Mayor John Hickenlooper has insisted it will be business as usual in downtown Denver during the Democratic National Convention this August, when an estimated 50,000 people will be simmering in the hot sun and the even hotter media spotlight.

"Please know that our intention is to minimize any impacts on roadways, businesses and residences," Hizzoner wrote in an open letter to his constituents a few weeks ago, addressing concerns about security, traffic and road closures. "City offices and facilities will of course be open and operational during the Convention week, and we do not anticipate any interruptions to City services."

Well, almost no interruptions: It turns out that Denver County Court won't be calling any juries or holding any jury trials during the week. "We thought we should limit our activities," says presiding judge Andrew S. Armatas. "We are not docketing any cases in which a police officer would be a witness, since most will be working the DNC."

Denver District Court will also be affected, since sheriff's deputies won't be available to transport prisoners; the deputies, too, will be on DNC duty.

But rest assured that if any protesters are arrested at the DNC, Denver's courts will be open and ready.

Straighten up and fly right: It's hard to feel sorry for United Airlines. While the company isn't responsible for rising fuel prices and the general state of the airline industry, United hasn't done much to ingratiate itself to customers — especially here in Denver, where the airline controls more than a third of the market. Charging $15 to check a bag and $25 for two — which United will start doing later this summer — is just the most recent insult.

It's easier to feel sorry for United's employees (most of them, anyway). On Monday, the company announced it would lay off 1,000 pilots. The bad news came just weeks after United said it would mothball its discount subsidiary, Ted, and lay off 1,600 other workers. But these layoffs weren't what was bothering a United pilot who told passengers he was "too upset" to fly from Salt Lake City to Denver last weekend.

No, it was a dispute involving pilot hats and the pilots' union, according to an account in the Salt Lake Tribune. Passengers were understandably concerned.

It looks like it's going to be a long, hot summer in the Friendly Skies.

But United isn't the only airline giving flyers fits. American, US Airways, even Denver-based Frontier are scaling back, charging more and generally making it difficult to sit back, relax and enjoy our summer vacations. Eight years ago, Westword held a contest asking people to describe how United had ruined their summer vacations. It's high time we do so again — but this round, we're expanding our target to the entire airline industry.

Have a complaint? A horror story? Still trying to reclaim lost baggage, missing vouchers or lost dignity? If so, e-mail us at [email protected]. To read a horror story from one of Westword's own, log on to

Gas pains: Speaking of baggage, Loews Hotels now offers customers $15 off their bill when they show a receipt from United, American or any other airline that charges fees to check bags. According to marketing director Cindy Lew, a couple of customers have taken the hotel up on its Baggage Buyback Program. "It was a very timely thing," she says.

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