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NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT ...
By Joe Brancatelli
January 10, 2013 -- Nobody asked me, but ...

Much as I'd like to invent a term like Nightmareliner, can we calm down about the problems surrounding the Boeing 787 Dreamliner? I've never known a new aircraft not to have some shake-down issues. Twenty years ago, for example, the entire world seemed convinced that the Airbus A320 was cursed after an eerie series of crashes. Thought twice before boarding an A320 lately?

If you want to exercise your bad-plane karma, surf to MetaCafe.com and watch No Highway in the Sky. That's the movie where Jimmy Stewart takes on the establishment and proves that a new plane really is cursed. It's here, but I suggest you don't watch it inflight.

Nobody asked me, but ...

You want to talk cursed? Brandenburg, Berlin's new airport, has been delayed again. It was supposed to open last June, then got delayed to October, then got kicked into this year and now it looks like it won't open until next year. Worse, no one seems to know exactly what's wrong. It's the fire-safety system or the baggage-handling system or something else. Weird ... and, of course, a mortifying blow to German pride.

All the delays haven't stopped the Berlin airport authority from offering up tours of the place, however. Better yet, according to the promotional material, the tours start at "airportworld." No word if you're met at the entrance by a Prussian Yul Brenner dressed in black...

Nobody asked me, but ...

Delta Air Lines is drastically reducing the number of small regional jets it flies. One strategy: Take the Boeing 717s that Southwest Airlines, which owns AirTran Airways, is weeding out of AirTran's fleet. Delta gets the first of 88 reconfigured 117-seat 717s in September, but here's the kicker: Southwest is paying Delta to take the planes. Southwest is eating the $100 million it'll take to remake the planes in Delta's image and paint the aircraft in Delta's colors and livery.

Silvio Berlusconi is paying his ex-wife, Veronica Lario, about $250,000 a day as part of the divorce settlement. Lario left Berlusconi after he was accused of consorting with minors and the 76-year-old media magnate is currently in a relationship with someone 50 years his junior. So which is the better joke line? Delta got a better deal than Lario or Berlusconi is so pissed he's running in next month's elections in Italy to ruin its economy, too.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I was cleaning out some files over the holidays and came across this gem from the April 2, 1990, issue of Business Travel News: "Westin Hotels is installing a voicemail system in guestrooms at most of its 64 properties. A guest receives an illuminated message light on his telephone indicating that a message is pending."

This week's news from Westin: Someone actually used a room phone at one of its 180 hotels.

Nobody asked me, but ...

This, too, from the file clean-out: According to the June 19, 1998, issue of The Wall Street Journal, "airlines are struggling with a deluge of passengers and new round of consumer unrest [now that] U.S. carriers are flying planes that on average are more than 70% full."

This week's news from the airlines: Delta's December load factor was 82.7 percent. United's load factor: 82.4 percent. American's load factor: 80.2 percent. US Airways' load factor: 83.1 percent.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Feinstein's, the nightclub at the Regency Hotel in New York, closed at the end of the year. Coupled with the closure of the Oak Room at The Algonquin last year, that basically leaves New York with a single hotel nightclub: Cafe Carlyle at The Carlyle Hotel. You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of genuine nightclubs at hotels in other American cities. Kinda makes my 2002 column about the decline of hotel nightclubs seem like the good old days, eh?

Hotels don't have nightclubs anymore. We don't use the hotel phones or hotel tubs. They are getting rid of front desks. As I write in this week's Seat 2b column, we've stopped using in-room TVs. Now I guess I don't feel so bad that I once checked into what used to be called the Sheraton La Reina Plaza at LAX and was assigned a room without a bed.

Nobody asked me, but ...

One more from the clean-out file: An Associated Press dispatch from August 2, 1996, says "Senators are urging that the government take over security for airline check-ins. 'I don't think we can wait now. I think we ought to take over the responsibility,' Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC) said at a hearing called after the crash of TWA 800, a disaster that seems increasingly likely to have resulted from a bomb."

It somehow makes me feel better that the original episodes of The Outer Limits are available free to stream on Hulu.com.

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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 2013 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2013 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.