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 The Brancatelli File

joe NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT...

BY JOE BRANCATELLI

May 25, 2006 -- Nobody asked me, butů

Forget spas, duvets, nine pillows on the beds and bottles of rosemary-mint shampoo. The single best hotel innovation in years is the curved shower rod. I mean, the curved shower rod bends the laws of the physical universe. And you don't get slapped with a slimy, plastic shower curtain.

Examine those "euro equals dollar" deals carefully this summer. A lot of European hotel chains offering the promotion actually have lower-priced rates available. Just because the dollar is impossibly weak (€1=US$1.28) doesn't mean you shouldn't do the math.

Nobody asked me, butů

How did Bob Dylan get to be 65 years old? And how can 31 years have passed since Blood on the Tracks?

Paul McCartney, who wrote "When I'm 64," is 64 this year. And he is getting divorced, which pretty much answers the question: "Will you still be sending me a Valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?"

Nobody asked me, butů

The airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, has added the word "Boston" to its name. Now the airport in Worcester, Massachusetts, wants to do the same. Starting next week, this Web site will be called "JoeSentMe.com by J.D. Salinger."

The opening of the new airport in Bangkok has been delayed again. This time the culprit is repairs on buildings that haven't even opened yet. I think that's because they first started building the new airport when Yul Brynner was King.

Nobody asked me, butů

I think it's time for the frequent flyers who hacked the computers at American Airlines and surreptitiously lowered fares to give themselves up. Look at the havoc you have caused. "Fares have been too low; that's why the industry has lost billions and billions of dollars," American chairman and chief executive Gerard Arpey told the Chicago Tribune today.

This just in: Five business travelers wearing stocking caps and armed with machine guns broke into Gerald Arpey's office this afternoon and forced him to launch unprofitable flights from Dallas/Love Field. "We're tired of Southwest Airlines having a monopoly on flights from Love to St. Louis and Kansas City!" one of the travelers screamed. "We're going to make sure American flies those routes until it collapses from the low fares we're making Arpey charge!" There were early and unconfirmed reports that the business travelers were part of the same shadowy group that forced American to harass JetBlue Airways four years ago by launching a series of brutally unprofitable flights from Long Beach.

Nobody asked me, butů

Pat Robertson says God has tipped him off to a tsunami that will hit the Pacific Northwest sometime this year. Fine, Pat, fine. But do us a favor. Next time you talk to Him, find out where the ark is docked. And don't forget the unicorns this time.

I think I got it now. The Da Vinci Code insinuates that Leonardo hid clues to the location of the Maltese Falcon in his paintings. And you can figure it all out when you realize that the Mona Lisa is really Sydney Greenstreet in drag. Did I get that right?

Nobody asked me, butů

Roger Frizzell, the top public-relations man at American Airlines, quoted himself in a press release last week about the Wright Amendment. "It's always a shame when anyone falls for Southwest's rhetoric," he reported that he said. I dunno, I think it's always a shame when an airline flack invents a quote so dumb that even Arpey won't agree to be quoted as saying it.

US Airways finally got around to launching its post-merger Web site this week. According to travelers trying to use it, the new USAirways.com has lost reservations, shorn upwards of 100,000 miles from Dividend Miles accounts and told potential ticket buyers that US Airways doesn't fly to cities such as Philadelphia and Charlotte. Boy, I know I can't wait until the airline merges its workforce and fleet.

Nobody asked me, butů

Someone explain it to me again. United Airlines hires Glenn Tilton in 2002 as chairman and chief executive officer. The chairman and chief executive's job is to protect the interest of shareholders. He puts the airline in bankruptcy and the shareholders lose everything. When United gets out of Chapter 11 more than three years later, Tilton emerges as the fourth-largest shareholder and largest individual shareholder of the new company.

Speaking of stocks, United was selling at almost $39 on Monday, May 8, when the airline released its first post-bankruptcy quarterly report. It closed at $30.60 today. US Airways reported a profit the next day and its stock shot as high $52 a share. It closed below $44 today. During the same 17-day period, Continental and American have each lost about 20 percent of their value.

Nobody asked me, butů

I think those new Mac television ads are hilarious and brilliantly depict what Apple thinks it offers that Windows-based computers do not. As an advertising campaign, it is remarkably effective. But Apple lost me in 1997 when it retroactively cancelled a benefit that I had already purchased with my Mac. That's something even a Big Six carrier has never done and no slick ad campaign will make me forget it.

Just who is Billy Mays and why should I believe anything he says about laundry detergent, hair trimmers, bathroom cleansers or the cleaning power of oxygen and orange oil?

Nobody asked me, butů

Ben Baldanza, whose strategic and marketing prowess almost single-handedly destroyed the last independent iteration of US Airways, was named chief executive of Spirit Airlines this week. Gee, some snarky comments just write themselves, don't they?

Speaking of snarky comments writing themselves, the Star Alliance this week announced Air China as its newest member.

Nobody asked me, butů

At the behest of Delta Air Lines, Mississippi Senator and former majority leader Trent Lott has gummed up the stalled pension-reform bill by inserting a clause that would give airlines 20 years more than any other companies to fund their pension shortfall. I liked it so much better when disgraced Congressional powerhouses like Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay and Dan Rostenkowski just quit.

When asked if he would see Al Gore's new movie on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, President Bush said: "Doubt it." Sorry, I got nothing.

Nobody asked me, butů

Has anyone thought to look for Jimmy Hoffa at the Unclaimed Baggage Center?

I said it before and I'll say it again: It's a crime against journalism that there are no books in print by Jimmy Cannon, the brilliant columnist who invented the "Nobody asked me, butů" format.

Copyright ę 1993-2006 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.