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January 20, 2009

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Air France To Lyon

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Aloha and Bonjour! Last year I traveled so much (23 countries) that I fell behind on my trip reports. To catch up while also keeping you informed on my current travels I've decided to publish two stories a week: One will be about where I just returned from and the other will be on my trip to Europe last summer. It should only be like this for a month; I hope you like it!

This week's stories are a play-by-play of my trip from Los Angeles to Lyon via Paris on Air France and a slide show of my trip to Hawaii-this time I traveled to the beautiful islands of Kauai and Oahu. We also have Melissa Leaman's picks for fun and interesting events in New York City.

It was difficult for me to have a good time this week in Hawaii after seeing all the horrific images from Haiti. I just don't understand how a country so close to America and other first-world countries couldn't get more timely help. An hour or two after the quake hit, rescue workers from around the world should've been on planes, helicopters, and boats filled with tools and aid. It was so disturbing that we didn't do anything to try and get our U.S. citizens out who were volunteering there-I couldn't believe my ears watching the Today show on Monday and learning that many of those students from Lynn University are still unaccounted for. According to the news agencies Haiti still needs money. The easiest way to donate is to send a text: Enter the word "Haiti" and send it to 90999, which will automatically make a $10 donation to the Red Cross. You can also text "Yele" to 501501 for a $5 donation. Here are some other ways to donate within the travel industry:

Delta customers can donate SkyMiles to the Red Cross thru SkyWish.
Continental customers can donate OnePass miles to Red Cross
United Mileage Plus members can donate by logging on to
American Airlines AAdvantage members can donate to the American Red Cross
Virgin United's link is
Hilton HHonors points for relief efforts.

I lost my cousin Marie this past week. She was one of my biggest fans and was the reason I continued to send handwritten postcards from everywhere I went. Marie was always the life of the party and lived a long life (91). She will be terribly missed.

I flew from Los Angeles (LAX) to Lyon (LYS) via Paris (CDG) on Air France. I was a guest of the French Tourism Board so I knew they had put a note in the computer to authorize the agents to upgrade me to business class if space was available-but even with that kind of pull it still requires some schmoozing, which is why I always carry a box of chocolates for the agents and flight attendants. Hooray! At the very last minute the upgrade cleared, which made the 5,650-mile flight seem short. Here's how it went.

The secret to get through security in LAX's terminal 2 is to use the elevator if the line downstairs is long-there are never any passengers upstairs but there is a bored TSA agent stamping boarding cards.

A business class ticket grants you access to Air France's Club Lounge-they use Northwest Airlines, which desperately needed help; I think since my trip they've renovated it but I'm not sure. One thing is for sure: The concierge in there was very friendly, and they have free drinks and light snacks (including guava juice!). The also have individual Ghirardelli chocolates, which everyone loves.

Boarding the Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft was quick. My oversized seat with plenty of legroom came with a mini bottle of water and an amenity kit.

What's interesting is that the flight attendants told passengers NOT to have their seat belts fastened because the plane was being refueled. That was a first for me but it made sense.

As always I wiped down my seat with an antibacterial wipe to kill all the gnarly germs.

There was no pre-flight drink offered, which was odd for business class, but I didn't care since I had a bottle of water and that's all I usually drink while flying.

The flight was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. but we pushed back seven minutes early. There was no announcement and people were still in the bathroom or on the phone-you have to love the French!

I sat next to a cool young, pretty cooking student headed to Torino, Italy. She was good company for the 10-hour-and-15-minute flight.

We took off at 3:36 p.m. (you have to love LAX). I set my watch nine hours ahead to mentally adjust to the time change.

3:47 p.m. the flight attendants (FA) passed out menus. Choices were:

Foie gras with apricot chutney
Marinated scallops with olive oil and lemon

-Pan-seared tournedos of beef served with peppercorn sauce, carrots, bok (they spelled it “pak”) choy and Jerusalem artichoke
-Cajun shrimp accompanied by saffron rice
-Special of the day (lamb tagine with apricots)

Special selection of cheese

Assortment of desserts
Choice of mango, lemon, raspberry sorbet or a fruit tart and/or cheese/fresh fruit

An hour prior to landing was breakfast:
-Fresh fruit, yogurt, pastries
-Cheese omelet served with bacon and potatoes
-French toast and caramelized apples

3:56 FAs pass out declaration cards
4:10 A not-so-friendly-looking FA comes around with hot towels
4:12 Friendly FA picks up dirty cold towels
4:21 Drink cart makes an appearance for the first time. Not-friendly FA turned out to be friendly-don't judge a book by its cover! (FYI: They serve from back to front)
4:30 Drinks served with addicting cheddar cheese crackers
4:36 Well-dressed FA comes by and asks if everything is okay-it's all good
4:42 Not-so-friendly turned friendly FA picks up the trash and gives me the eye-I now think she is flirting. Hey baby.
4:55 Food cart rolls down the aisle
5:01 Seat belt sign goes on for the first time-we're over the Rockies.
5:10 Most FAs retreat and there's an announcement that they're going to temporarily suspend meal service because of the turbulence. The FAs in business class continue service, passing out trays individually (no cart).
5:20 Dinner is served (I had the beef).
6:45 They collect trays (dinner is just like in France-a long, delicate process).
6:46 FA asked if I worked for another airline since I was taking so many pics-thought I was a spy.

Seat belt sign went on two more times-over Mt. Rushmore and Thunder Bay, Canada.

-The seats don't lie flat, making it more difficult to sleep, but who's complaining?
-It gets cold so bring a sweater.
-I sat in the bulkhead and I could hear the toilet flush and people walk by me so next time I will choose row 3, 4, 9, or 10.
-The self-service snack bar has just drinks-I didn't see any food or snacks like on British Airways.
-There are lots of entertainment channels to choose from including new releases and movies for kids.
-They also have live views from cameras below and at the front of the aircraft so you can see what it looks like outside. I love it!

-We landed a bit late, but we landed.
-The immigration line was pretty long, but if you have a biz or first class ticket show the stub and you can go to the line with no one in it. It took me just three minutes to clear and the agent spent 10 seconds to scan my passport and stamp it.
-I had to transfer to gate F30, which required just one elevator ride and a bit of a walk. The gates in this new terminal are beautiful and they have a few choice chairs all the way down at the end.
-Before I met up with my group I grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich (comes with butter) and a water for 7 euros-I paid by credit since the ATM was down.

From Charles de Gaulle Int'l Airport to Lyon is 257 miles (58-minute flight). Most of the passengers on board the A320 were tired Americans-I suspect most French are wise and instead take the train since it's just two hours and means you don't have to deal with the airport hassles. The flight was a bit bumpy and most people slept (or passed out). I, however, stared out the window and nibbled on the free snack-half a sandwich and a coconut tart.

My bag made it!

Next week we tour around Lyon.

Here's my two-minute video of the Air France flight(s) from Los Angeles to Lyon (via Paris).

*PLEASE tell us what you think of this week's newsletter!

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

Pictures From

The Trip


Cousin Marie


Air France Agents @ LAX




Concierge in Club


Air France Lounge


Air France 777


Air France Business Class Seats


Seat Amenities


Air France Flight Attendants


Entertainment Options






Filet Mignon


Lamb Tangine


Fruit & Cheese






What A View






Beautiful Architecture


More Beauty


My Posse


Heading To Lyon






Bonjour Lyon!




  • Love your Maui trip story! Julie W - Brentwood, CA

  • I love that resort! I stayed there 2 summers ago and had a great time playing on their sand vball courts. You gotta play! Judy L - Baltimore, MD

  • Your quick trip this last week to Maui, was almost the best of all!! You literally did not leave any stone unturned (lol) your stone massage!!! What gorgeous, fantastic pics this week. The whole ambience of the Ritz sounded liked heaven. I am sooo happy you are doing all this fantastic jaunts. Your experiences are so NOW and up to the minute I am addicted to your weekly reads, as well as I cannot wait to get up in the am and see where you are...are the beach at Manhattan neighbor you live or ready to take off for somewhere. I especially like it when you visit a place I have today I will use all the features you mentioned in my noggin while I have a horrible MCI. I am going to tell the nurses, techs, I am traveling with JJ to Maui!! Your job is dream happening! Love it!!! Sailinsal, Southern, CA

  • Am surprised to see this site recommend Jacquie Lawson e-cards. Quite a few of my friends send them. They are mawkish, "chocolate boxy" and unduly long....I now automatically delete any that come into my inbox. I would have thought time would be a factor for your readers! SL - Prescott, AZ

  • Photo of American Airlines seat - I think it is terrible. It looks like the old Aeroflot airline shot. I have had no trouble downloading photos. Reducing the size of the photos impairs the viewing pleasure and all the effort Johnny put in taking them - just my opinion - Howard M - Irvine, CA

  • Johnny, while describing your trip to Hawaii in the latest newsletter you noted that, "They distributed the food back to front and since I was in 1B I got the last macadamia nut french toast." Whenever you travel in first class on American Airlines you should remember the acronym FEBO. "Front Even, Back Odd". The flight attendants are supposed to take meal orders from front to back on even numbered flights and from back to front on odd numbered flights. The idea is that it means passengers who regularly choose to fly at one particular end of the first class cabin don't get stuck without meal options all the time. In practice, it means those of us who know "the secret of FEBO" can take it into account when choosing our seat assignments in order to decrease the chance we'll get stuck with the cereal. Gregg W - Arlington, Virginia

  • Re: Photo downsizing on your site: Had the same problem. After a lot of research I came up with a fab solution: I bought the program Advance JPEG Compressor 2009 for about $30. It reduces the density of your photos with no reduction in physical size or quality. I shoot all my photos in extra fine. No way those load (or email). I have no idea how that works but it does and does it extremely well. I think you can do an online trial to see what I am talking about. I always download any online software through cNET because I feel that they won't make it available until they are certain it is not problematic. Hopefully this will solve your problem. Regards, Pamela S-

  • I really like this format much better that the one with pictures first. I don't always want to look at all the pictures, but I do always want to read all of the text. I hope this week's edition means we are back to the old way for good. I look forward to Wednesdays and the email each week! Thanks for sharing your tales! Mary F- Providence, RI

  • I loveeeeeee this website! Please don't ever stop sending it!!! Whenever it pops up in my e-mail, I read it immediately. Thanks for all you do? and I wish I could see all these places with you… Colleen Smith - Calgary AB

  • Oh my God! Your pictures and videos are such a pleasure. Hope you are having fun. Susan S - Baltimore, MD

  • I wanna be you Johnny - when i grow up - oh man. Jim P - Norwalk, CT

  • I am a travel agent and I love it!!! Great info...

  • I loved all the pics of your dad. He looks so happy all the time! Melissa - NYC

  • Actually... Customer service was amazing. So much so that I emailed the manager upon return. People at front counter went above and beyond. Thought the equipment in the gym was old and the lobby sushi bar was not great. Sean W - San Diego, CA

  • We were in Maui and Kauai for our Honeymoon... I wish I could go back some day :) Josefina D - CT

  • Lucky - love this hotel. Melissa L - NYC

    You missed one of the most fabulous places to dine in Florence! Sweet Magnolias (1154 N. Wood Avenue, Florence, AL 256-765-2234). I guess, because it is new, it was overlooked. It is worth a trip back, Corinne! This Café is reminiscent of an outdoor café in Paris or New York. Two guys from California, who are in the entertainment industry, came to Florence and opened around August of 09. Please come again. There is more. Rhonda H - Former travel agent

    LOVED you photos and article - The Nonantum is truly a very special place where many generations continue to enjoy Maine together.

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