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NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT ...
By Joe Brancatelli
July 28, 2011 -- Nobody asked me, but …

I can live without hotels injecting "scents" into their air. If I wanted smelly air, I would book a bed next to the perfume counter at the local Macy's when I hit town.

Forget spas, duvets, nine pillows on the beds and bottles of rosemary-mint shampoo. The single best hotel innovation evah is the curved shower rod. I mean, curved shower rods bend the laws of the physical universe. And you don't get slapped with a slimy, plastic shower curtain.

Nobody asked me, but …

It is almost 20 years since Pan Am tanked and there are still airports that think a huckster using the name can bring in business. Some company calling itself Pan American Airways set up headquarters in the old Pan Am building in Brownsville, Texas, and promised the airport that it would start a hub for a cargo and passenger service to Mexico. The company then ran the same line on officials at Lambert Field in St. Louis. Earlier this month, Robert Hedrick, the 60-year-old founder of this new Pan Am, got busted for possession of child pornography. He now faces five years in the federal pen.

The Atlantic magazine has a slideshow up called The 19 Most Hated Companies in America. Guess how many airlines made the list?

Nobody asked me, but …

When it hit 104 degrees last weekend, my wife and I escaped our largely un-air-conditioned home and checked into the Andaz Wall Street. Next morning, I go to the door to grab the newspaper. A canvas bag is hanging off the doorknob. The bag says: All of yesterday's news fits in this bag. So much for my career.

I got home and found a little box of Multigrain Cheerios bundled with my newspaper. When, exactly, did marketing executives decide that people would eat food they picked up off the lawn?

Nobody asked me, but …

US Airways pilots, who've been fighting amongst themselves and with US Airways management ever since the 2006 America West merger, have gone public with an ugly accusation about the carrier's safety practices. US Airways executives huffily deny it all, of course. I'd normally dismiss this as a labor-management spat. Except that what the pilots claim is an eerie echo of what US Airways was pulling back in 2007.

Here's the smartest thing that I've heard about the legacy carriers lately: "Airlines use communications to conform passenger thinking rather than inform passengers." No wonder the guy who told me that bailed on the carrier for which he worked.

Nobody asked me, but …

Seattle takes its coffee way too seriously. I'm sitting in the Alaska Airlines Board Room at Sea-Tac recently and the club attendant announces that anyone who needs espresso should hurry because she is about to take the machine off-line for cleaning. Departure announcements in the club? Not so much.

Heard at an airport recently: An announcement alerting passengers to the free WiFi in the terminals so flyers can "connect to the Internet." What else would we use the free WiFi for? To make ourselves an espresso?

Nobody asked me, but …

Has anyone thought to look for Jimmy Hoffa at the Unclaimed Baggage Center? Just sayin…

I'm in Seat 2D on a 7:30 a.m. flight from Newark recently and the flyer in Seat 1C has two Bloody Marys with two mini-bottles of airline-supplied Absolut Vodka. Then she starts pouring from her own flask. Trust me, folks, the breakfast was not that bad.

Nobody asked me, but …

Seen recently on the back of a hotel room door: "Warning! No Lifeguard on Duty!" I think the sign was referring to the hotel pool, but I am not going to rule out the possibility that they occasionally flood the rooms. You know, just to clean the carpets or something …

The Victoria-Jungfrau resort in Interlaken, Switzerland, offers 30-hour room "nights." Gee, and I'd be happy if my airport hotel gave me a two-hour late checkout after I arrived at 4 in the morning. I once got into a hotel room for a one-night stay so late that my bill had already been slipped under the door. That's really cold.

Nobody asked me, but …

Waiting to clear customs and immigration on arrival at Newark, I watched Customs agents and their rent-a-cops lackeys go through the lines demanding people stop making or receiving calls on their mobile phones. No one bothered those of us checking our smartphones for texts and E-mails. I guess the government thinks evil terrorists only plan nefarious plots by voice.

No surprise that we're confused by the nature of the terrorist threat facing us. Al-Qaeda has adopted the inexplicable marketing practices of the airlines. It code-shares with local insurgencies and slaps the al-Qaeda "brand" on every two-bit band of uzi-equipped jihadists in the Middle East. They might just as well call the franchised terrorist groups al-Qaeda Express.

Nobody asked me, but …

I don't care what happens in the last Harry Potter movie. I didn't see any of the series or read any of the books. Besides, I prefer witches who look like Elizabeth Montgomery.

This from La Bella Figura, journalist Beppe Severgnini's book about how Italians think: "Remember The Terminal? If the film had been set in [Milan's] Malpensa Airport, Tom Hanks wouldn't just have fallen in love with Catherine Zeta-Jones. He'd have founded a political party, promoted a referendum, opened a restaurant and organized a farmers' market."

Nobody asked me, but …

I can sleep anywhere--a desktop in a magazine office, an airplane seat, a park bench--so maybe I am not the target of the hotel industry's bed wars. But besides Westin's Heavenly Bed, which started the crazy competition, can you name which hotel chain features which bed? I didn't think so.

I wish the airlines would get their act together on the dress code. A woman is suing JetBlue Airways because a supervisor couldn't see if she was wearing underwear under her T-shirt. But last month, US Airways booted a flyer because his underwear was showing.

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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.