The Brancatelli File By Joe Brancatelli
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Nobody Asked Me, But ...
May 12, 2016 -- Nobody asked me, but ...

It's now imperative to keep checking hotel prices before assuming your reservation is good to go. Two weeks ago, a hotel in Chicago I wanted to use on a specific night was quoting $419. I checked again the next day and, suddenly, it was $235. I need a hotel room in New York tomorrow night and the hotel I was looking at was quoting $295 last night. This morning I checked and it was $160.

Don't pay much attention to those "members only"/"book direct" discounts the major chains are rushing to introduce. None seems to beat the chains' AAA or AARP rates. In fact, AAA and AARP membership are important parts of any traveler's discount toolkit. "Members only" and "book direct" discounts? Not so much.

Nobody asked me, but ...

The British Airways-initiated fire sale on business and first class this week leads me to suggest you re-examine joining Registered Traveller, the British version of Global Entry. If we're going to have to transit Heathrow a lot, might as well make it a little less painful. See the details here.

How's London going to work as a transit hub for Europe if the British vote to exit the European Union next month? It's gonna be very interesting to watch. I just hope the BBC has a "swingometer" in its coverage. I don't know what swing the "swingometer" would measure. I just love when they throw to the guy whose job it is to stand in front of a green screen and make swinging motions with his hands ...

Nobody asked me, but ...

Do you think the dreadful performance of the TSA this year would be an issue in the presidential campaign if only either of the front-runners ever flew commercial? I mean, Trump's been flying that phallic black Trump 757 since forever and Hillary Clinton as a former first lady has been protected by the Secret Service since before time began.

I mean, just imagine one of them at a TSA checkpoint. Oh, the humanity ...

Nobody asked me, but ...

I'm not a fan of Anthony Bourdain's TV travelogues, but you should read this interview. His take on road food is exactly the same as the one I've espoused for years: Don't eat on planes, ignore room service and head for a local market when you want to find the real stuff.

Donald Trump now says his earlier demand for a ban on Muslim immigration was merely "a suggestion." In that spirit, I want to "suggest" to you that I have hair ...

Nobody asked me, but ...

I stopped drinking coffee when I got sick a couple of years back. I'm a tea fanatic now. We're much pickier about what we drink. We're also very poorly served by restaurants, hotels, airlines, airport clubs, you name it. I've happily settled on black currant and jasmine pearl from Sheffied Spice and Tea, which is run by a JoeSentMe member. And this is the best thing I've found lately: pack-your-own tea bags from Japan. I fill 'em with my blends, throw them in my carry-on and I'm freed from the swill the travel world claims is tea.

I also basically stopped eating meat when I got sick and I don't really miss it. So I can't for the life of me understand why a strain of vegans obsess over meat and dairy substitutes. I mean, if this is a thing now ...

Nobody asked me, but ...

Airlines are raking in so much dough and have stomped so hard on competition--read today's Seat 2B column for the numbers--that I'd normally suggest it's time to reregulate. But, you know, the TSA ... It's literally impossible to suggest a government solution to anything when you examine how the feds have cocked up a national-security imperative in just 15 years.

And, no, especially in an election year, proposed legislation that would bar checked-bag fees or regulate seat size won't pass. Congress will do nothing but grandstand and campaign between now and Election Day. Well, that and deciding whether they are #NeverTrump or #NeverHillary or #NeverKardashian. That's a thing, right?

Nobody asked me, but ...

Judd Hirsch guest stars as Leonard's father in tonight's episode of The Big Bang Theory. Whenever I think of Hirsch these days, I can't help remembering this. No, I don't actually think they spent $20,000 on a hammer ...

Remember just before Christmas I linked you to that glorious video of Aretha Franklin singing Carole King's A Natural Woman at the Kennedy Center Honors? Well, David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker saw the clip, too, and it inspired this remarkably detailed profile of Aretha. Grab it and read it on your next flight. It'll make you feel so good inside.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Couple of weeks ago, Gary Leff, who writes the View from the Wing blog, tweeted this: This plane is so old the Internet connects to AOL. Now every time I get on one of those aged American Airlines Super-80s, I can't help myself. I grab the knot of my imaginary tie and say to myself in Rodney Dangerfield's voice: This plane is so old the Internet connects to AOL.

And, yes, I still have AOL addresses. But when you've had an E-mail address for 25 years, it's hard work to change. I may still have an MCIMail address, too. And I'm pretty sure my subscription to The Source is paid through next year.

Nobody asked me, but ...

One of the things I try to do at JoeSentMe is avoid the crap that pollutes the business travel ecosphere. So I trust you trust me when I don't bother with junk-science studies that blame air rage on the existence of first class cabins.

On the other hand, I hate it when travelers are harassed for flying while Muslim or even doing math on a plane. It's why the column I'm most proud of writing is the first Brancatelli File column to appear at JoeSentMe.. But that it's still relevant 15 years later makes me very sad.

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.