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WHAT I WON'T CARE ABOUT IN 2014
By Joe Brancatelli
January 9, 2014 -- You know why new years suck? Because travel talking heads seem constrained to make ludicrous predictions about the year ahead, compile lists of the coming "big stories" or make believe every airline or hotel CEO has something relevant to predict for the next 12 months. Worse, they all seem to do it in "slideshow" format, forcing you to click through one inanity after another.
You won't get that from me. Instead, I'm gonna tell you what I don't care about this year. As you read through this--no additional clicks required--I hope you'll find my lack of interest in these things matches your own indifference. And, along the way, maybe we can burst some pompous bubbles and egos, too.
In 2014, I won't care about any airline executive who tells me he's improving the "passenger experience" by adding better in-flight WiFi or new entertainment systems or food. If he really wants to improve the "passenger experience," he'll stop reducing the width of coach seats and cutting the amount of legroom at each chair.
In 2014, I won't care about any TSA excuse that starts with "out of an abundance of caution." That's bureaucratic code for "one of our security screeners did something really dumb and we are not going to admit they got it wrong."
In 2014, I won't care about Top Ten lists of best airport lounges, best airport restaurants or best airport anythings. I don't fly somewhere to use some lavish lounge or to eat something nifty. I fly to an airport because I have to be there. Knowing that the best lounge is in Hong Kong or the best food is in Atlanta doesn't help if I'm flying to Phoenix this week.
In 2014, I won't care about anyone's predictions of what's going to be news in travel in 2014. Nothing we can see coming is news. And the stuff we never see coming and can't predict is the news.
In 2014, I won't care about any story that quotes an airline public relations person telling me what happened when something went wrong between a passenger and a member of a cabin crew. The flack wasn't there, so he or she has no idea of what the truth really is. And that goes double for any story that quotes an airline PR person saying the cabin crew acted "out of an abundance of caution."
In 2014, I won't care about any airline, hotel chain or frequent-travel plan that raises prices, reduces perks or devalues a program "to remain competitive." If you want to jack up fares or slash benefits, fine. But don't tell me it's a "competitive response" because it proves to me you think we're too stupid to understand what the word competition really means.
In 2014, I won't care about any news story or television report that is shocked--shocked!--to learn that Spirit Airlines hid a fee or treated its customers badly or did something nasty. We know what Spirit Airlines is. If you fly it, you get what you deserve.
In 2014, I won't care about anything a travel writer who doesn't travel writes about travel. And I won't care about a novel about a travel writer who hates to travel written by a business-travel columnist who doesn't travel. And I certainly won't care about anything a TSA critic who doesn't fly anymore says about the TSA.
In 2014, I won't care about people who say the United States should adopt "Israeli-style" airline security. Don't babble about Israeli security without mentioning that it would require perhaps two million additional agents and dozens of billions of dollars more spent every year.
In 2014, I won't care about the Sochi Olympics. And I won't care about people who whine that NBC is showing hours-old events on its prime-time Sochi Olympics coverage. If you're really interested, there'll be plenty of places to watch live streams and NBC is spreading live coverage over at least five networks. And I won't care about the 2014 Olympics mittens that say "GO" on one hand and "USA" on the other, either.
In 2014, I won't care about anyone who's worried that there will be a blizzard in New York on Super Bowl Sunday next month. It'll snow or it won't. They'll play the game or they won't. And, please, no whining about how expensive Manhattan hotels or cabs or restaurants are. The game is played in Jersey. Go stay there if you want.
In 2014, I won't care about anything Tony O'Leary of Ryanair or Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic say they are going to do. When was the last time either one of them did anything they promised to do?
In 2014, I won't care about anything Jeff Smisek or anyone at United Airlines says. Passengers hate you and every customer survey says so. You're not losing 300,000 customers a month and under-performing the industry in every financial measurement for no reason. Shut up and fix the airline or shut up and don't fix the airline. But just shut up.
In 2014, I won't care about anything Doug Parker says he'll try with the American merger. He has zero history of running a good airline or doing a smooth computer transition or getting his employees to work under merged contracts. Do. Or do not. There is no try.
In 2014, I won't care about any hotel chain that claims it's opening a property in 2015 or 2016 or 2017. Tell me when the hotel is open with your flag on it. Until then, it's vaporware.
In 2014, I won't care about people who call me cranky. Of course I'm cranky. I'm a business traveler. Cranky is what we do. It's how we put up with all the stuff we don't care about.
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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 © 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.