Friday, August 8, 2008

Oh pul-leez, American Airlines. "Co-payments?"

Maybe American Airlines thinks its customers won't notice the new fees if it calls them co-payments. Maybe they think they can hitch a ride on our terminally ill health care system where most of us are already making co-payments up the wazoo. Hmmm. The terminally ill air transport system merging with the terminally ill health care system. Actually it makes as much sense as merging two airlines (not mentioning any names) who both have losses in the multiple billions of dollars.

Oh, I mis-spoke. Terminally ill in the air transport business means "I'm sick of sitting in this airport terminal for 14 hours."

Anyway, the "co-payments" are part of AAdvantage, American's frequent flyer program, where they will now hold you up for $100 cold hard cash in addition to 30,000 miles for a round trip upgrade from a discounted coach ticket. Non-refundable, of course. Upgrade to what, you ask? They don't say. I am assuming the upgrade is from discounted coach to full coach. Is discounted coach the same as economy-class? Economy-class remains "free" with 25,000 miles for advance bookings and 50,000 miles for last-minute bookings. All of this makes my head hurt. And I'm not even attempting to interpret AAdvantage rules for overseas travel. Trust me, it will give you a migraine.

This, in a week already beset with other disturbing affairs of the air. Take, for example, the court appearance of Victoria Osteen, co-pastor with her husband Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church; one of the fastest growing and largest megachurches in the nation where she preaches about love and acceptance before about 40,000 parishioners every Sunday . It seems that Ms. Osteen threw a hissy fit on a Continental Airlines flight and charged toward the cockpit on a flight from Houston to Vail, Colo. in December, 2005. She is being sued by flight attendant Sharon Brown, who contends that Ms. Osteen assaulted her. It seems Ms. Osteen was upset about some liquid, about the size of a quarter, on the armrest of her first class seat. She was not loving or accepting of the flight attendants handling of the situation and was escorted off the airplane with her husband and two children and later paid a $3,000 fine. It should be noted here that witnesses said Joel Osteen tried to resolve the situation by getting between his wife and Miss Brown and offering to clean up the spill himself. Miss Brown is in court looking for an apology. Oh, and 10% of Ms. Osteen's net worth as compensation.

It's enough to make M&M's break out of their shells. What? Oh, no. Really? They didn't!

Oh yes. Mars Snackfood, makers of M&M's, is introducing M&M's Premiums; a fatter, less uniform version of the traditional candies. Most radically, these M&M's have no candy shell. What? Chocolate will come off on your hands? Good grief - we'll need a re-education program. They will come in flavors, yet. Mint chocolate, mocha, triple chocolate, raspberry almond and chocolate almond - sold in a 6oz package for $3.99. Not lazy, like their big brothers, they will not recline in a flat plastic bag on the shelf but will sit in an upright cardboard box with a clear window that shows off the candy. I think this is called "gentrification."

So. . .are M&M's Premiums an upgrade from plain old M&M's? There must be rules about this. Maybe if we buy them "in advance" they'll be cheaper? Say, $2.99? It will take an airline marketing department to figure this out. And for heaven's sake (pun intended) don't spill "uncoated" M&M's on your first class airplane seat. It could drain the love and acceptance right out of the next occupant.


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