The Brancatelli File By Joe Brancatelli
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Nobody Asked Me, But ...
Thursday, June 21, 2018 -- Nobody asked me, but ...

PSA, an American Airlines-owned commuter carrier, has cancelled more than 3,000 flights since June 10. Virtually all of them to/from its hub in Charlotte. The cause: a faulty crew-scheduling computer. American hasn't moved a single mainline flight to Charlotte to help or even issued a travel waiver to allow passengers to rebook around Charlotte.

How can an airline act this way? Because it's run by Doug Parker, a dreadful person and an awful airline operator. When Parker ran US Airways, a similar thing happened in Philadelphia. He didn't lift a finger to fix things then, either.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Speaking of airlines and creepy corporate DNA, consider United Airlines' decision this week to dump stroopwafels from most flights. You'll recall that the caramel wafer was part of United's attempt to improve in-flight service after years of cutbacks under ousted chief executive Jeff Smisek. But now United is switching to a maple-flavored cookie. Why? Money for one thing. The package of stroopwafel weighed 29 grams. The replacement packet of cookies weighs just 17 grams.

Sadly, this is exactly the tack--cut corners and cookies--that United employed back when Glenn Tilton ran the airline before Smisek. During his cookie-cutting regime, the size of Biscoff biscuits was slashed. If nothing else, you have to marvel at the consistency of the pennywise/pound foolish approach airlines take regardless of who's in charge.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I'm okay with the end of Net Neutrality even though I think the idiot running the FCC opened the door to all sorts of abuse from monopolistic Internet access operators. But I'll check into a hotel with my elite status, use my enhanced free Internet and never check out.

I'm astounded by the number of movies available free on YouTube because copyrights expired. Whenever you're bored in your hotel room, use that premium high-speed Internet and check out The Stranger, a great flick with Edward G. Robinson as a Nazi hunter tracking contemptible Orson Welles. And I've always liked The Groundstar Conspiracy, a 1972 George Peppard flick that also features many of the players from Banacek, his underrated TV series of the same era.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I'm no fan of Donald Trump. Few New Yorkers are. But I'll cut him a break for this bizarre interview last week. It was the day after he returned from Singapore. He clearly was jetlagged. Seriously. That's gotta be jet lag talking.

Which brings up Roseanne Barr, who claims it was Ambien that made her tweet nasty, racist stuff. I can't speak to the racist stuff, but it should be a lesson to you: Ambien ain't breath mints. If you're taking it on a plane and you have jet lag, you end up sounding like you're spouting dialogue from Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Airlines were virtue-signaling this week during the child-separation crisis. All but Delta issued statements saying they didn't want the government putting children on their flights. It was all bullshit, of course, because the government has negotiated rates and the airlines would be hard-pressed to turn away a legitimately ticketed passenger flying on a government rate. But, you know, virtue-signaling from the folks who think nothing of stranding customers in Charlotte or calling cops and having them drag flyers down the aisle and off a plane.

Ann Coulter claimed that migrant children separated from their parents at the border were crisis actors. Of course, Ann Coulter is very tall and she might actually be a pair of child actors, one standing on the shoulders of the other.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Here is a scam I stumbled on this week trying to cash some Hilton Honors points. At several of its luxury properties, they charge 1,000 points a night more if you enter two guests instead of one. Of course, Hilton claims all awards are for two. So this sort of nickel-and-diming is par for the frequency program course.

By the way, a follow-up to last week's column about the larger-scale scam run by Delta SkyMiles. Be especially careful if you ask for a business class award that contains an international connection. Delta won't display "mixed cabin" to alert you to a coach connection on a SkyTeam or other partner airline. It simply displays DeltaOne for its flight and "flight partner service" for the connection. Not coach, which it is. But "flight partner service." It's a disgusting scam brought to you by the masters of disgusting frequent flyer program scams.

Nobody asked me, but ...

The thing I hate the most about the Internet these days are those "follow" E-mails when you abandon a shopping cart on a Web site.

Heads up for credit card churners: The last two cards I've picked up to grab the acquisition bonus have had insanely short closing dates for the first statement. Ten days from when you're approved. Which often means a week or less from when you have the card in your hand to begin hitting the required spend. This is one way the card companies are cutting the cost of being in the airline/hotel card business. By slashing float time before the first statement, they reduce their loan exposure.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Watch for Delta Air Lines to declare Austin a "focus city" in the months ahead. That's no surprise. Traffic to/from Austin is growing rapidly and no one dominates the market. The three busiest routes to/from Austin connect to hubs (DFW, Atlanta, Denver), which means there is plenty of room to introduce premium-priced nonstop flights to circumvent those hubs. At the moment, Delta is number four at Austin. Its 12.8 percent share trails Southwest (37.6 percent), American (17.5 percent) and United (13.1 percent).

I turned 65 last month and the best "gift" I got from a travel company was from NH Hotels. It sent me a 20 percent coupon for a discount on my next stay. Assuming the capacity controls haven't kicked in and I use the coupon in the next 90 days. To be honest, it hardly seems much of a payoff for 65 years, about 40 of them spent on the road ...

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