THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2019 --
The cosmic and karmic convergence this weekend of the Kentucky Derby, Star Wars Day, free comic book day, Cinco de Mayo and the premiere of a silly rom-com pairing the sublime Charlize Theron with a fuzzy schlub who looks just like me 30 years ago is overwhelming. So maybe let's just get to the news from the road ...
A MOVEABLE FEAST. OKAY, NOT FEAST. BUT, YOU KNOW, BETTER THAN BEFORE.
HMSHost, the food service giant that operates dining and beverage outlets at more than 120 airports around the world, has declared May Airport Restaurant Month. It is incredibly self-serving, of course. And, naturally, there is the financial angle. HMSHost created a Web site
to peddle special meals it'll try to sell you at its airport restaurants in May. But I'm gonna cut HMSHost a break because, let's be honest, one of the only things that has improved on the road in recent years is airport dining. Would I go out of my way to eat at an airport? Of course not. But the prospect doesn't fill me with dread, which was SOP for business travelers a couple decades ago. So if the company that has helped drive one of the rare improvements in our lives on the road wants to promote and celebrate a little, who am I to rain on its culinary parade?
MAYBE THIS WASN'T THE BEST ITEM TO PLACE NEXT ...
I don't mean to be culturally insensitive, so I accept that this isn't the best placement of news items. However, you should be aware that Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, begins on Monday evening. The extended period of fasting, sexual abstinence and prayer is not only a holy time, but also a stressful one for about a quarter of the world's population. Adherents must fast from sun up to sundown and that also includes abstaining from all beverages. As sundown approaches, Muslims rush to celebrate the breaking of the fast. Tempers are short as entire societies cope with a month of no food, no beverages, no sex and mad-dash rushes to the evening meal. Needless to say, if you're in a country or community where the Muslim population is high, respect the solemnity of Ramadan. Don't drink or eat in public during fasting hours. Understand the evening social rituals, too. Restaurants open shortly before sundown. Diners, famished from fasting all day, arrive and wait at their tables until the call from the mosques, which means eating can begin.
HOW DO YOU SAY DÉJÀ VU IN ITALIAN? (IT'S DÉJÀ VU, WHICH IS THE POINT.)
Alitalia, nominally still the flag carrier of Italy, has made money exactly one year in its 72-year history. Its original iteration collapsed a decade ago and was replaced in 2009 by a "new" Alitalia. Alitalia II essentially disappeared in a 2015 deal that created a third Alitalia 49 percent owned by Etihad. More modern and a bit more efficient than its predecessors, Alitalia III nevertheless continued to gush cash, exhausting the patience and invested capital of its functional masters, the Al Nahyan Family, rulers of Abu Dhabi. Two years ago today, Alitalia III went into administration, the European version of bankruptcy. A succession of Italian governments--there are always
a succession of Italian governments--has refused to let Alitalia die, however. The current Italian authorities, a weird alliance of populist parties, has turned the mess over to the state railroad company and asked it to save Alitalia. Possible suitors--Lufthansa, EasyJet, the Italian Post Office, even Delta Air Lines--have come and gone and may or may not be involved in any Alitalia IV. But never think things aren't moving. The deadline for restructuring bids was April 30. There apparently weren't any formal bids. So the Italian government took firm action--and ignored the deadline. Because Italy ...
LYING LIARS AND THE FLYING LIES THEY TELL
As a matter of editorial policy, I don't link to press releases at JoeSentMe.com. But you must read the doozey concocted this week by Delta Air Lines
. Its putative purpose is to announce Delta's decision to launch nonstop flights between New York's Kennedy Airport and Mumbai, India. Other than launch date (December 22), aircraft (Boeing 777-200LR), configuration (business, premium economy, Comfort+, coach) and schedule (red-eyes in both directions), everything else Delta says is quite literally a lie. I won't rehash Delta's vicious and extended campaign against Middle East carriers here, but suffice it to say that Delta has used every trick in the airline book--racial smears, economic falsehoods, jingoism and, as I say, flat-out lies--to play victim. It is, in a word, bullshit--and a pure distillation of everything evil that U.S. airlines do.