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Nobody Asked Me, But ...
March 31, 2016 -- Nobody asked me, but ...

You can resume worrying about the value of your Starwood Preferred Guest points and your SPG elite status benefits. It looks like Marriott wins, a really strange twist since the Chinese insurer Anbang was the current high bidder with a $14 billion all-cash offer.

It case you haven't kept up--and, honestly, who has?--Anbang unexpectedly dropped out late this afternoon. No one knows why yet. But its $14 billion offer on Monday had topped Marriott's own sweetened cash-and-stock bid of $13.6 billion. That surpassed Anbang's first cash offer of $13 billion. At the beginning of the month, of course, it looked as if Marriott's cash-and-equity offer of $12.2 billion would suffice.

Nobody asked me, but ...

The ongoing Anbang-Marriott-Starwood battle makes you wonder why Hyatt, which last year submitted a higher bid than Marriott's initial "winning" offer, hasn't reappeared. Hyatt desperately needs the additional global heft that Starwood could bring. A Marriott victory would put Hyatt in an even more disadvantageous competitive position vis a vis Hilton, Accor, InterContinental and, of course, a Starwood-infused Marriott. The stockholder meeting to confirm Marriott as the winner isn't until April 8, however, so, you know, Hyatt still has time to step up. Just don't hold your breath.

A lot of travelers told me they worried about security and privacy if Anbang got control of Starwood. They note that the U.S. government no longer lets official travelers, including President Obama, stay at the Anbang-owned Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Of course, those worried travelers were telling me this on their mobile phones manufactured in China, so, you know, perspective ...

Nobody asked me, but ...

Bloomberg News reports that both Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways want to acquire Virgin America. Neither wants partial custody of Richard Branson, however. Okay, I made that last part up. But I'm probably right.

Speaking of airline people behaving badly, let's not forget the beauty queen/JetBlue flight attendant who fled an airport because her bags were full of coke. And you thought director Quentin Tarantino just had a thing for Pam Grier. Well, he did. Me, too ...

Nobody asked me, but ...

It's ridiculous how excited I am for tonight's Season 7 premiere of the exquisitely written Archer on the FX Network. Are you not? You've heard by now that the former spy team will be involved in a season-long spin on 1970s private-eye shows, including an animated shot-for-shot remake of the Magnum, P.I. opening credit. Break out the Glengoolie Blue and gummy bears, we're headed back to the Danger Zone.

The best television show you're not watching is The Grinder. It's a hilarious send-up of the legal-procedural genre and a trenchant commentary on our celebrity-driven culture. It stars Rob Lowe and the sublime Fred Savage. The show (and the show-within-the-show called The Grinder) is too wondrously meta to explain. Just go here and start from the beginning.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Patty Duke died this week. No word on the fate of her identical cousin Cathy.

Speaking of Zanzibar--See what I did there?--Priority Pass has a new lounge in Terminal Two of Karume International Airport.

Nobody asked me, but ...

For all of its other problems, full credit to United Airlines for pioneering routes with its Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Besides those nonstops into secondary Chinese cities, this week United started service on a San Francisco-Tel Aviv run. Later this year it'll deploy 787s on a nonstop between San Francisco and Singapore.

Singapore Airlines is whispering that a Dreamliner on SFO-Changi isn't wise. SIA is much more comfortable resuming its own US-Singapore nonstops years from now using a not-yet-built variant of the Airbus A350. Meanwhile, it really, really, really, really hopes you won't notice that the only way you can fly Singapore Airlines to Singapore now is via Frankfurt or Moscow or Tokyo or Seoul. As Sterling Archer might say, "Hello, nonstops, it's out-of-the-way connections. You win."

Nobody asked me, but ...

There seems to be no question that the aircraft debris washing up on African shores is from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The experts say wave and drift patterns are consistent with a crash somewhere in the Indian Ocean. It's been an agonizing two-year wait, but it's now logical to believe that we'll eventually find the plane.

It also reminds us of how fragile our lives on the road truly are. Like the passengers on the American Airlines flight that was due to be piloted by this boob. And while it's true that a TSA agent has never, to our knowledge, caught a terrorist, it looks like the TSA gets credit for flagging this inebriated pilot.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Now that Donald Trump looks to be stumbling down the stretch, we'll probably have an open convention in Cleveland. And, if my reading of Ohio smoking laws is correct, smoke-filled hotel rooms in which to make delegate deals, too.

Speaking of the GOP clown car, who said it? Sterling Archer, the world's most dangerous spy? Or Donald Trump, the world's most dangerous short-fingered vulgarian?

Nobody asked me, but ...

It got buried by the horrors of Brussels, presidential tangos and tweeted photos of presidential candidates' wives, but Starwood scored the first deal for U.S. hotels in Cuba. It'll renovate and run three properties on the island. Marriott was also approved to do business in Cuba. Meanwhile, the National will go to the Lakeville Road boys. The Capri to the Corleone Family. The Sevilla Biltmore, also, but Eddie Levine of Newport will bring in the Pennino Brothers for a piece. Okay, I made that last part up, but if it was good enough for The Godfather Part II, it should be good enough for us.

And this is no-joking true: a hotel BOGO. The iconic Plaza hotel in New York is going on the auction block. If you're the winning bidder, you get another hotel in Manhattan free.

Nobody asked me, but ...

When Antonin Scalia died last month, conservative activists claimed his "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution revolutionized judicial scholarship. But his fellow conservative Supreme, Samuel Alito, clearly doesn't agree. During oral arguments on a 2005 video-game case, Alito tweaked Scalia by saying to one of the counsels: "I think what Justice Scalia wants to know is what James Madison thought about video games. Did he enjoy them?"

And always remember: These nine robed wraiths, liberal and conservative alike, decided that airlines have the right to do what they please with frequent flyer programs. The carriers don't even have the responsibility to be fair or deal honestly. 'Cause, you know, that's why the framers created the Constitution, so oligarchies could run roughshod over common sense and common decency.

Nobody asked me, but ...

If you believe the numbers from the Labour politician trying to unseat London's Tory mayor, Boris Johnson--you know, the guy who looks like and has hair like Trump--it costs more per mile to ride the Underground than to fly business class from London to New York.

Next time someone tells you that you can't do an entire trip with just carry-on bags, explain how you can stuff a small fortune in a backpack. Then, you know, just buy what you need when you get there ... including tickets on the London Tube.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Baltia Airlines has existed for more than 25 years and never flown a commercial flight. Baltia always claimed it was trying to launch service between New York and St. Petersburg, Russia. Now Barry Clare, Baltia's executive vice president, is in hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The charge? Acting as an unlicensed broker and taking a cut of the Baltia shares he sold. His alleged haul was $1.7 million.

Donald Trump would like to meet the Baltia investors who bought more than $25 million of Baltia stock from Clare. He's got steaks, water, vodka and board games to sell them. He's also willing to sell them a degree from Trump University so they'll have, like Trump himself, a very good brain and the best words.

This column is Copyright 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. 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.