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Nobody Asked Me, But ...
July 23, 2015 -- Nobody asked me, but ...

Donald Trump on the stump is like the advertising for Spirit Airlines: childish, offensive and crude--and extremely effective with a certain segment of low-information consumers.

Speaking of Spirit, Delta's Basic Economy, the stripped-down coach price offered in many markets where Delta and Spirit compete, shows how phony these low-fare/high-fee rates truly are. Delta says 65 percent of travelers who start booking Basic Economy end up switching to higher fare categories because they realize there's no actual value in the quoted low Spirit-style rate.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Michael Matthews wrote last month about how few "amazing" hotel experiences he's had in his career. I am happy to report I had an amazing one last weekend in Dublin. My flight from New York arrived at dawn on Saturday morning. Even after walking both terminals at Dublin Airport and spending an hour in Aer Lingus' new business-class arrivals lounge, I found myself in the lobby of the Conrad hotel around 8:15 a.m.

The front-desk clerk quickly found my reservation, waived the 3 p.m. check-in time and gave me an upgraded room. He handed me a chit for breakfast and another for a drink at the hotel's terrific pub. When he heard I'd be checking out at the crack of dawn the next morning, he booked a cab for my 4:30 a.m. departure and offered to arrange a wake-up call and delivery of a cup of tea. When I told him I'd be back at the Conrad for another stay 36 hours later, he summoned a bellman who offered to come to my room at any time and collect whatever bag I might want to leave behind. When I hit the lobby next morning, the same bellman was waiting for me at the check-out desk with the cabbie in tow.

Nobody asked me, but ...

The repugnant airline-industry trade group, which uses the Orwellian name Airlines For America, opposes a rise in the passenger-facility charge, the $4.50-a-flight fee most airports charge to fund facilities and operations. The equally repugnant Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who is usually on board with anything his airline contributors tell him to want, prefers to increase the federal cap on PFCs so his hometown airports in Orlando can charge more. He's introduced a bill to cap checked-bag fees at $4.50. See the repugnant political game going on? If not, Bloomberg News explains it all.

I checked my dictionary and was surprised. You'd think there'd be a German word for "hoping both sides fail miserably and fall into a vat of acid," wouldn't you?

Nobody asked me, but ...

Speaking of Germany, you know German chancellor Angela Merkel insisted Greece accept a brutal package of "austerity measures," including allowing Sunday shopping. But I was in Hamburg last Sunday and you could shoot a cannon down the main shopping streets. Not a single retail shop was open even though there were many visitors in town for a major triathlon event.

By the way, the austerity package also required Greece to raise its VAT to 23 percent and slap it on a lot of items that were once exempt. So next time you visit, expect to pay more for meals, hotels and almost anything, including bread.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Several of you sent me this Rolling Stone story about a blogger who flies around the world for the supposed thrill of it all and literally doesn't have a home. You may recall that it's the same guy who tried to get you to pay for his $25,000 ride on Etihad Airways. Look, folks, I don't care about this feckless infant's lifestyle. It's a free country (in his case, almost literally) and if he wants to live an empty, pointless and emotionally bankrupt life, it really is his choice.

That said, I do object to the gullible mainstream media making believe this kid knows anything about business travel, which is what we do with real money, real purpose and real consequences. And I object when some fool at CNN uses him as the sole source for a supposed trend story about "a special breed of travelers" who fly weird routes to slurp airline wine.

Nobody asked me, but ...

The Canadian dollar has fallen to 77 U.S. cents. More Tim Hortons for me.

Just one problem with going to Canada: Several U.S. travelers I know have recently been turned back at the border for decades-old minor offenses such as marijuana possession. Now that the U.S. government is feeding our permanent records to Canadian authorities, Canadian border officers have been empowered to keep out anyone whose old infractions are a lot less offensive than a Tim Horton hip check.

Nobody asked me, but ...

The Big Three U.S. airlines are rushing to "upgauge" their fleets, swapping out 30-to-50-seat regional jets for larger RJs, putting Boeing 717s and 737s on routes they'd once busted down to RJs and even placing the odd Boeing 757 or widebody on routes once "downgauged" to 737s or Airbus A319s and A320s. This is generally good for us, of course, and sound business strategy since flying larger aircraft reduces airline costs. But airline executives act as if they were forced at gunpoint to downgauge in earlier years.

I want you to imagine the scene, fellow travelers. Thugs from Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer, wielding knives or shotguns and maybe hopped up on drugs that would get you kicked out of Canada, threatening frightened and weak-willed airline executives. "Buy our crappy, tiny planes," the aircraft-making thugs threaten, "or we'll ..." Geez, I should have thought out this joke better. What could they possibly have threatened?

Nobody asked me, but ...

There's a hotel building boom and lodging glut in Brooklyn, home to hipsters, holier-than-thou former Manhattanites and haughty makers of artisan everything. I looked on TripAdvisor and there are 54 existing properties in my old hometown. And a Brooklyn College journalist did a story about the boom of B&Bs in decidedly unhip parts of Brooklyn like my old neighborhood. All this astounds me since I wrote a column in 1998 about the opening of the first hotel in Brooklyn in 60 years.

Speaking of ridiculous lodging stories, Oakland this weekend slaps an additional $1.50-a-night tax on hotel stays in the stressed city across the bay from San Francisco. 'Cause, yeah, more taxes will make me want to stay in Oakland.

Nobody asked me, but ...

United Airlines reported record second-quarter earnings today and that ensures perpetually clueless chief executive Jeff Smisek will live to torture us for at least another quarter or two. But, man, the guy is a space cadet, as you can see by this astonishing, self-delusional interview.

As we have long known, United is phasing out its awful international first-class product, but Smisek's claim that first is only for "subsidized Gulf carriers" is truly bizarre. Have any of his C-suite acolytes told him that his transatlantic joint-venture partner, Lufthansa, has more aircraft outfitted with international first class than any carrier in the world? Is he aware that his primary transatlantic competitor, British Airways, has almost as many planes with first as Lufthansa? Does he know that his key transpacific partners, Singapore Airlines and All Nippon Airways, have lavish first-class service? Has anyone bothered to tell him that Qatar Airways, one of the "subsidized Gulf carriers," is getting rid of most of its first-class cabins?

Nobody asked me, but ...

It's nifty to see all these pictures coming from Pluto. But I do feel bad for Goofy.

By the way, it got lost in all the other coverage, but did you see that Donald Trump called Pluto "a loser, the worst in the solar system" because it is now classified as a dwarf planet?

This column is Copyright 2015 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2015 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.