And now ladies and gentlemen, the awards no one wants to win… welcome to the Gongs in Travel (Gits), according to regular BBT columnist Amon Cohen
A new year dawns, prompting the annual ritual of discovering whether I can still squeeze into the dinner suit purchased years ago from, appropriately, the Age Concern charity shop in Wincanton. After all, I want to look my most glamorous as the winners are revealed at the Business Travel Awards on Monday, 22 January.
If, however, you can’t wait that long to get your next awards fix, worry not. Pour yourself a stiff one, settle back and enjoy, right here, right now, the According to Amon Gongs in Travel, aka The Gits.
Before I start, a note on methodology: there isn’t one. The Gits are opaque and unfair, and based entirely on what’s irking me the day I write them – but I do try to find something to offend everybody.
The Jam on the Cohen Family Table Award for services to business travel journalism
(Sponsor: Bonne Maman)
Runner-up: General Data Protection Regulation
Winner: British Airways Data privacy is, of course, frightfully important, but I do sometimes wonder if the G in GDPR stands for ‘gravy train’ and the whole thing wasn’t dreamed up by a few lawyers in Brussels one boozy lunchtime to keep them gainfully occupied for years to come. Anyway, I’ve trousered numerous fees for explaining what it all means, so I’m completely in favour.
The winner is BA for not announcing in one go all the TMCs it was giving GDS surcharge waivers to. Instead, journos got to write essentially the same story every day for a fortnight as the names dribbled out. Trebles all round!
The Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Cup for the longest job title in travel
Winner: Ilia Kostov, Amadeus
As a freelance hack paid by the word, I fully intend to quote the tech giant’s senior vice-president and general manager, global accounts and Americas business travel agencies, as often as humanly possible in 2018…
Most unfortunate advertising slogan of any travel company
Winner: Come Fly the Friendly Skies, United Airlines
After United passenger Dr David Dao got a good onboard working over in April, enduring several injuries and concussion in the process, the US carrier’s most celebrated tagline received similar treatment on social media. Wags thoroughly enjoyed suggesting alternatives United might like to adopt, my personal favourite being: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have now reached bruising altitude.”
The Genghis Khan Golden Plate for the hotel brand owner doing his utmost to destroy the business travel industry
Winner: Donald Trump
The new President of the United States gave it a good go in 2017, including refusing to admit passport holders from countries he doesn’t like, imposing a pointless cabin ban on personal electronic devices from some airports but not others, and making anyone think long and hard before booking a flight to the Korean peninsula. Passenger demand growth for North America is now half the rate of Europe, but there’s way more mindless damage to be done yet. Must try harder, Donald!
The Panadol Medal for greatest services rendered to headache relief manufacturers
Winner: The European Banking Authority’s Regulatory Technical Standards governing Strong Customer Authentication Requirements of the Revised Payment Services Directive
Even saying it, let alone understanding what it meant for corporate payments, was sufficient to make me draw the curtains and sob quietly.
The Dr Martens Lifetime Achievement Award for putting both size tens well and truly in it while on official overseas business
Winner: HRH the Duke of Edinburgh
After nearly seven decades of tireless devotion to insulting Johnny Foreigner in every corner of the planet, Prince Philip retired in 2017 – not because he got old, but because, in foreign secretary Boris Johnson, he finally found a worthy successor.
Banana Skins Cup for Biggest Transport Cock-up of the Year
Winner: Berlin Brandenburg International Airport
BER has scooped this category so many times it deserves a lifetime achievement, or rather non-achievement, award, too. The airport was supposed to open in October 2011, but latest estimates push the date back, yet again, to late 2019. The Germans have many jokes about this white elephant, not one of them remotely funny.