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NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT ...
By Joe Brancatelli
July 3, 2014 -- Nobody asked me, but ...

United Airlines chief executive Jeff Smisek always has a scapegoat when things go wrong. His elite flyers are "over-entitled." Regular customers aren't paying enough. United's previous management didn't train employees correctly or maintain planes properly. The staff does not understand United is a business. But if things continue to go badly, he's going to have to stand on the corner of North Michigan Avenue blaming passersby at random.

Oh, wait, Jeff is in luck. A new scapegoat has just appeared. Bob McAdoo, an airline analyst who once held key positions at TWA, PeopleExpress and Texas Air, last week blasted United and downgraded its shares. Can't wait for Jeff to explain at this month's second-quarter earnings call that it's all McAdoo's fault.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Summer officially started on June 21, but business travelers know the season doesn't really begin until we get the first summer luggage meltdown at Heathrow Airport.

Speaking of summertime when the weather is high, ever wonder what happened to Mungo Jerry? You know, the guy who wrote and performed In the Summertime. Answer here. And now that you're involuntarily humming the tune, here's the song.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Nobody likes airport clubs better than yours truly and Lufthansa has some terrific ones around the world. But this guy who kept changing his ticket so he could score some club freebies takes the kuchen. There isn't enough free weissbier in the world to make me go to an airport when I don't have to fly.

Want to know why you're flying more and enjoying it less? According to the Transportation Department, mainline carriers offered 16 percent less capacity in 2011 than in 2001. During the same ten-year span, however, regional-jet carriers are at 153 percent of their 2001 capacity. At United, RJs represent 7.6 percent of its schedule. It's 5.3 percent at American and 3.4 percent at Delta.

Nobody asked me, but ...

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected Delta Air Lines' request to trademark the slogan "the world's most trusted airline." Of course, the guy who issued the ruling was biased. He's a Delta customer.

Now that it's not "the world's most trusted airline," Delta has reacted in the right way: It has lowered the number of miles required in its status-match challenge. The details are here. Of course, that still doesn't make me trust SkyMiles.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Columnists are at the bleeding edge of the publish-or-perish dictum. We throw stuff out there, hope we've caught the pitch of the hall or, at worst, didn't make fools of ourselves. But I don't think I've ever seen anything like last weekend's reaction to Stephanie Rosenbloom's admittedly silly column in The New York Times travel section. The comments are brutal.

Elsewhere in The Times, you might as well read this BJ of a piece on the new ad campaign for Starwood's Le Meridien chain. If your rate goes up $30 a night at a Le Meridien, blame Stuart Elliott.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Can we have just one rule about these talking-head "Mideast terrorism" experts who pop up on the cable-news channels: If they pronounce it EYE-rack or EYE-ran, don't put them on the air.

The Big Bang Theory has replaced The Simpsons as the show you can always find if you flip on the TV in any hotel room anywhere in the world. Seven seasons in, though, we still don't know Penny's last name.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Hilton has opened the first Homewood Suites property in Manhattan. The official name? The "Homewood Suites by Hilton New York/Midtown Manhattan Times Square-South, NY." I dare you to fly into New York, hail a cab and say "Take me to the Homewood Suites by Hilton New York/Midtown Manhattan Times Square-South, NY." I dare you.

Atlantis, the big resort in the Bahamas, has come to its senses. It's joining Marriott's Autograph Collection, which means you'll soon be able to earn and burn Marriott Rewards points there. Of course, "come to its senses" is code for, "Holy crap, there's competition coming." That would be a $3.5 billion development called Baha Mar, which will have four hotels, including a Grand Hyatt.

Nobody asked me, but ...

If you're one of those folks who rue the endless parade of black rolling bags that tumbles off the baggage carousel, I give you Luggage Pros. It allows you to customize your luggage with your own picture.

I think I'll get me one of those customized bags. And just to play with people's heads, the image I'll emblazon on my bag is a picture of a piece of black rolling luggage.

Nobody asked me, but ...

So I'm halfheartedly watching the USA-Belgium match this week and the announcer says something like "Belgium has outshot the Americans 14-3. Statistics don't lie." Except, you know, the score was 0-0. Oh, sorry, nil-nil.

I'm sorry Team USA lost, but mostly I'm just glad that John McCain didn't demand we bomb Belgium in retribution.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I have always thought that Dylan could sing some standards. But now that he's working on a Sinatra tribute album and has released his cover of Full Moon and Empty Arms, I'm beginning to have serious doubts.

My biggest fear? That United Airlines will choose a Dylan-sings-Sinatra track as a replacement for Rhapsody in Blue.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Don't shoot the messenger here, but here are some "ancillary charges" that the airlines have not invented yet but surely will: a "courtesy" fee for allowing you to change your ticket when they issue a weather-related travel waiver; an inactivity fee if you don't access your frequent-flyer program in a six-month period; a fee for "priority" telephone service; and, of course, a fee for returning your luggage after they've "mishandled" it.

Word to the folks behind the supposed start-up called Airline 4.0. If you are going to be "the next generation airline," maybe you shouldn't build your Web site using the free version of Wix.com.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Marlon Brando's private-island Polynesian hideaway has been turned into a 35-room resort called, aptly enough, The Brando.

Notice there's no snarky line attached to the item above. That's because I couldn't decide if I should say something like "I hear the food's pretty good." Or "I can't wait for the New Orleans tenement on Elysian Field Avenue to reopen as a boutique hotel called The Stanley." Or just "The new resort doesn't have official rates. They make you an offer you can't refuse."

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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.