Up Front With Martin B. Deutsch



November 1, 1984 -- It seems that you run into frequent flyers almost everywhere these days, including between the covers of this magazine. Those who write with the most authority about travel and aviation are the ones who are endowed (or cursed) with the restlessness and curiosity that keeps them on the move, corporeally and mentally. Let me tell you about two of our frequent flying writers who’ve made particularly significant contributions to this magazine.

It’s hard to say who’s brought more to the party, Frequent Flyer magazine or David Martindale, our aviation specialist. Whatever the tally sheet would show, the relationship’s been mutually beneficial—we’ve grown together in the ratings. Martindale’s copy has appeared in every issue of Frequent Flyer since we made out debut in September 1980, and this month he’s holding forth on the topic of the day, airport congestion. His focus in this article is on our crowded runways; last month his sharp eye was on air traffic control delays. "The two pieces are the flip side of the same coin," Martindale told me. "One’s in the air, the others on the ground."

He’s already working on major assigned features for 1985, including one on the troubling questions of the future of interlining. Martindale’s also looking into airline tickets and how they will be marketed in the future. Travel agents are now involved in 75 percent of the transactions and Martindale believes they will continue to handle the bulk of the bookings, but pressures from other sources will mount, even concierges and supermarkets.

At 37, Martindale has lived the last eight years in Washington, DC, although he was born and raised in Chicago. He studied at the University of Illinois, where he majored in journalism, but took a break to work for the airlines and never went back to school. The record will show that he spent four years as a gate agent for American Airlines at O’Hare; moved to Hawaii for three years of "doing odds and ends," such as waiting on tables; then returned to Chicago to resume his career.

His first break as a freelance writer came in 1976, when Chicago magazine published a Martindale article on the brewing conflicts between FAA and the air traffic controllers at O’Hare, that was five years before the PATCO strike. So although it wasn’t planned that way ("I conceived of myself as a writer in broader terms"), he got his foot in the door with aviation. He moved to the nation’s capital, but did not come to the decision to specialize full-time in aviation until 1980, when he began to write for Frequent Flyer.

Martindale’s written two books: How to be a Freelance Writer, 1983, Crown, now also a Bantam paperback; and Earth Shelters, in 1981, E.P. Dutton. His hobbies are oriented to the outdoors; bicycling, photography and airplanes. "My dad was into railroads, I’m into planes."

Joe Brancatelli, who reports on teleconferencing in this issue, is a rolling stone at age 31 who says he "wouldn’t recommend the freelance life to anyone." Despite this caveat he seems to be mastering the air and enjoying it to boot. When he flew out to Honolulu earlier in the year to research the local business climate after twenty-five years of statehood, he conducted sixty-five interviews in eight days. "If it moved I interviewed it, including some palm trees I caught swaying in the wind."

Business is Brancatelli’s true focus, writing twenty-five to thirty articles a year on subjects he likes (not necessarily travel), His freelance writing is only the one faces of his activities; he’s also been a publication consultant for the last six years. He’s helped start up or redesign some thirty publications under the name of Brancatelli Editorial Services. "The world is full of people who want to be in publishing. They’ve made a lot of money in other fields but they don’t know how to get into magazines…That’s where I come in…" Among others, he’s consulted for Savvy.

Born in Brooklyn, he’s living there again after defecting to Manhattan long enough to earn degrees in journalism and computers at New York University. He was an intern at United Press International at NYU, stayed on after graduation, moved on to local newspapers in New Jersey, the various other publications including The Village Voice and the Institutional Investor. In 1978 he moved to the short-lived New York Trib.

Early in 1983, Brancatelli got a call from Frequent Flyer, whose editors had noticed his work in other magazines. Brancatelli says he "follows Martindale…He gets the cream on the flight stuff, I get the rest." It’s a reality he seems to savor.

Brancatelli is also hooked on bicycles, the beach, and he describes himself as a "failed" basketball player. He’s also into music of all kinds and into the single life. Why? "I’m on the road too much, I am your real frequent flyer."

This column originally appeared in Frequent Flyer magazine.

Copyright © 1991-2007 by Martin B. Deutsch. All rights reserved.