Freddie and Joe

Freddie and Joe

I’d like to tell you about two friends of mine — Freddie and Joe.

Let’s start with Joe. I’m talking about Joe Brancatelli, who has been as good a friend as one will find anywhere. For years Joe has been kind enough to allow us to feature his words in Inside Flyer — all at no fee to us. How can a man as talented as Joe keep food on the table if he allows me to enrich the value of this magazine for gratis?

And Joe is as good as it gets in this business. Sure he’s a New Yorker, and with that comes a little edge (actually, he aspires to root for the Cleveland Indians). But what Joe’s also got is years of journalism experience. Me? Well, I’m just a frequent flyer who got lucky when I guessed that frequent-flyer miles would become a topic that would interest a lot of people. I was dragged from my coach seat on TWA (OK, I did get a few upgrades along the way) in the mid-80s into the role of editor, writer and publisher of this magazine. And all along this journey I always read the words of the Editor of OAG’s Frequent Flyer magazine — Joe’s words.

I suspect that deep down I wanted to grow up and be like Joe. He was the first real journalist in 1983 and 1984 that wrote, and more importantly, understood, what frequent flyer programs were all about. He moved on to other things, then back to the topic of business travel. I caught back up with him when he wrote for biztravel.com and was furious when that Web site folded and stiffed him for money they owed him. Joe didn’t deserve that, and his writing and observations were worth far more than whatever they were paying him anyway.

OK, so where am I going with all this adoration? Well, Joe decided that he’d spend all hours of the day gathering the news and information important to frequent flyers (we traded emails the other night at 1:30 a.m.) and start JoeSentMe.com — I love the title of his Web site.

For a nominal fee, travelers of all kinds can receive information that is as much-needed as it is well-written. Though Joe is from Venus and I’m from Mars when it comes to our views on frequent-travel programs, I can tell you that I still gladly pay his Web site fee to read his stuff. And why shouldn’t I? It makes be a better and more informed traveler. Granted he is out there sometimes with his comments, but then again, who among us doesn’t rant from time to time as we negotiate the maze of travel? He doesn’t write much about miles and points any more (maybe that’s why I like him so much), but what he puts out on the topic of travel is very good.

I’m asking you to support JoeSentMe.com as you support me. Throw a few dollars his way and you’ll be a far better traveler for it (www.joesentme.com).

Freddie is my other friend. And at this time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that voting for the 15th Annual Freddie Awards begins on January 15th. For the next two months, you’ll be able to choose and reward with your vote those programs that you, and only you, feel have done the best job in managing your loyalty to frequent traveler programs.

This has been another interesting year, and the Freddie Awards afford a unique opportunity to let everyone know how the traveling public views these programs. I look forward to seeing you online at www.freddieawards.com and to the opportunity in late April to announce the results of yours, and hundreds of thousands of other travelers’ choices. This is truly a traveler’s-choice award.

P.S. Happy New Year!

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