

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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 © 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.