The Brancatelli File for 2017
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 is also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer magazine 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 reporter and created JoeSentMe.com in the dark days after 9/11 while stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in Cold Spring, New York.


April 13: BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE WHERE AIRLINES BEAT US WITH ROCKS
This week's epic collapse proves that Delta is, in fact, worse than just about anyone at service recovery. By running a "just in time" operation that pushes people and planes to the red line, it can't recover when it guesses wrong on the weather. Its bluster--that it is better, so it need not backstop its resources with industry-standard cooperation--has worsened the problem.

April 9: DELTA: DEFLECT. DENY. LIE. THEN CANCEL AND DELAY.
This week's epic collapse proves that Delta is, in fact, worse than just about anyone at service recovery. By running a "just in time" operation that pushes people and planes to the red line, it can't recover when it guesses wrong on the weather. Its bluster--that it is better, so it need not backstop its resources with industry-standard cooperation--has worsened the problem.

April 6: NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT ...
United continues to be hopeless, American is bailing on a route it has flown for decades and downsizing another hub. The electronics ban may get even sillier. And, oh, yeah, get ready to be "extreme vetted" when you travel overseas in retaliation for how Homeland Security wants to treat visitors to the United States. In other words, just another week on the road.

March 30: EVERY AIRLINE FOR ITSELF
We long ago established that airlines aren't loyal to us, not even within the constructs of what were once laughably called loyalty plans. But who knew the airlines aren't even capable of being loyal to each other? They are deconstructing the global alliances they spent decades building and urging us to use.

March 23: WORKING AROUND OUR ELECTRONICS DOUBLE INDEMNITY
How dangerous is the electronics ban imposed this week by Homeland Security? As Barton Keyes, the canny insurance investigator in Double Indemnity, once said in another context, "It's not twice as safe. It's ten times twice as dangerous." I have ten practical workarounds that will allow you to stay entertained and keep productive if you're flying from the affected nations.

March 21: A WEEK OF CRAZY FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
It's been an interesting week for business travelers. Homeland Security's snap decision to impose an in-flight electronics ban is playing havoc with flyers who must travel from or transit through the Middle East. The British--but only the Brits--added a slightly different ban. Then there was an apparent terrorist incident in the heart of London. And, oh yeah, Trump Travel Ban 2.0 is still being litigated.

March 16: BUDGETS AND BANS AND POLITICS, OH MY!
Once more, this is about travel and politics because Trump Travel Ban 2.0 got whacked in the courts and the Trump Administration unveiled Budget 1.0 and there are several travel twists. The proposed Transportation Department cuts include fundamentally sound deletions that might nevertheless be politically troublesome. And it turns out the most implacable foe of President Trump's executive orders on travel is Donald Trump, presidential candidate.

March 12: STELL-AAAAAH!
We have all gotten used to predictions of the "storm of the century." This one, named Stella by the rating-whores at The Weather Channel, may not have been the worst ever, but it's been bad enough. Especially since it was a mid-February kind of bruiser, a nasty surprise that came in mid-March. Thousands of flights were cancelled from Chicago to the East Coast and from Washington north to New England. Here's how we covered it.

March 9: OUR LETTERS OF TRANSIT ARE BEING QUESTIONED
President Trump signed a new travel order, Europeans threatened our right to visa-free travel and our own government revived the spectre of exit controls before international flights. It's been a week packed with overlapping political agendas, awkward travel theatrics and technological and financial insufficiency. The actions and motives of Presidents from Clinton to Trump have been regurgitated. Here's what it all means for us.

March 2: NONE SHALL PASS
As someone who lived it, I can tell you that you don't argue with Customs agents when they do the None-Shall-Pass Black Knight bit at your aircraft's door. International flight or domestic, legal or not, if they ask for your papers, there's no maybe about it. There's no voluntary about it. They will fart in your general direction and taunt you a second time if you refuse even when the agents are wrongly IDing a domestic flight. And, yes, it's a dangerous abuse of government authority.

February 23: MAY I REMIND YOU ...
You're busy. The news moves fast. You can't remember everything or read everything. So allow me to remind you of some important stuff that seems to be tripping you up on the road. That includes the state of LaGuardia Airport, the two-ticket rule at Oneworld, the fake news about REAL ID, Verizon's secret SIM slots and American's new boarding order.

February 16: I LIVE TO SERVE: YOUR QUESTIONS, MY ANSWERS
Travel is essentially a selfish endeavor. Whether it's leisure or business, travelers only care about their own needs. I try to remember that basic lesson as I put together this Web site in general and this column in particular. So this week, answers to your questions about "urban" resort fees, the relative value of Delta and America miles and the kinda-sorta new United business class. Plus, an interactive exercise in travel and politics.

February 16: TURKEY, TRAVEL, TURKISH AIRLINES--AND POLITICS
What's behind the collapse in traffic at Turkish Airlines and its hub at Istanbul Ataturk Airport? Raw, naked politics--the kind of the raw, naked politics that make it impossible to view travel in a bubble.

February 2: TRAVEL IS POLITICS. WE COVER IT. GET OVER IT.
Nobody at JoeSentMe.com makes any money from this. We are volunteers. We do it because we want to write about travel intelligently. To speak truth to power without worrying about pressure from advertisers. Or politicians. Or political fanboys. When Trump does dumb stuff and it affects travel, I'll call him on it. Just like we called out Obama and Bush when they did dumb stuff. And right now Trump is making our lives on the road miserable.

January 30: STRANGE DAYS INDEED
Late January and early February usually are among the slowest weeks of the year for travel, both business and leisure. Except for the odd blizzard, not much happens. This year? Strange days indeed. Yes, we got a requisite blizzard in the Northeast. But we also got computer meltdowns at United and Delta airlines that ground flights to a halt. And a week into his presidency, Donald J. Trump made good on a campaign promise and imposed a temporary ban on immigration and travel by people in seven nations. Federal courts promptly stayed all or parts of the President's executive order--and, of course, that sent him into a frenzy of tweets, recriminations and threats. Here is how we've been trying to cover it all.

January 26: GREECING THE WHEELS OF AIRLINE COMPETITION
Emirates this week announced a year-round nonstop between Newark and Athens and the big news is how little controversy surrounds the route. Gulf carriers have run into a competitive wall, which has slowed them much more effectively than the phony protectionism espoused by competition-adverse U.S. airlines. It's a lesson for us all.

January 19: LESS FOR THEM IS STILL NOT MORE FOR US
Now that all three legacy airlines have instituted Basic Economy fares, we know the truth. The fares aren't cheaper, just repackaged and stripped of basic functionality. And once again we know: Less for them is not more for us. The airlines once again remind us how much they despise customers, even the most frequent ones.

January 12: THE DEATH OF TRAVEL LOYALTY
It doesn't take a genius to know that travel loyalty is dead. Airlines and hotels have so bastardized and diluted frequency plans that the only winning move is not to play. There is another system, a better way for frequent travelers. Time to do what's good for us, not the travel industry.

January 8: A LONG WEEK AHEAD ON THE ROAD
I wanted to update you on conditions for travel this evening and next week, which is shaping up as rough. Plus some factual points on Friday's massacre at Fort Lauderdale Airport.

January 5: WHAT I WON'T CARE ABOUT ON THE ROAD IN 2017
You know why new years suck? Because travel talking heads 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. You won't get that from me. Instead, I'll you what I don't care about: Things like lying airline CEOS, self-aggrandizing hotel executives and stupid stuff done "out of an abundance of caution."

These columns originally appeared at JoeSentMe.com.

Copyright 1993-2017 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.