Joe's Travel Newsstand
Food For (In-Flight) Thought
March 2, 2017 -- Cathay Pacific, the well-regarded carrier based in Hong Kong, this week introduced a beer it claimed is specifically brewed for the in-flight environment. That gave publications such as The New York Times free rein to recycle the same-old, same-old babble about taste buds, airline atmosphere and our depressed ability to be discerning about in-flight food and drink. A much smarter take comes from Brian Sumers, who spent time with F&B executives at Delta and Air Canada. Sumers learns airlines can trick us with everything from lemon slices to better china and flatware. If any of this makes you actually want to eat in-flight food, Conde Nast Traveler reports that coach passengers on some international carriers can purchase business class meals. Didn't know that ...

Forget Hell. Chicago Isn't Freezing Over, Either.
Albert Hammond posited that It Never Rains in Southern California. Of course, the recent torrential rains after years of drought make that a confusing bit of lyrical meteorology. Which is a slightly loopy way of pointing out that Chicago has had its first essentially snow-free start to a year since weather geeks have been keeping records. WGN-TV calls it a "snow drought" and notes that there has never been a January and February without snow cover in the 133 years of Windy City records. Forty inches of snow is a normal Chicago winter, adds NBC News. The last measurable snow in the city fell on Christmas Day and there was a six-day stretch in February when temperatures were above 65 degrees.

They'll Always Be a Heathrow ... Unfortunately
I could probably do a Heathrow-is-awful section every week, but let's start with this. London's primary airport had an all-too-common incident this week: a British Airways flight to San Francisco was scrapped. The cause of the cancellation was unique, though. A mouse was found on board, which, I guess, is better than snakes on a plane. Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales' "green advisor" apparently sold out to Heathrow. After a decade of high-profile opposition to Heathrow's long-planned third runway, 56-year-old Tony Juniper has been surreptitiously aiding Heathrow for a hefty fee. He's being called "the Neville Chamberlain of corporate social responsibility," which is a pretty nasty insult in the United Kingdom. And just in case you think Heathrow is all about mice and mealy-mouthed politicians, consider this: Britain's The Sun newspaper says Heathrow's purple-suited "passenger ambassadors" are all about the money. Specifically, the money they can convince passengers to spend at Heathrow shops while purportedly being there to aid flummoxed flyers.

President Trump Runs the Country Like His Airline
The name Bruce Nobles may not ring a bell, but he's been around the airline business for a long time. He's run Air Jamaica and Hawaiian Airlines and held executive posts at American, Continental, Republic and Pan Am. In fact, he was running the Pan Am Shuttle connecting New York, Boston and Washington when Donald Trump hired him back in 1988 to run the Trump Shuttle. Nobles was unceremoniously dumped when he couldn't make lemonade from the old Eastern Shuttle, the huge and overpriced lemon Trump purchased. Politico caught up with Nobles this week and asked him how he thought President Trump was doing. His answer? Trump is running the country "consistent with the behavior I saw 30 years ago." He didn't mean that as a compliment, by the way. If you want a deep dive on the chaos, dysfunction and vanity that marked Trump's brief airline run--he eventually surrendered the Shuttle to his lenders--check out Barbara Peterson's dissection of Trump Air. And you can review my own blow-by-blow of Trump's checkered travel career from a year ago this week, when candidate Trump emerged as the GOP frontrunner.

Tight Connections ...
Airlines serving Beijing Capital Airport worry about a lack of slots to start new routes, but The Wall Street Journal reports on the secondary airports in China. They aren't doing anywhere near as well. ... The oldest flight attendant still working in Britain, 65-year old Charmaine McCall-Hagan, has retired. She was working for Loganair, but once patrolled the aisles for British Airways. Octogenarian Bette Nash, profiled this month in AARP The Magazine, still works for American Airlines. ... One of the carriers justifiably in the running for the title Worst Airline in the World is in the news again. And not in a good way. Again. Pakistan International first denied and then begrudgingly admitted that a flight in January operated with seven passengers standing in the aisles. The 409-person Boeing 777 flew with 416 people between Karachi and Medina, Saudi Arabia. -- Joe Brancatelli

This column is Copyright 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. is Copyright 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. 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.