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May 21, 2008

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 L.A. To New York

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Cheers from Connecticut! Last week we were in Belize and this week, we've ended up at the brand spankin' new MGM Grand at Foxwoods. This US$700 million investment is slowly bringing Las Vegas to the northeast. And if the opening night gala is any indication of what's to come -- look out, Nevada! The festivities began with a dinner prepared by celeb chef Tom Colicchio, followed by Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones introducing the evening's performers: John Mayer, Josh Groban and Alicia Keys. P. Diddy finished things off with a bang at his late-night soiree. The list of celebrities attending was long and included Quincy Jones and my ex-cousin Jamie-Lynn. If you're up for some Vegas-style fun in the woods of New England, then grab your dancing shoes. But if taking things at a slower pace and soaking up the sun is more your speed, then join Aubrey Lampkin as she tours us around Ko Samui, Thailand.

Before we get started, there's something I wanted to mention: Hilton Hotels, an official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, has asked a select group of experts (including yours truly) with backgrounds in travel, cultural awareness and character development, to provide unique perspectives on hospitality and the dos and don'ts of international travel. What an honor it is to be included in their Be Hospitable® traveler program. I hope Team USA, along with other business and leisure travelers, will learn some important tips on Chinese customs, culture and etiquette while bringing home the gold.

Last Thursday, I flew from Los Angeles (LAX) to New York (JFK) on Delta. My complimentary upgrade didn't go through but my experience was still pleasant. It all began when I made it from the curb through security in three minutes flat. And that's saying a lot because the line was out the door. This was possible because I checked in online and I have elite status so I was able to bypass the long lines. Who says the economy is suffering? The airport was completely packed at 10am on a Wednesday morning!

DID YOU KNOW? Passengers can still use the long underground hallway that connects Terminal 5 to Terminals 6 and 7. I discovered this when my gate was moved from Terminal 5 to Terminal 6.

When I reached the gate, they were just beginning to board my zone (2). Getting on the plane early guarantees an overhead spot for your luggage so take advantage of it if you can. Flight time was a quick four hours and 38 minutes. I ate a huge breakfast so there was no need to buy one of Delta's sandwiches onboard but I did snag a $3 bottle of vitamin water. To pass the time, I worked until my two laptop batteries went dead and then flipped through the 18 channels of live satellite TV. I've got to tell you: Delta really makes transcontinental flights go by quickly. FYI: Delta's 737s don't have power ports, unlike their 757 planes.

I realize what airplane emissions are doing to the environment so instead of giving privately, each week I will list the amount of money I spend for a carbon offset. This may not be as good as not flying at all but let's face it: the plane is still taking off whether I'm on it or not. And my name is Johnny Jet not Johnny Jog. Los Angeles to New York is 2,475 miles and a carbon offset from is just $8.94 round trip.

When I landed it was rush hour so rather than pay $65 for a taxi or car service and then having to sit in traffic, I spent just $7 for the train, which took the same amount of time as driving. This was quick because I was traveling by myself and didn't have much luggage. It's easy as I just followed the signs. I took the AirTrain to Jamaica Station, which took 10 minutes and cost $5 (you pay when you get off, using a Metro Card). The Metro Card machines are easy to use and there are plenty of them. Prices vary, depending on where you're going. I was headed to the Upper East Side so I took the E Train (subway) to 53rd and Lexington Avenue, then transferred to the 6 Train for just $2. Door-to-door took me exactly one hour!

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