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NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT ...
By Joe Brancatelli
February 4, 2010 -- Nobody asked me, but

Shutting down the computerized remnants of Northwest Airlines last weekend, Delta Air Lines reported this: "In March 2009, all customer-facing employees began wearing Delta's designer uniforms." Customer facing? WTF? When was "facing" the customer enough? Didn't these people once have to give customer service?

American Airlines told employees this week that it would eliminate free blankets in coach and sell an $8 packet that includes a pillow and blanket. American's explanation for the decision, which takes effect on May 1? "Customer focus group data tells us that shared communal blankets do not rate high " WTF? American executives run focus groups on blankets? You think they'd look for customer focus group data on what flyers think about American's worst-in-the-nation on-time performance, its atrocious baggage-handling ability or the hideous condition of its planes.

Nobody asked me, but

Aren't we thrilled to hear that The Kremlin is giving Aeroflot control of six smaller Russian carriers? Because, you know, Aeroflot ran so well the last time it was, well, Aeroflot.

The cabin staff of British Airways is taking another strike vote. Which means they may strike at the end of March, around the second anniversary of the opening of Terminal 5 at London/Heathrow Airport. Because British Airways executives are so interested in reminding travelers how well BA managed the opening of T5 in 2008.

Nobody asked me, but

I went to a famous steakhouse for a business lunch on Monday. When, exactly, did steak stop tasting good?

I got home and found a little box of Multigrain Cheerios bundled with my newspaper. When, exactly, did marketing executives think that people would eat food they picked up off the lawn?

Nobody asked me, but

I'm all for trying the Underwear Bomber in civilian courts. I'm all for trying terrorists in civilian courts. Our court system is what makes this country great. Why are we letting these punks railroad us into mounting show trials? Why would we listen to the politicians who tells us we're not strong enough to give these punks a fair trial? What are they afraid of?

Someone want to remind the Obama Administration that it still doesn't have a TSA Administrator?

Nobody asked me, but

Tried getting data off any of your 1990s era 3.5-inch discs lately? Mine are kept in pristine conditions and I had a 40 percent failure rate when I tried a few of them this week.

The iPad? Really? I mean, was there no one at Apple strong enough to tell Jivemaster Jobs that maybe iPad could have a troublesome connotation for half of the world's consumers?

Nobody asked me, but

A court ruled this week that the flute riff in Men at Work's 1981 hit, Down Under, infringed on a popular Australian children's tune called Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree. I don't really have much to say. I just wanted the opportunity to link to the Down Under music video. I love that song.

Speaking of music, you can't do better than Sky.fm. About three dozen free streams, including a great Beatles Tribute channel and a smashing bossa nova channel.

Nobody asked me, but

Who'da thunk it? Out-of-region traffic flying into the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, has risen by double-digit percentages since it renamed itself Manchester-Boston Regional.

The folks who run General Mitchell International in Milwaukee say 10 percent of the cars in its parking lots now have Illinois license plates. Makes you think about your next Boston-Chicago flight in a whole new way, doesn't it?

Nobody asked me, but

I was wrong about France24, the English-language all-news network the French launched to counter what they saw as the disproportionate global influence of the BBC and CNN. The French really do have a different approach to global news coverage. But can the bosses of France24 take a meeting with their newsreaders and come up with a standard pronunciation for the name? Every time I hear one say "Welcome to France VAN-KAAT-RUH!" and the next say "Welcome to France VAN-CAT!" I have nightmares about high-school French with Brother Cyril. And, really, you don't want to have nightmares about a clergyman cackling in Brooklyn-accented French when you're a middle-aged business traveler.

Besides, I already have nightmares about Frau Berger from my college German days. I think I still owe her a couple of papers about Goethe in Plusquamperfekt tense.

Nobody asked me, but

Someone want to tell me again how great the legacy carriers are doing with those baggage fees? It's just coincidence that Southwest Airlines' traffic in January rose by 7.1 percent even though it had cut its seat capacity by 6.7 percent, right? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Now that J.D. Salinger is dead, the nation's most famous literary recluse is Bill Watterson, who walked away from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip at the height of its popularity 15 years ago. This week he answered a few questions via E-mail for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Let's just say that we didn't learn much.

Nobody asked me, but

Just for the record: Not a single person has asked me about the Super Bowl.

Which is fine because it leaves me space to talk about the curling in next week's Winter Olympics. Just so you know: Scotland is the 2009 men's world champion. China is woman's world champion. And the thing they throw that looks like a teapot weighs 40 pounds. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what my carry-on weighs

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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 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.