It Never Hurts To Answer

It Never Hurts To Answer

Nobody Asked Me, But…
I’m sorry that Leo Mullin is “retiring” as president and chief executive of Delta Air Lines. Now I won’t be able to write that the highest-paid airline boss on the planet is demanding huge givebacks from the highest-paid airline pilots on the planet. But keep that cosmic balance in mind when you read mainstream-media stories about high labor costs being the cause of the Big Six problems.

Shouldn’t all airlines at all airports be doing what Southwest is doing at Albany, New York? Southwest’s gates there now have dual passenger bridges that offer travelers the choice of boarding and deplaning through the forward or aft doors. Two doors mean faster loading and unloading times. That means better aircraft utilization and lower operating costs. Real rocket science, huh?

Nobody Asked Me, But…
Why are Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton and the Conrad luxury division of Hilton all opening hotels in the Miami area within the next 30 days? I mean, Miami needs more hotel rooms like frequent flyers need another pat-down at security.

Ted? Ted? I mean, United Airlines paid outside marketing and advertising companies for that?

Nobody Asked Me, But…
Why does anyone listen when Richard Branson says he’s going to launch a U.S. domestic airline next year? He’s been saying that every year for the last five years.

When are business travelers going to learn that using a guestroom telephone is the financial equivalent of putting a gun to your head? What part of “Use your cell phone!” don’t you understand?

Nobody Asked Me, But…
Have you noticed that United Airlines has stopped talking about its on-time record? Last year, management was crowing about the airline’s miraculous turnaround. But since it finished first in on-time performance during the fourth quarter of 2002, it slid to second (first quarter of this year) and then fifth (the second and third quarters). October’s statistics were released in today’s (Dec. 4) Air Travel Consumer Report and United has now dropped back to ninth.

And have you noticed that US Airways management has also shut its corporate yap about on-time performance? After finishing a heady third in last year’s fourth quarter, US Airways skidded to ninth in the first quarter of 2003 and then to 15th out of 17 carriers in the second and third quarters. It ranked a middling seventh out of 17 in October.

Nobody Asked Me, But…
I finally got around to seeing Bend It Like Beckham over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. Funny and touching. And I can’t help but note that most of the action takes place in Hounslow, the London suburb at Heathrow’s front door. It also explains why the Indian food in Hounslow–especially the Heathrow Tandoori on the Great West Road–is so good.

Somebody at The Simpsons doesn’t like Marriott. In a scene that appeared in last week’s episode, Homer is driving to the town dump and the sign at the entry says, “Springfield Dump.” Then, in small letters, the sign adds, “Not Associated With the Springfield Marriott.”

Nobody Asked Me, But…
Cathay Pacific says it will finally launch its nonstop New York-Hong Kong flights next year. Emirates says it will finally begin its twice-delayed New York-Dubai service in 2004. Singapore Airlines says its Los Angeles-Singapore nonstops will begin in February. That’s three more reasons not to use the Big Six U.S. carriers internationally.

I have now heard from exactly two business travelers who’ve said they’ve flown Song.

Nodoby Asked Me, But…
American Airlines’ Web site is generally dreadful, mostly because it is based on creaky, old Sabre technology, but I just love the function that allows you to check specific seat availability before you book a flight. I’d give you the link to the service, but AA.com doesn’t allow you to bookmark these kinds of useful functions.

Is the airlines-selling-food craze over yet?

Nobody Asked Me, But…
Have you noticed how the great National-Alamo conglomeration is over? The new owner of the two car-rental firms is frantically undoing the previous policy of merging the two chains’ airport products and services.

The television ads for AOL Version 9.0 are better than the software.

Nobody Asked Me, But…
I’ve got no problem with US Airways barring Jeffrey Gitomer from its flights because the salesman-cum-commentator criticized the airline too frequently and too vehemently. As long as it doesn’t violate the law, US Airways is free to sell–or not sell–its services to anyone it wishes. But if I had as few customers as US Airways has and was losing as much money as US Airways is losing, I’d sure think twice before barring anyone actually willing to pony up for a seat.

Amtrak president and chief executive David Gunn now has former American Airlines chief Bob Crandall on his board of directors. Now we’ve got two guys who never made a mistake concocting absurd rationales for burning through hundreds of taxpayer dollars per passenger on inefficient and unnecessary long-haul rail routes.

Nobody Asked Me, But…
I think the OAG Executive Flight Guide is a nicely formatted replacement for the old Pocket Flight Guide. But I have the same reaction to the EFG as I do to the American Express SkyGuide: I need to pay $40-$100 a year for outdated-when-I-receive-them printed flight schedules because…

My technical sources say this is definitely not the time to buy one of those cool flat televisions. The next generation of large-screen LCD display sets will be much better and dramatically cheaper, they predict.

Nobody Asked Me, But…
United isn’t getting enough credit for shoring up and improving its Mileage Plus elite levels. Of course, they still haven’t done anything to reach out to all the elite flyers they lost in 2000 and 2001, but, hey, at least they are treating their current best customers better than most of the Big Six.

Many first-class seats on Northwest offer 34 inches of seat pitch. Many coach seats on American and JetBlue offer 34 inches of seat pitch. I’m just saying…

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