THE BRANCATELLI FILE FOR 2011

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT JOE
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 began his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe.com 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 Cold Spring, New York.

December 15: THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
I have said this before. I will say it again. I will say it for as long as I have a platform: When all is said and done, we business travelers live lives of incredible privilege. Even when our lives on the road stink, in the cosmic totality of things, our complaints are astoundingly trivial. So we have a responsibility to remember the reason for the season and give something back.

November 30: A 'DAMP SQUIB' STRIKE AND AA GOES UNDER
So we all geared up for an insane week thanks to a strike at Heathrow. But the strike turned out to be a "damp squib" (says British PM David Cameron). Yet without notice, American Airline lands itself in Chapter 11 and dumps its CEO on the tarmac. How we covered the week because, let's be honest, it's worth reading again.

October 30: PLANES, TRAINS, AUTOS, STRIKES, STORMS
When was the last time an airline shut itself down in a pique? Or there was a gigantic October snow and ice storm along the East Coast? Or a strike at Air France? (Okay, don't answer that last one.) And when was the last weekend when all of these things happened on the same weekend? It all happened this weekend and here's how we covered it.

October 27: JIM ROCKFORD, THE SOPRANOS AND ME
I just flew on a plane fresh off the line and so new that the airline hadn't even outfitted it with perks like an in-flight entertainment system yet. But no one seemed to care because we all seem to travel with our own entertainment now. Coincidentally, I've purchased a new laptop, too. So I've been thinking about what I should take along to keep myself amused on the road.

October 12: THE NOT-SO-GREAT WHITE NORTH
It took a controversial bureaucratic government dodge to stop this week's strike at Air Canada. And chances are the move will make matters worse before they get better. Air Canada is frustrated that two deals it cut with union bosses were voted down by rank and filers. The flight attendants are still steamed about big concessions in the past. How we covered this week's craziness.

September 29: TEN YEARS SINGING RIGHT OUT LOUD
This marks the tenth anniversary of JoeSentMe.com. But there's very little to celebrate. After all, there wouldn't be a JoeSentMe if there hadn't been a September 11, 2001. And the fact that we still exist means that commercial publishers with far more resources continue to ignore business travelers. So we fight on, thanks to your continued support and kind words.

August 29: KEEPING AN EYE ON HURRICANE IRENE
You will find some jokes along the way in our coverage of Hurricane Irene, the first big storm of the Atlantic summer season. But there's nothing funny about a "major" hurricane bringing strong winds and heavy rains to the heart of the nation's most-populous region. It closed airports along the East Coast and disrupted thousands of flights and hundreds of thousands of travelers.

August 17: THE EUROPE HOLIDAY BUSINESS-CLASS BONANZA IS ON
Major airlines have loaded their Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year's business-class fares and there's good news and bad news. The good news: The prices are great, as low as $1,320 roundtrip, and more carriers than ever are offering the holiday bargains. The bad news: Capacity is down and airlines are not offering the low prices on every day during the promotional period. So hurry if you want an inexpensive trip to Europe. I've got all the details.

July 28: NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT...
Why hotels are smelly, but are changing the physical laws. Another scam in the name of Pan Am. Why airlines are suddenly looking for--and then complaining about seeing--passenger underwear. Where Jimmy Hoffa might be found. All of the snark and news you need to get you through another summer week of travel.

July 14: THEY'RE MAKING FUN OF US. AND I LIKE IT.
The fellows who created the brilliant Little Britain TV show have now turned their skills to our lives--or a version of same--with Come Fly With Me. It's total fiction and it is absolutely true. Every word, every character, every sketch, every narrative strand, every eye roll and facial tic is our lives on the road perfectly captured and hilariously satirized. It is savage, laugh-out-loud funny and you shouldn't miss it.

June 30: READ. SHOWER. HAVE A WEEKEND.
It is not six months of hard business travel that leaves me dragging my butt into the Fourth of July weekend. It's the attitude. The travel industry is appallingly clueless. Worse, it has no idea that it is appallingly clueless. Its collective obliviousness is wearing on and frustrating for those of us who live our lives on the road.

June 16: NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT...
Another strange week on the road. TSA agents get fired for not checking bags, airlines claim they can't disclose fees on a timely basis, oil prices are "dropping," and I have issues with Fig Newtons and the concept of Canadian anarchists rioting at a hockey game. It all makes some sense if you go with it.

June 2: EIGHT MILES HIGH AND FALLING FAST
In the last week, so much trash has been written about business travel in important places such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today that Satan must be laughing with delight. But if you stick with me as we slog through some of these egregious examples, I'll offer up something to save your mortal soul.

May 23: AN ILL WINDS BLOWS
Thursday was the worst travel day in America since those bad old days of winter. There were tens of thousands of weather-related cancellations and delays. It was the capper of a bad week worldwide that started with the new volcanic eruption in Iceland. Here's how we covered it.

May 19: RAPTURE...AND NOT THE BLONDIE KIND
A religious broadcaster claims that The Rapture is due on Saturday. I'm actually OK with that. Before we go, though, some thoughts about the new Pan Am TV show on ABC, Amtrak's miserable financial outlook, the war of the business-travel magazines and the chances you missed to download an app.

May 12: SUBMITTED FOR YOUR APPROVAL
In a week when a commuter-airline pilot refused to fly two imans even though they'd been checked three separate times by TSA screeners, you know anything can happen. And it has. American has a bizarre new boarding procedure. Hertz's previous claim that it had made its best offer for Dollar Thrifty is apparently "inoperative." Business travel makes you fat. And how to get your company to pay for your private jet.

May 5: TRAINS OF THOUGHT
Unless you got one of those cheesy spam E-mails from Amtrak, chances are probably less than zero that you know Saturday is National Train Day. And that's too bad because I continue to think our lives as frequent flyers would be a hell of a lot better if we could sprinkle more trains into the mix. But rail travel in this country is a mess, a victim of 19th-century thinking in a 21st-century world.

May 1: WHAT BIN LADEN'S DEATH MEANS TO US
President Obama has just announced that the United States has captured and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. That will change our safety and security outlook in the short term. Here's what to expect--and how to protect yourself--on the road in the next few days.

April 23: A TORNADO CLOSES LAMBERT AIRPORT
From the "it's always something" file: The strong storms and apparent tornado that ripped through the St. Louis area last night has whacked St. Louis-Lambert Airport hard. There have been no fatalities and only five minor injuries at the airport. But the airport is closed indefinitely.

April 21: NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT ...
I have thoughts on this week's big news: airlines that spam you (and then spam you with apologies); credit card with big bonuses (and no bonuses); color-coded terror alerts (and color-coded presidential candidates); the TSA violating the rights of carbon-based (and marshmallow-based) life forms; and much more. Plus the usual snark and non sequiturs that really aren't.

April 7: THE MARTIN DEUTSCH READER
Here is something you will not read in a Martin Deutsch column: He turns 80 today. Martin doesn't celebrate his birthday, but we shouldn't ignore more than 50 years of work of the man who essentially invented business-travel journalism. So I've got some thoughts about the man and choose 17 of his columns worth revisiting.

April 2: A HOLE IN THE SKY AT SOUTHWEST
After a crack opens a hole in the fuselage of a Southwest jet, the airline has to ground 79 of its Boeing 737s. Then it is forced to cancel hundreds of flights and delay thousands more, but apparently doesn't think its customers need to know about the operational snafus. How we covered the story.

March 24: A BUSINESS TRAVELER'S TALE FROM TOKYO
Even as you watch the pictures of the death and the destruction from Japan, there's something you can't escape: You're watching pictures. No matter how much and how often you tell yourself what you're watching is real, you're just watching a picture show. However, I have a small but real business traveler's tale of a roundtrip to Tokyo at an inopportune moment.

March 10: NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT ...
The insane Gaddafi and airline executives. Terrorists get smarter while the TSA does nothing. Credit card mileage games and gimmicks. The disappearance of free in-flight food and snacks. Movies on the Weather Channel, Daylight Saving Time and $200 baseball bats. It's all grist for the mill of a life on the road right now. And, of course, plenty of snark.

February 24: WHEN A MAN IS TIRED OF LONDON
I must be tired of life because I surely was tired of London during a few days of work and play. But with all due respect to Mr. Johnson and his oft-used quote, a lot of Londoners are tired of life, too. A bad winter and endless bad economic news has cast a pall over the place. But a royal wedding in the spring and several big global events next year may change the attitude of the British capital.

February 17: JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE...
After a brutal January and an awful first week of this month, we got lulled into thinking the worst had past. After all, a day or two without snow, ice or other crazy weather and we got carried away. But winter has returned and here's how we've covered what covered the runways this month.

February 3: HOW'S WINTER TREATING YOU SO FAR?
In a winter like this, here's what passes as good news: There were only 3,000 cancellations today and more than half of them were at two airports. Plus tomorrow's travel outlook. And a travel-insurance company has some (mostly funny) ideas about how to kill time at an airport. Read the latest--or catch up on what you missed--besides flights, of course.

January 29: EGYPT EXPLAINED FOR THE BUSINESS TRAVELER
There's a qualitative difference in the Egypt unrest compared to the events earlier this month in Tunisia. Egypt is the cultural, emotional and political heart of the Arab World. What happens in Egypt definitely does not stay in Egypt. And that should give business travelers to the region pause.

January 27: ANOTHER BAD WEEK TO FLY
We're only about a month into winter and several East Coast cities have already surpassed their annual snowfall amounts. It's been brutal on travel, brutal on morale and brutal on schedules. Of course, snow and inconvenience are nothing compared to the horror and death in Moscow, where a bomb ripped through the arrivals hall and killed dozens of travelers. I have dispatches from the front, new numbers and details on how the week played out.

January 9: A VERY BAD WEEK TO FLY
We spent a week surviving a snow and ice storm that crippled the South. Then there was another wipeout in New York and a titanic blizzard in New England. What did it cost? And when does an "open" airport mean that no flights operate? All these answers and more.

These columns originally appeared at JoeSentMe.com.

Copyright 1993-2011 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.