[beginning of recording]
Doug Parker [USAirways]: ..."and after that, all I remember is waking up in Central Park the next morning with a raging hangover and wearing only a leather gimp suit."
[uproarious laughter, multiple voices]
Gerard Arpey [American]: "Ol' Bob was quite the prankster. Between that night, the time he tied Lorenzo's shoelaces together, and the B-scale, we really miss him over at American."
Parker: "Yeah, we had some good times. Hey Jeff, you gonna bogart that bottle of Remy? Pass it down!"
Jeff Smisek [Continental]: "Um, you already have my fifth of Blue Label."
Parker: "Drank it all!" [sound of shattering glass]
Smisek: "You almost hit me with that, you crazy drunkard! Now who's going to clean up this mess?"
[sound of door opening]
Richard Anderson [Delta]: [calling] "Oh Glen! Come here for a moment and do bring a broom, won't you?"
Glen Hauenstein [Delta]: "Right away, sir."
Smisek: "You gotta be kidding me. You couldn't just bring your mistress like everyone else, Rich?"
Anderson: "I've found Glen to be absolutely indispensable. I don't go anywhere without him."
Glenn Tilton [United]: [shouting suddenly] "Consolidation is our salvation!"
Smisek: [groans] "Oh jeeze. Don't start up with that consolidation crap again, Tilton. Seriously, give it a rest, man!"
Anderson: "Mr. Tilton isn't entirely wrong, you know."
Smisek: "Don't encourage him, Rich. And for what it's worth, your merger has really kinda turned you into a smarmy prick. Not that you weren't before."
Anderson: "Don't be that way, Jeffery, jealousy doesn't become you. Nothing's stopping you from merging Continental."
Smisek: [laughs] "Oh, exactly which one of these winners do you propose I merge with?"
Tilton: "Pick me, pick me!"
Smisek: "Not freaking likely. You couldn't even get USAirways to merge with you. No offense, Dougie."
Parker: "Naw, it's okay man. I just wish I could go back to the happy days of running America West and driving around Phoenix blitzed out of my skull." [sighs]
[sound of door opening]
Hauenstein: "Your broom, sir. Oh, hi Jeff."
Anderson: "Be a good man and sweep up the broken glass, won't you Glen?"
Smisek: "Good Lord. You left me for this schmuck, Glen? I never treated you like that."
[awkward pause, sound of glass being swept]
Tilton: [shouting] "Consolidation will finally enable capacity discipline!"
Arpey: "Of course, the death of United would do the same thing."
Parker: "Or USAirways. I don't really care anymore." [sobs quietly]
Smisek: "It really pains me to see you like this, Dougie. Here, have a nice glass of cognac."
Hauenstein: "If that's all, sir, I ought to be going. Oh, hello there, Mr. LaHood. Come on on."
Ray LaHood [US Secretary of Transportation]: "Hiya, Fellas! How's the airline biz?"
Anderson: [groans] "Dear heavens, who invited this vile man to our function?"
Arpey: "Don't be rude, Richard. Mr. LaHood is here on my invitation. Glad you could make it, Ray!"
LaHood: "Thanks a bunch, Jerry! Always wanted to come on one of these junkets."
Anderson: "Do close the door, you're letting the steam out."
[sound of door closing]
Tilton: [shouting] "Consolidation will finally raise yields to profitable levels!"
LaHood: "Whoa! Hiya Glenn, you surprised me! Good to see you though, buddy. You're dead on about the yield stuff."
Anderson: "You know what else would help push yields to profitable levels? Letting the LaGuardia/National slot swap between Delta and USAirways go through."
Parker: [slurred] "Yeah! What he said!"
LaHood: "Now, now, fellas. We're perfectly happy to let your little swap go through. We just want to confiscate a quarter of the slots and redistribute them the carriers of our choosing to finally bring some competition to two of the most under-served airports in the country. Back in Chicago, we call that the price of doing business!"
Anderson: "How does one even respond to that?"
Arpey: "Sound like a reasonable position to me, Ray."
[sound of door opening]
Anderson: "Why, what a pleasant surprise, William! Come, come, I've saved you a spot next to me!"
Arpey: "Bill! I've been looking all over for you! Come on in, I have an idea to bounce off of you!"
Anderson: "No, No, No! Don't listen to him, William, at least not until you've heard me out."
Arpey: "Bill can listen to whoever he darn well pleases, you're not his boss just yet!"
Bill Ayers [Alaska]: "Oh jeeze. Um, can you guys put your towels back on, or at least sit back down or something?"
Anderson: "Oh dear, my apologies. I just got a little careless in my great excitement over seeing you!"
Ayers: "Uh, yeah, I noticed. Um, I just remembered...I forgot something...uh, in my room...sooo...."
[sound of door slamming shut]
Smisek: "That was awkward."
Tilton: [shouting] "Without consolidation our industry is doomed to an endless cycle of boom and bust!"
Smisek: "You're really starting to get on my nerves, Tilton. It's pretty cold outside in the snowbank. I'm just saying."
Gary Kelly [Southwest]: "Howdy, ya'll!"
[mumbled greetings; door closes]
Kelly: "I just saw the darndest thing. Bill Ayers from Alaska was running the other way, barefoot and half-naked in the snow!"
[Parker laughs hysterically]
Arpey: "How are you enjoying St. Moritz, Mr. Kelly?"
Kelly: "Well, it ain't too bad I suppose. Kinda purty here. Ain't much like Texas, though, that's for sure!"
Anderson: "Oh dear, where to begin?"
Kelly: "I had a bit o trouble finding a McDonalds, with all the winding streets and all. And when I found it, those crazy buggers wouldn't even take my dollars!"
Anderson: "Who could've anticipated that the Swiss might prefer to be paid in their own currency?"
Kelly: "So I went to a bank - there were five within a half-block - and traded my greenbacks for this funny-colored money. Problem is, it took twenty bucks worth to buy a Big Mac and a Coke!"
Arpey: "Switzerland is an expensive country on an expensive continent."
Kelly: "It got me thinkin', though. If Europe is so rich and dandy, and if their money buys so many dollars, why don't we price our tickets in their money?"
Arpey: "We do, for tickets originating in Europe."
Kelly: "Well that's just downright smart. In fact, come to think of it, Southwest really oughtta fly here."
[all gasp in alarm]
Anderson: "Honestly, Mr Kelly, Southwest's structure doesn't lend itself very well to international operations. Your aircraft are too small to fly across the Atlantic and your network is too dispersed to feed widebodies."
Kelly: "Well darn it, I need to fix that somehow."
Tilton: [shouting] "Consolidation is the answer to all our problems!"
Kelly: "Glenn, you ol' sly dog, you're a genius! United has the jumbos and the hubs to bring the Southwest Effect to the rest of the world!"
Smisek: "What!? No, no, no, no, no!"
Kelly: "Whaddaya say, pardner? Southwest and United?"
Tilton: "I'll sign this very minute!"
Smisek: "Somebody tell me this is a bad dream!"
Anderson: "Let's not be hasty, do remember any such deal will require DOT and DOJ approval, which seems unlikely."
LaHood: "Actually, Mr. Tilton has shown himself to be very, erm, flexible. I'm sure we can work something out."
Smisek: "No, stop! I'll do it! I'll merge Continental and United!"
Parker: [burps] "Are you drunk out of your mind or what, man?"
Smisek: [moans] "What choice do I have!?"
LaHood: "It looks like you have two offers, Mr. Tilton. Who will it be?"
Tilton: "I pick Southwest!"
Kelly: "You got yerself a deal!"
Tilton: "We'll name the merged airline United to retain its stellar reputation for customer service, and replace all those godawful poop brown 737s with super-efficient outsourced RJs, and I get to be co-CEO!"
Kelly: "Are you insane? You already ran one airline into the ground, pardner, I'll be whooped if you're gonna ruin mine too!"
Anderson: "Your move, Jeffery."
Smisek: "OK Glenn, here's the deal. We take the United name but keep the Continental paint. My niece is good with computers, she should be able to photoshop United onto the side of a Continental 787 or something. No more RJs but we'll keep the ones you have. I'll run the airline, but we'll give you a big bonus and an important-sounding title. How does 'Non-Executive Chairman' sound?"
Tilton: "Do I still get to come to these IATA parties?"
Smisek: "Of course! Even Doug Steenland still tags along. Tell him, Richard."
Anderson: "Yes, he's around here somewhere. Last I heard, he was hot-tubbing with the Swiss beach volleyball team. The women's team, I think."
Tilton: "It's a deal!"
Smisek: "Dave! What are you doing here? I thought you were out of the industry!"
David Neeleman [former jetBlue]: "I'm back, baby! I'm starting up a hot new airline, and I have some great new ideas that have never been tried before! We're going to base it at one of the busiest airports in the US, where we can cherry-pick the most profitable routes. And we'll fly brand-new airplanes with spiffy leather seats and entertainment systems. We'll employ young, attractive crewmembers, all at starting pay. We'll offer the cheapest tickets, and everyone will love us!"
Arpey: "Not to burst your bubble, Dave, but I foresee real problems raising venture capital in this economy."
Tilton: "I want in! I have a big bonus check on the way!"
Smisek: "Well, there's also the small matter of procuring slots. All the popular airports are at capacity."
Parker: "I'll sell you our LaGuardia operation for a case of Jack!"
Anderson: "Doug, the DOT won't let you sell those slots, remember?"
LaHood: "No, we won't let him sell to Delta. A new entrant, we'd have no problem with."
Neeleman: "We're in business, baby!"
Smisek: "God help us all. What are you going to call it?"
Neeleman: "I was thinking something with people in the name, and something fast-sounding. What do you think of People Express?"
[end of recording]