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 The Brancatelli File

joe NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT...

BY JOE BRANCATELLI

July 22, 2004 -- Nobody asked me, but...

No matter what the talking heads say right now, the 9-11 Commission report is dead on arrival. I haven't gone through the whole report, which was released this morning, but its relative merits are, sadly, unimportant. The Bush Administration has fought the Commission every step of the way and will bury the report in a second term. If Kerry wins, no one in his inner circle will spend political capital reviving the report's recommendations. And Congress, which could act now, is going home to campaign for reelection instead.

Why is everyone shocked by the video showing the 9-11 terrorists clearing security at Dulles Airport with comparative ease on that fateful day? We've always known that they accomplished their heinous acts with box cutters, small knives and other paraphernalia that were legal to carry aboard commercial jets on September 11, 2001.

Nobody asked me, but...

It's fascinating to watch US Airways go out of business. They're even doing that wrong. Southwest Airlines is ratcheting up the pressure in Philadelphia and US Airways has no credible response. And rather than sell off the Pittsburgh hub and make a few bucks, US Airways is destroying it by eliminating 35 percent of its spokes from the winter schedule and giving up gates so that low-fare airlines and other competitors can move right in. I'd say it's 50-50 that US Airways as we know it doesn't survive past the first quarter of 2006.

Pity the poor "cockroaches" who remain loyal to US Airways and are planning RoachFest for Philadelphia next month. Their keynote speaker appears to be the airline's chief flack, a one-note carpetbagger who has never met a third-rate airline executive he didn't insist was the next Bernard Baruch.

Nobody asked me, but...

Alaska Airlines is adding a row of seats to the coach cabins of its fleet of 40 Boeing 737-400s, reducing legroom from a barely livable 32 or 33 inches to a knee-crunching, "industry standard" 31 inches. That'll give Alaska a grand total of 240 extra seats, gained at the expense of the 5,000 or so other B737-400 passengers who'll be squeezed into the remaining seats and will consequently despise Alaska Airlines. This is why the term airline marketing is a joke.

I'll ask one more time: What part of restricted did you think the airlines were kidding about when they said you could have a free seat for 25,000 miles?

Nobody asked me, but...

I wonder what the McKenzie Brothers think of the Molson-Coors merger. Somehow, Canadian Corner wouldn't be the same with cases of the Silver Bullet on the set.

Can someone tell me again why I should care if Starbucks raises its prices? I mean, if you drink that badly roasted swill, you'll swallow anything, including a price hike.

Nobody asked me, but...

British Airways had a three-day fare sale this week and New York-London prices were as low as $89 one-way in November and the first two weeks in December. First transatlantic carrier to $49 one-way across the pond in February wins.

Alitalia launched Washington/Dulles-Milan nonstops and Air India began Los Angeles-Mumbai flights this year. And they told who in this country?

Nobody asked me, but...

I'll believe Anne Jacobsen witnessed a "dry run" for a terrorist hijacking on a Northwest Airlines flight last month when she can prove that she saw one of the purported terrorists sit in Seat 1A while she was seated in Row 17 on the left side of the same aircraft. Meanwhile, all you frequent flyers ensconced in seats 17A, 17B or 17C on a Boeing 757-300 who see Seat 1A over three rows of coach, the exit-door area, a jump seat, a lavatory bulkhead and five other rows of first class, please send me an E-mail.

Why isn't it okay for Linda Ronstadt to tell her audience that they should see Fahrenheit 9-11 but this Jacobsen paranoid can continue to go on television and make outrageous claims even after it's been proven that the men she's fingered as terrorists are innocent of any wrongdoing? I mean, if you want to boo Ronstadt off the stage because she can't sing the standards, that I understand.

Nobody asked me, but...

Why does United Airlines think a new amenities kit and a wine consultant that I've never heard of is going to convince me to book a premium-class ticket on an international flight? And why does United think I'll ignore the fact that it is canceling a disproportionately high number of flights because it screwed up the crew rotation on its fleet of Boeing 737s.

The 9-11 Commission says no one person was to blame for failing to stop the terrorist attack. I accept that, but, you know, if Clinton didn't have a zipper problem and didn't wag his finger in our faces and lie, then we might have been able to pay more attention and lend more support to his attempts to get bin Laden before 9/11.

Nobody asked me, but...

Delta's pilots offered $700 million in wage and work-rules concessions this week, but the airline's new chief executive says that it isn't enough. And exactly how much of the executive-retention bonuses that Delta paid out to managers who then promptly left the airline is Gerry Grinstein trying to recover?

American Airlines chief Gerald Arpey told us this week how what's left of the More Room in Coach program will die. He said the airline is moving "full speed ahead" with the development of new business-class seats for the airline's international widebodies. "When we finalize that seat, we also will finalize our thinking on the coach cabin," he said. Translation: Say goodbye to the remaining jets with More Room in Coach.

Nobody asked me, but...

Why am I supposed to be offended that a baseball player refuses to stand when the New York Yankees play God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch at Yankee Stadium? Last time I checked, God Bless America is not the national anthem and the estate of Irving Berlin makes money every time the song is played.

Is anyone at all going to Athens for the Olympics?

This column originally appeared at JoeSentMe.com.

Copyright 1993-2004 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.