WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    L.A. to Orlando

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Good news for the economy! According to American Express Travel's booking data, overall airfare bookings are up 11 percent for domestic trips and 16 percent for international trips this holiday season. The bad news is prices are high and I'm seeing an increase in ridiculous enforcement of carry-on baggage.

If you are following me on Twitter then you know that this past week I've been in Florida--first to speak to UCF's Rosen School of Hospitality and then to babysit my niece and nephew in Delray Beach. One thing is for sure, I have a newfound respect for those single parents raising kids. It's hard work--and I even had my dad come in for backup, plus hired a housekeeper to clean up after these monsters.

To get to Orlando I flew American Airlines nonstop from LAX at 8:30 a.m. I noticed the agents that used to just check boarding passes before the security check starting to crack down on carry-ons a couple months ago over at T7 (United). Now they are doing it at T4 (American). But the bin that they say your bag has to fit in is way too small. It's crazy. I don't know if it's because these agents have never been on a plane or if it's the airlines trying to make more money, but they won't let travelers budge. I travel every week and use the same bag and I know it fits on the plane but not even close in the tester. I got around it because a flight attendant who knew the agent went through just before me and gave her a hug, so when it was my turn the first thing I said to her was, Where's my hug? She actually did hug me, so I was able to make nice and get through. Moral of the story: be prepared to pull out all the tricks, or leave time to go check your bag.

When choosing my seat assignment, I usually take an aisle seat where someone's already booked at the window but not in the middle seat (on planes configured 3x3). Middle seats are usually the last to be taken, so it's a good chance it will be empty. I do this again (if needed) when I go to print the boarding pass a few hours before the flight. Having an empty seat in between you and your seatmate can make or break your flight experience.

I've notice on several occasions that passengers using American Airlines paper-free boarding passes have trouble getting through security checkpoints. It's not American's fault but rather TSA's. When I use it, I bring a paper backup. I know it defeats the purpose of saving paper and avoiding the hassle of printing, but it's a whole lot better than having to go downstairs to get a paper ticket like I've seen passengers having to do.

-On my flight last week to Orlando, the seat-belt sign stayed on for the first 90 minutes of the flight, and it wasn't even that bumpy. This seems to be constantly happening on U.S. carriers, but I don't know why. International carriers usually turn it off within six minutes. Moral of the story: use the bathroom before getting on the plane.
-Flight time was just 4 hours and 12 minutes.
-The flight attendants were nice, and the one middle-aged male flight attendant was funny as can be. He had a quip for everyone. A passenger was complaining it was too cold by the window, and he said, "I will try and get the pilots to turn up the heat, otherwise I will find a hot girl to keep you warm." Then he handed my seatmate his ice water and said, "Here's your double vodka sir--it goes down smooth like water." Maybe you had to be there.
-You know you are heading to the South when a guy on your flight has a hat on that says "Born to hunt, forced to work."

The MCO airport code is based on the airport's former name, McCoy Air Force Base, but Floridians joke that MCO stands for "Mickey's Corporate Office."

I was in Orlando to speak at UCF's Rosen School of Hospitality Management. It's the second time I've spoken there, and the students never seem to disappoint. They are well behaved and eager to learn. I was shocked that they didn't get up once throughout my 90-minute presentation. To say the least, it went really well, and because of all the positive feedback from the students, I'm pumped to continue to teach and inspire people to get out there and see the world. I now offer two presentations: One on how to travel the world on a budget but live like a rock star, and another on teaching tourism officials how to woo a travel writer and tell if they are legitimate. If you would like me to speak at your college, conference, or office, please contact Wolfman Productions or Whitney@JohnnyJet.com.

To get from the airport to the hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando (they were putting me up) arranged a car service for me through Mears Transportation. The drive was just 20 minutes to the hotel and I had a cool Egyptian guy as my driver. The drive refreshed my memory about how many chain restaurants Orlando has. They must have every single one ever created and then some. One of my local friends informed me that most of Orlando's best restaurants are in hotels, which means hotel restaurants aren't just filled with out-of-towners. One reason I mention the car service is because taxis in Orlando are crazy expensive and a car service is just a few dollars more, so I recommend splurging on the more comfortable ride. NOTE: Renting a car is usually much cheaper, except when you only need to go between the airport and hotel.

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Copyright 2010 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


LAX Checking Carry-Ons


My Flight to MCO






Mears Driver


Nice Car



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Amy L. Scott
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