Johnny Jet's Travel Blog

Travel blog featuring best travel sites, travel deals, travel guides, effective travel tips, daily stories with up-to-date travel information, travel pictures, travel webcams. For more, visit my travel portal, www.johnnyjet.com.

Friday, October 30, 2009

ATTN: Delta Passengers Flying on Halloween!


Here’s a treat: On October 31, Gogo Inflight Internet will be free on all Gogo-equipped Delta flights and for each free session that day, Aircell will donate $1 to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, up to $10,000. Additionally, all Gogo proceeds from the Pink Plane in the month of October will be donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Customers can help support the Foundation’s mission to achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime by accessing Gogo on their Gogo-equipped Delta flight this Saturday for free using the code GOPINK.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

LAX-JFK On United



I just landed in New York after taking United Airlines’ flight 22 from LAX. We took off at 9am and arrived a few minutes early at 4:50pm. Woo hoo!

UPSELLING
When I checked in online the day before to print my boarding pass, United tried upselling me on accruing miles even though I was using miles to begin with! It would have been enticing if they counted towards elite status but I don’t think they did. Here’s the screenshot. The offer was this: For $74, they would give me 2,475 award miles. For $149 they would deposit 4,950 award miles into my account.

VOLUNTEER TIP
The next screen was the option to be put on the volunteer list in case United oversold the flight. I chose yes to see how much they would give me but they didn’t need any volunteers in the end. Remember: If you volunteer your seat, always take cash vouchers and not a free roundtrip coupon since the latter has all kinds of restrictions.

LAX HIGHLIGHT
On the way to the gate, Tia Carerra (from Wayne’s World) walked by me wearing oversized sunglasses. If she hadn’t been wearing the sunglasses, I probably wouldn’t have noticed her. Not very incognito Tia … or maybe she didn’t want to be. Either way, she sure is purty.

TRICK OR TREAT?
As always, I brought chocolates for the flight attendants but right from the get-go I got the vibe they weren’t very friendly … and they weren’t. So I’ll give them to the next crew or eat them myself.

LESSON LEARNED
Don’t drink a lot of liquid before getting on the plane. I made the mistake of having two bottles of water and when we were rolling down the runway … and guess who got the urge? Worse, the pilots didn’t turn off the seatbelt sign for 53 minutes. Yes, I counted since I thought I was going to pop. Worse still, the flight attendants were adamant on passengers staying in their seats, made numerous announcements and shooed people from the aisles.

NO WI-FI
There was no Wi-Fi on the plane even though United advertises they have it on their P.S. Service (LAX/SFO to JFK) and there were even GoGo Internet instruction cards in each seatback advertising the service. Needless to say, this got me pretty excited when we boarded. However, when the ding went off (at 10,000 feet), there was no signal and when I asked the flight attendant, she said that this plane doesn’t have wireless access. She said that only three planes have it so far.

OVERALL
Overall, the flight was bumpy most of the way and it was packed. Flight time was four hours and 56 minutes and there were a ton of foreigners (mostly Chinese) who didn’t speak English so it was funny to see them react to the flight attendants when they tried using the loo in turbulence. On the P.S. service, United Airlines has five extra inches of legroom in economy, which still felt tight but it was key in allowing me to work on my laptop and pass the time.

TIP
United Airlines does sell food on board so if you don’t bring your own, be sure to bring a credit or debit card since they don’t take cash. I had a yogurt parfait for $5 and it hit the spot.

Go Yankees!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

UNITED RETIRES ITS 737


Forty years ago, United landed their first 737. Tonight, they landed their last. The appropriately numbered United Flight 737 took off from LAX destined for San Francisco International and I was there for the festivities.

After securing a gate pass and going through the long security line, I found myself at LAX’s gate 70B. There they had a long table set up against the window with some soft drinks and cookies, mixed in between some old 737 photos. The gate was crowded, filled mostly with airplane dorks, including my buddy Brett Snyder from CrankyFlier.com.

Everyone (including the pilots) was taking pictures inside and out of the last 737 United would fly. They captured the departure board and the information screens. Some lucky United employees who were granted runway access, got some memorable shots of themselves sitting on the engine or next to the wing with their colleagues.

When it was time to board, another pilot handed out 737 trading cards and a number of United employees lined the area and clapped for the First Class passengers, as they headed for the jetway.

In the past, most United frequent flyers (myself included) did everything we could not to fly on the “Guppy.” Why? Because there wasn’t as much room (legroom, overhead compartments) as on the 747, 767, 757 or on the Airbuses. But we found ourselves aboard it often because the 737 was United’s workhorse.

United is retiring the 737 because it’s expensive to operate (fuel and maintenance). According to USAToday, “United Airlines President John Tague told employees in a memo that getting rid of the 737 would ‘dramatically simplify our fleet and reduce our maintenance liability, significantly cutting the future investment required to maintain a modern fleet at United Airlines.’”

I didn’t fly up the coast, which most passengers just did for the nostalgic ride but you can get the play-by-play on CrankyFlier.com. Instead, I went home, ordered takeout and watched my beloved Yankees lose game one of the World Series.

This should give you some sense of the significance of the 737: I got to talking with a flight attendant who used his frequent flyer miles to take the last flight because he didn’t want to take the chance of not getting on flying standby (which would have been free for him) or forking out the $200 plus for the one-way flight.

It’s ironic that as United gets rid of their last 737, Southwest Airlines continues to order new ones. Southwest has almost 500 now and their whole fleet is comprised of only 737s. And guess what? Southwest is also one of the few airlines in the United States that’s actually making money.

FEATURED STORY: EL AL to Israel

When I was first invited to visit Israel, I admit I had many preconceived notions, fears and questions – perhaps many of the same ones that first-time visitors to Israel would have. But my first question was: What’s it like to fly El Al? If you’re interested, here’s a play-by-play:
http://www.johnnyjet.com/folder/archive/WheresJohnny102820095.html

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: AwardWallet.com


AwardWallet.com
Many of us seem to be obsessed with our frequent flyer miles. I really used to be but luckily, I've been able to control my addiction to finding out just how many miles I've accrued. But it really irks me to see statistics like this one: In 2007 alone, 39 billion miles expired from frequent flyer accounts. Come on, people! If you're not going to use your miles, consider treating a friend or relative to a free trip or donate your miles to a charity. It takes a long time (and a lot of money) to accumulate a significant number of miles, so don't let them go to waste.

Hopefully AwardWallet.com can help you stay on top of this. The site is designed to help travelers keep track of their award program balances. Simply provide your account numbers and log-in information and they'll keep track of all your frequent flyer miles, club points and other reward programs (airlines, hotels, car rentals, train travel rewards, credit cards, etc.). They'll even track rewards for your entire family or company.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yankees vs Phillies


Yesterday, I met baseball legend Tommy Lasorda in Manhattan Beach and I asked him who he’s rooting for to the World Series – he said the Angels. I said how about if it’s the Yankees vs Phillies – he said "the PHILLIES". I take it he doesn’t like the Yankees especially after refused (jokingly, I think) to take a pic with a dude who was wearing a Yankee shirt. I bit my tongue.


Friday, October 23, 2009

FEATURED STORY: NBTA in San Diego

Greetings from San Diego, California! This week, we check in at the world’s largest business travel conference, the National Business Travel Association (NBTA), where all the airlines are strutting their new seats. They featured a slew of amazing gimmicks and speakers (including President Bill Clinton and Captain Sully) to entice. Read on ...
http://www.johnnyjet.com/folder/archive/WheresJohnny10212009.html

Thursday, October 22, 2009

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: IMB Live Piracy Map 2009

IMB Live Piracy Map 2009
I just read a story in a popular travel magazine that piracy is rampant – not just off the coast of Somalia, as so many of us know – but all over the world. The source quoted in the article I was reading was the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) so I dug a little further and this is what I found. Their map shows all the piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre during 2009. The exact coordinates are provided but if they are not, they provide estimated positions. Users can zoom in and click on the pointers to view more information about an individual attack. I think it’s important information to know before you book that cruise or, if you’re more adventurous, jump in a sailboat to sail the high seas.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

TRAVEL VIDEO OF THE WEEK: YouTube Concierge In Puerto Rico


  • YouTube Concierge In Puerto Rico
    In an age of social media and instantaneous sharing, here’s a great marketing ploy that hoteliers should think about mimicking. Not so long ago, it took us about a week after returning home from a trip to show off pictures unless we wanted to spend double the money to get our photographs developed in an hour. These days, we have Skype, Facebook, Twitter and a whole host of other social networking sites through which to share our photos. But check this out: The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino (where I’ve stayed before; here’s my story) has created a YouTube Concierge.

    One of its staff members walks around the resort (the pool and the beach seem to be the hot spot) with a camera and has willing guests share their vacation experiences for their friends back home in a quick, 30-second video postcard, free of charge. The video clip is formatted with the Marriott’s branding and then uploaded to the San Juan Marriott Live YouTube Channel, so guests can email their friends, family or co-workers back home.

    The hotel claims it’s so guests don’t have to worry about bringing a camera to the pool or the beach but we all know it’s just a genius viral marketing effort on their part. After guests record their 30-second video clip, provide written consent to post the video on YouTube, it’s up by 5pm that evening.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: ThisWeekInTravel.com


  • ThisWeekInTravel.com
    What's so amazing about the Internet is that there's an opportunity for everyone to start something (a business, a website, a blog) and if you put something good out there, it has a good chance of sticking! The two-month old travel site ThisWeekInTravel.com is doing just that. It's been created by three popular travel bloggers: Jen Leo from the LA Times, Chris Christensen, the host of the online show Amateur Travel and Gary Arndt, who's been traveling the world since 2007 and runs the blog Everything- Everywhere.com.

    ThisWeekInTravel.com offers a weekly podcast, covering news and topics and trends in the travel industry. I learned about it when they invited me to be their guest of the week. Unfortunately, my schedule has been crazy and whenever they tape their weekly podcast (recorded over Skype every Wednesday between 7:15am and 8:15am), I seem to be on a plane or at a conference.

    I've listened to a few of their podcasts and I'm impressed. The hosts and their guests chat about the travel news of the week for an hour and give a useful tip at the end of the show. If you're interested in travel (obviously you are!), I'm sure you'll like it.
  • Monday, October 19, 2009

    Delta Doing Something Special In October


    This month Delta is doing something special for the fifth year in a row. They are uniting their employees and customers through numerous pink initiatives that benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). I learned about it because I just flew Delta from New York to L.A. this week.

    As I was going through security at JFK’s Terminal 4, a few flight crewmembers cut to the front of the line. I was going to jokingly give the two in jeans a hard time since crewmembers aren’t supposed to cut unless they’re working. Good thing I didn’t because not only were they working – they were working my flight.

    Turns out that on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the month of October, Delta’s flight attendants can opt to wear an alternative uniform of jeans and a T-shirt or a pink dress for the women. Delta sells them one of the three styles of monogrammed breast cancer awareness T-shirts ($16), the net proceeds of which go to the BCRF. Passengers can also contribute to the cause by making an in-flight donation (payment by credit card) or by buying a signature pink lemonade for $2 a glass; you can also get a pink margarita for $7.

    I got chatting with Denyse and Nicolas, the two flight attendants on my flight who were supporting the cause. They told me all about the initiative and I learned that Delta has a Boeing 757 that’s painted pink and white. Like so many of us, both Denyse and Nicolas are linked to someone who has been touched by the disease and the tears started flowing when Nicolas told us that his mother lost her battle to breast cancer just a week prior, at just 57 years old. Obviously, Denyse and Nicolas were very proud that Delta is running this campaign and so am I. Good work, Delta.

    Looking for other ways to support Delta’s breast cancer awareness campaign, even if you’re not flying with them? You can shop for co-branded Delta and BCRF pink products including pink luggage tags, tumblers, aprons and pens, ranging in price from $2 to $16, a portion of proceeds benefiting BCRF. The best way to contribute is to make a donation directly to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.



    Friday, October 16, 2009

    FEATURED STORY: London - NYC - L.A.

    Greetings from the good ol' U.S. of A! This week, we fly across the pond from London to New York to catch a Yankees game, then head home to California to attend a Twitter Conference and spend some quality time with my dad -- including going to a Dodgers game!

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    BREAKFAST IN NYC

    Somebody help me! I just returned from a breakfast meeting with Sonoma County Tourism and Lou Hammond & Associates at Norma’s in The Parker Meridien. I haven’t been there since the morning of my cousin AJ’s wedding and I feel sick from having four glasses of the best fresh squeezed OJ; it’s $9 but you can have all the refills you want … hence the four glasses! AND … I had huevos rancheros and a chocolate peanut butter waffle-wich, which should only be served for dessert. What was I thinking?! Norma's at Le Parker Meridien, 118 West 57th Street, New York, NY; Tel: (212) 708-7460.

    FEATURED STORY: Cody, Wyoming

    Destination: Cody, Wyoming
    Explore the Wild West in Cody, Wyoming; it's a historical goldmine.
    By Georgette Diamandis

    Howdy and welcome to cowboy country! That's right -- we're in Cody, Wyoming, the rodeo capital of the world. Historic downtown has its famous founder's touch still on it with Buffalo Bill's Irma Hotel and the super-wide streets he designed to turn his massive stagecoach and team of horses around. And after you've stayed a bit, you can explore nearby Yellowstone, America's oldest and most famous national park.

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    WEBSITE OF THE DAY: MySkyStatus.com

    My buddy Leo Laporte turned me on to this site. He registered with the site for his Emirates flight from Dubai to San Francisco, to publish his flight progress for his Facebook friends and Twitter followers. I thought it was so cool to see the updates so I decided to give it a try on a couple of my flights this week. My first attempt didn’t work because I put in the flight number and the cities. Upon closer examination, I realized that it asked for flight number OR city pairs. So for yesterday’s flight, I put in the airline cities and then chose the flight number. It all seemed to be working as I was prompted to put in my Facebook and Twitter login information. But after the initial update, it didn’t continue to work. I’m sure it was something I did wrong so I will give it another try on Friday but I wanted to be one of the first to tell you about it so you can check it out, too. Obviously my first impression is that it’s a little confusing and being run and branded by Lufthansa doesn’t exactly help. Users aren’t stuck with just that German carrier; you can be flying any airline on any route. Comments on my Twitter and Facebook pages had mixed reviews so try it out and let me know what you think! I love the concept.

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    FEATURED STORY: Amsterdam

    Amsterdam
    Where to stay and what to do in Holland's capital city.
    By Ramona Zacharias

    For the record: 48 hours in Amsterdam is not enough. However, that doesn't mean that 48 hours can't be the best of your life! While visiting the city for the opening of a new museum at the end of an intense two-week trek across Europe, we certainly made our short stay there worthwhile.

    Friday, October 09, 2009

    The Easiest 150 AA FF Miles You Will Ever Earn

    The Easiest 150 AA FF Miles You Will Ever Earn
    American Airlines (AA) ran this promotion last year and it's such a good deal we just had to feature it again. Normally, 150 bonus miles would cost you $150 if you are earning them from your Infinity credit card. So this is probably the easiest 150 AA miles you will ever earn without flying. Just watch this two-minute Bose noise cancelation headset video and answer the simple question at the end. I didn't even pay attention and I answered it correctly! I did it a few days ago and the miles are already posted to my account. The offer ends October 14, 2009, so act now.

    Wednesday, October 07, 2009

    FEATURED STORY: Athens to England

    Cheerio from England! Last week we left off from Athens and instead of flying directly back to the States, I stopped off in jolly old England to not only make my trip shorter but to review two incredible hotels and check a destination off my Bucket List: Stonehenge. This week, we also have part two of Ramona Zacharias' European adventure. Join her as she tours us around Amsterdam.

    Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    WEBSITE OF THE DAY: CrankyConcierge.com

    CrankyConcierge.com
    My buddy Brett Snyder, who provides snarky opinions on airlines and airports on his blog Cranky Flier, has just launched a new, unique service for travelers called Cranky Concierge. It’s a personalized air travel assistance company for those fliers who would like to have an airline dork watching over them. It’s not for savvy travelers who are well versed with the Internet. But for those passengers, they will provide flight planning, flight monitoring, delay and cancellation assistance and post-trip dispute assistance. Prices start at $30 (with a money-back guarantee). For more details and pricing information, log on to CrankyConcierge.com.

    Monday, October 05, 2009

    WEBSITE OF THE DAY: CurRate.com

    CurRate.com
    Here's another mobile app that's not just limited to iPhone use. Actually, I prefer using it on my computer. I used to log on to XE.com to get current currency exchange rates but now I use CurRate.com since it not only gives you the exchange rate, but it also shows what each country's bank notes look like. It's simple but genius! So, if you've never seen a euro, Fijian dollar, a Lesotho maloti ...you can see all of those different bills and hundreds more from practically every country in the world. Interesting and educational.

    Friday, October 02, 2009

    # TRAVEL PRODUCT OF THE WEEK: DoYouPoken.com


  • DoYouPoken.com
    Last week I told you about the Twitter Conference I attended in L.A. with a bunch of celebrities (Tony Hawk, Tony Robbins, Peewee Herman), marketing mavens and techies. Of course, I was bound to learn about some new websites and tools and the most interesting came from HelpAReporterOut.com founder Peter Shankman. Peter gave me a small key-ring size USB device called Poken and they range in color and characters from The Scream to a panda bear. The idea is this: Instead of handing out your business card, all you do is touch Pokens (it's not as kinky as it sounds). It takes two seconds and the exchange will transfer contact details instantly (users can upload a photo, their bio, address, phone numbers, email, websites, etc). When you get back to your computer, all you do is plug the Poken in to your USB port and presto! All of the contacts are downloaded instantly and it will even initiate a friend request to your social media networks. No more tediously typing out contact information. It's perfect for conferences or tradeshows. Poken is getting big in Europe so it's probably just a matter of time before Americans start Poken. So what are you waiting for? Look like you're ahead of the game and get a Poken now. They retail for $18.95.
  • Thursday, October 01, 2009

    FEATURED STORY: Budapest


    Destination: Budapest
    From castles to underground military hospitals to rural wine tastings, take a well- rounded tour of this remarkable city.
    By Ramona Zacharias

    Country number two on our trip was Hungary. I didn't know much about the city of Budapest up until this point (like, for instance, the fact that the city is divided into two components, "Buda" and "Pest", which are separated by the Danube) and the four full days we spent in and around the main core was a great introduction. From castles to underground military hospitals to rural wine tastings, we certainly received a well-rounded glimpse of this remarkable city.
    Read on ...