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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Larry's gone

We were in the custody of Continental Airlines for a day recently, and we noticed that they have discontinued the video greeting at the start of the flight from the airline's CEO. This custom goes back a couple of chief execs, at least. The first one I remember was Gordon Bethune, a salty southern guy who seemed as though he could fix and fly the plane himself. Then he was replaced by Larry Kellner, a guy who looked like a wimpy accountant and croaked out his speech as though he had marbles in his cheeks.

On the new 737 that I was carted around on the other day, the video screen is a tiny thing right in front of your nose, on the back of the seat in front of you. They want you to swipe your credit card and pay 6 or 7 bucks to watch Direct TV. We quickly hit the button to blacken the screen and take a nap, but we thought for sure we'd get a mumbly minute or two from old Larry.

Surprisingly, it didn't happen.

It turns out Larry has moved on -- "returned to private equity." I'm not sure if that means being put out to stud or packed off to the glue factory, but he's out like kraut. Jeff Smisek, the new boss, is an ex-lawyer (always a little scary) who either doesn't need the glory of saying "Welcome aboard" or would rather have more Direct TV dough.

Of course, if Continental merges with United Airlines as planned, all manner of head-rolling is bound to ensue. Maybe Jeff doesn't want us to see his face before the corporate executioner offers him a last cigarette.

Anyway, today we're moving in a different way -- on the Acela between New York and D.C.:

I don't think Gatsby Wyden's on board. It's a gorgeous day, and I'm sure he's out on the island with the inlaws and the kids, skimming krugerrands across the sound.

Comments (7)

skimming krugerrands across the sound.



Not Bass fishing . . . he's already caught his limit.

I don't miss Kellner's lame and insincere video message on board, but I do miss some of the amenities that Continental has withdrawn, such as decent meals and a decent shot at a seat in the exit row on check-in. Even so, it has a better fleet and happier employees than most airlines now, and the service between Portland and Newark is one of the best things we have going.

I'm still here....

Gordon's spots were always a hoot. He made you feel that you were in the hands of people who knew what they were doing. Larry? The exact opposite.

I don't care what crusty old CEO they roll out, they've got nothing on the flight attendant who does Delta's safety video.


Gordon COULD actually fly the plane, and very probably could fix it as well. Guys like him are few and far between at the senior management level of the airline industry.

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