HOME    E-MAIL JOE    PRINT    SEND MOBILE LINK    2010 COLUMNS    JOE'S ARCHIVES   SEARCH
NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT...
By Joe Brancatelli
September 30, 2010 -- Nobody asked me, but…

Here's an interesting nugget on the proposed Southwest-AirTran merger: Southwest and AirTran currently compete on just 20 city pairs. After the merger, though, Southwest will have no competition on 15 of those routes.

Here are two cities to watch post-merger: Milwaukee and Denver. If you recall, AirTran tried and failed to buy Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines several years ago. AirTran then started pouring capacity into Milwaukee and that helped force Midwest into bankruptcy and into the arms of the commuter carrier Republic Airways. Republic, which also owns Denver-based Frontier Airlines, has made a hash of both airlines. Sustained pressure from Southwest could mean the end of Republic. Meanwhile, Milwaukee-area travelers are reaping the benefits of the extra flights and month-to-month traffic is up 20-40 percent.

Nobody asked me, but…

Did all of you Platinum cardholders get that incredibly slick (and expensive) piece of junk mail this week from American Express? Can you imagine what Amex would have spent if they actually had a notable new benefit to announce?

One more time: You have until September, 2011, to move your Amex Membership Rewards points to Continental OnePass before the two part company. You don't have to rush. And if you really want to stay tied to Star Alliance and pile up points in Membership Rewards, try Air Canada's Aeroplan.

Nobody asked me, but…

Shocking as it seems, it's 20 years since German Reunification. All that's left of East Germany is a fleet of MZ motorcycles that is still running in Cuba. When Cuba finally opens up, there's gonna be a run on American cars from the 1950s and East German MZs from the 1970s. Me, I'm still holding out for an AMC Pacer. Come on, the French understood the Pacer.

Hey, aren't you glad we finally have a current photograph of Kim Jong-un, the 20-something leader-in-waiting of North Korea? The Brilliant Comrade's qualification for succeeding his father (Dear Leader) and his grandfather (Great Leader) atop the wacky North Korean system? He was educated in Switzerland. Apparently, it means that the Brilliant Comrade plans to bury us in private banks and chocolate…

Nobody asked me, but…

One bit of good news about Delta Air Lines' plummeting on-time ratings? The airline now limits 50-seat jets to routes of less than 750 miles. The airline may soon knock that down to 600 miles. You listening, American?

Kate Hanni, the self-styled passenger's rights activist, has dropped Delta from her suit claiming that someone hacked her E-mail. According to the legal filings, she paid her own legal costs and agreed to a dismissal with prejudice. You know how much you have to overreach to make an airline look good?

Nobody asked me, but…

Quick now, what's the leading airline to Scotland? Nope, not British Airways. Not Virgin Atlantic. Not even Bmi, er, British Midland International. It's Continental Airlines, which has 30 percent of the US-Scotland market.

The fastest-growing airline market in the world? The Middle East, where seat capacity and flights are growing by double-digit percentages. And to figure out how three ultra-long-haul intercontinental hubs (Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha) survive with virtually no domestic feed, look at the map. The region isn't a bad place to change plans en route to India, China and some parts of Africa. Long term? Let's just say I wouldn't want to be the airline executive who had to explain to some sheik why my airline is third in a three-airline market.

Nobody asked me, but…

Best show on TV that no one is watching? Community. It's a TV show that makes fun of television and movie cliches even while it makes fun of itself for making fun of television and movies. Go to Hulu and check out the episode called Modern Warfare if you want to laugh. Out loud.

CBS has refused to put its shows on the Internet. Which means you really can't time-shift and watch when it's convenient for you. And probably explains why CBS is running away with the TV ratings this year. If you like a show, you'll probably watch it when the network says to watch it since there are no other options. Of course, how did that do-what-we-tell-you attitude work long-term for the legacy airlines?

Nobody asked me, but…

I was in Providence, Rhode Island, last week and spent some time at the Culinary Museum at Johnson & Wales University. It had an exhibit about food on the go. You know, airlines, railroads, roadside dining. I snapped this shot of Howard Johnson's old pieman logo in neon.

I keep thinking that I should care more about the demise of Howard Johnson's restaurants as an American icon. (There are only three left, says HoJoLand.) Or at least have a joke about the clam fry. But nothing's coming…

Nobody asked me, but…

The shareholders of Dollar Thrifty on Thursday rejected Hertz's $1.5 billion offer to buy the company. That opens the door for Avis Budget, which has been making counter-offers ever since Hertz initially bid $1.27 billion in the spring. I'd have voted against Hertz just because of Wednesday's tirade by Hertz chief executive Mark P. Frissora. You think Frissora was the kind of kid who used to threaten to take his ball and go home if he didn't get to be the quarterback?

United Airlines and Continental Airlines are expected to officially close the merger tomorrow. Wake me up when it's all over.

HOME    E-MAIL JOE    PRINT    SEND MOBILE LINK    2010 COLUMNS    JOE'S ARCHIVES   SEARCH
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.