Monthly Archives: January 2010

Pigs Fly, Santa Does Exist, And the New Orleans Saints Are In the Superbowl

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It’s been almost 12 hours, but the shock has still not completely worn off.

Or maybe it’s just my mind and body trying to get back to some semblance of normal after experiencing almost four hours of what was a roller coaster of emotions consisting primarily of terror and anxiety, interrupted occasionally by bursts of excitement. Only to be followed by attempts to keep that nauseous sense of dread from taking over the ride.

Yes, the New Orleans Saints are headed to the Superbowl.

There, they will meet New Orleans-native son Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.

Yes, that same Peyton Manning who grew up watching his father, quarterback Archie Manning, staring up at the roof of the Superdome more often than not on Sunday afternoons — as the New Orleans Saints of another era were routinely pummeled by opposing teams.

Did I ever possess an “Aint’s Bag”? Of course I did. Yours truly can remember many a game in the Superdome where I, along with a group of close pals, would drag in boxes of Popeye’s Fried Chicken, along with the requisite strategically hidden stashes of liquid additives for our Coca-Colas, up to the nosebleed seats in the Terrace level in the Louisiana Superdome. Then, almost without fail, we would masochistically endure yet another heart-breaking loss by the then-hapless boys in the black and gold.

But not before we had made our hands sore and red from banging on the aluminum panels that cover the walls in the upper deck of the stadium. They made a huge racket.

And not before we had completely lost our voices.

But for some strange reason, we never lost our faith.

Faith in the team, and, well, in the city itself. And trust me, living in New Orleans will test your faith every single day — in one way or another.

In fact, the game last night? Long periods of anxiety interrupted by bursts of over-the-top happiness, overlaid with this huge sense of dread that threatens to take over at any time? Yep. That’s is essentially the metaphor for what it means to live in the city.

As I tell a lot of people — it’s just too damn complicated to explain. But once you experience it, you’re doomed. Nothing else ever comes close.

You might as well face it — you are going to be hearing a lot about New Orleans from the usual press sources over the next two weeks. Please be patient. Let the folks who still call the city home — let them enjoy their time in the sun. They more than deserve it.

Besides, think of what the alternative would have been. Instead of learning what it means to “Second Line,” what a truly great guy Drew Brees is in every sense of the word, and how you make barbecued shrimp from Mr. B’s, you could be watching film clips of pine trees in Kiln, Mississippi, and yet another interview of a deliberately pensive Brett Favre, as he talks about how whether the Superbowl will be his last game or not.

Bzzzzzt. Not.

Brett, it really is now time to go ride that tractor. Ride, baby, ride.

And how ’bout the young man who calmly booted that winning field goal in overtime? Garrett Hartley is a product of that Texas high school football powerhouse that sits just down the road from the Worldwide Headquarters — Southlake Carroll High School.

I mean, what else can one ask for?

Well, I guess I could ask for someone else to come in my office today and finish writing this mega-earnings issue of PlaneBusiness Banter that is sitting on my computer — so I could just crawl the net and read all the stories I can find about the game. And continue to wallow in the warmth of the win.

But alas, duty calls. Subscribers, this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter will be posted later today. Talk to you then.

Frontier-Republic: Clearing up a Possible Misperception

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I had an interesting note from a former subscriber to PlaneBusiness Banter this afternoon. Since he no longer reads us on a weekly basis, he took my earlier post about the Frontier employee rogue blog as implying that I am not a fan of the Republic Holdings/Frontier/Midwest Airlines experiment.

Au contraire. If any of you out there think the same — continue reading.

I have been a pretty optimistic supporter of Mr. Bedford’s experiment over the last year. Although I have been concerned about his lack of cash. But for those of you who are subscribers and read my review of the Republic Holdings third quarter earnings call in November — you know that I continued, at that point, to give the boys in Indy the benefit of the doubt as they made their way across the mine-filled tundra of their cut and paste business plan. With two BIG conditions.

Those conditions were: that the guts of the Frontier Airlines management team, headed by Sean Menke stay associated with the new venture. In November, this was assumed to be the case.

This is no longer the case.

Second condition: that the brain trust at Republic Holdings did not dismiss the incredible value of the employee/management relationship at Frontier Airlines. That it not start to rip that culture apart — all in the name of making some numbers look better.

Unfortunately, I am afraid now that the continuation of that valuable Frontier culture seems to be in danger — given some moves of late by the Republic management team.

So no — I was, up until recently, a rather optimistic observer of the grand experiment.

Then again, I’m not saying that the whole thing is dead — I’m just not encouraged by the recent news coming out of Indianapolis. Much less my email box — especially from those close to the Frontier operation.

Rogue Frontier Airlines Blog: This is Good Stuff

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One of the things that airline management team members have to understand is this — In this day of blogs and internet chat rooms — you can’t sweep the voice of concerned and/or pissed off and/or disillusioned employees under the rug like you used to years ago.

Nope. Those days are long gone.

Need we talk about the series of “Hitler” videos from the various airline pilot groups that popped up last year?

Today, the latest example of this: A blog by the name of “All Things Frontier Airlines.

No, I don’t know who is writing this effort, but whoever it is is both very knowledgeable about the airline, and he/she has a razor wit to boot.

Kudos to whomever is writing this. It is one of the better “rogue” efforts we’ve seen in a long time.

Here is a snippet from the Thursday post.

“Today, Republic found themselves in the news twice. The first article which appeared in the Denver Post, was aptly named “Republic chief has “work to do”. For the most part the article was pretty mundane, but for me the most telling quote in the piece was, “Bedford said there are no immediate plans to replace Menke but that if a successor is named, the person will be added at Republic headquarters.” Apparently, Bedford has obtained a copy of “Revenue Management for Dummies” and feels that he no longer needs the services of anyone with experience in that field or that moving the functions to Indianapolis will magically solve all of those issues like it has everything else. The article goes on to mention that Frontier will be receiving 3 Airbus 330′s and 7 Embraer 190 aircraft. I truly hope that the A330 mention was a misquote or a typo instead of A320, but at this point I can’t say I would be surprised if it was not and Mr. Bedford doesn’t realize the differences in the aircraft. Most of all, I really like the title of this article, “Republic chief has “work to do”. Naturally, I began to wonder what work Mr. Bedford has in store. After much searching, I was finally able to obtain this mysterious “To Do” list and as I think you will see, it offers much insight on what it takes to be the CEO at Republic Airways.

Brian Bedford To Do list:
- Check E-Mail and forward “Obama no birth certificate email” again to the non believers.
- Look up current fuel prices and figure out what can be moved to Indianapolis or who’s pay can be cut as a result.
- Take a nap.
- Call CEO of Qwest and convince him to move the business and employees to Indianapolis.
- Prepare weekly letter to employees by incorporating at least 2 scriptures, 1 quote from Winston Churchill, and the evils of same sex marriage.”


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Blew the keyboard out of my laptop yesterday Tuesday night …. just trying to see if I can use my old configs on my desktop to get online!

The Personal Side of Ice and Snow Takes Top Billing from Mesa Air Group’s Bankruptcy Filing

In the last two days I have lost count of how many of you have sent me notes re: Mesa Air Group’s bankruptcy filing.

No, I am not on another planet.

Yes, of course I am aware the airline filed for bankruptcy.

Yes, I’ll be talking about it in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter.

But I have what I think is a pretty good reason for not jumping in here and jabbering about Mesa, or anything else for that matter.

It goes something like this.

Over the last couple of days I traveled to New Orleans where I retrieved PlaneDad, who is now 90. We both drove back to the DFW Worldwide Headquarters, as he planned on staying in this part of the world for a week or so.

Up until that point, all was well, including a perfect flight for me on Southwest Airlines over to MSY.

But it was after he and I returned to DFW that the story takes a little more disheartening turn, for you see, my father decided in the early AM hours to go out to his car to retrieve a banana that he had brought with him. The banana, of course, was to go on his shredded wheat.

Yes, PlaneDad is a creature of habit. No shredded wheat without the banana. And the 2% milk. Accompanied, of course, by a glass of pulpless orange juice.

I told him no, don’t go out there. It is icy. He said he would be careful. I said again, no, I will go get my shoes. Just sit down.

You know where this is headed.

I went in to put my shoes and my coat on — and he went out the door. And not 10 seconds later, he was down on the driveway pavement of the Worldwide Headquarters with what appeared to be, and as of today has been confirmed — a shattered left hip.

So pardon my silence on all things airline for the last couple of days — particularly the news concerning the Mesa bankruptcy.

Then again — I noted when we awarded the Mesa Air Group Board of Directors with our PlaneBusiness Ron Allen Airline Mismanagement Award two years ago that bankruptcy was probably a foregone conclusion for the airline.

Two years ago.

Can’t say I didn’t give you plenty of warning.

Update on TSA Idiocy: Subpoenas Pulled

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I am very happy to report that the braintrust at the TSA (is that an accurate assumption?) decided that perhaps slapping subpoenas on travel-site bloggers who posted revised TSA passenger security guidelines that were pretty readily available all over the web anyway was a big waste of time.

But not before some damage was done. Specifically to blogger Steve Frischling’s hard drive.

But before I get into the details — a mea culpa. I forgot to note the address of Steve’s blog in my earlier post on this debacle. Steve, who is a photographer when not posting to one of his blogs, writes FlyingWithFish. I had previously only mentioned his work involving the KLM blog.

On New Year’s Eve the TSA apparently notified both Steve and Chris Elliott that the previously served subpoenas on both were being dropped in their entirety.

What has not been determined yet is whether or not the TSA is going to repair or replace Steve’s MacBook which they confiscated earlier in the week in their quest to find “the truth.”

Apparently the machine’s hard drive is toast. And of course, everything that was on it. I only hope Steve had backed up all his photographs recently.

Ugh.

Thank you to whomever it was at the TSA who did the right thing — finally — and dropped the subpoenas.