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September 13, 2006

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                        PENNSYLVANIA, PA

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Greetings from an undisclosed location (I’ll give a hint at the bottom of the newsletter)! Last week (here’s the link to the archives) we left off from Nantucket. This week we travel to western Pennsylvania, using one of three alternate airports (we saved money by flying JetBlue). If you’re interested in visiting with my family, taking in a professional baseball game and learning some ways around high-price airfares into secondary cities, here’s your ticket.

Before we get started, an announcement: A friend recommended I create a MySpace page in hopes of driving more traffic to I made one a while back, but never publicized. So here it goes: If any readers have a MySpace profile (or a LinkedIn Profile), please sign up to be one of my friends. (It’s kind of embarrassing, but right now I have "no friends"). Also, if you own a travel website please put a link to and/or on a high-PR-ranked page. As you can see, I’m putting on a full- court press to drive traffic. We just hired a new advertising salesperson too, so if you want to advertise send us an email ( Most importantly, please tell all of your friends and colleagues to sign up for our free weekly newsletter at If you haven’t been to our homepage lately, check it out – it’s been redesigned, and is updated constantly to help you find the best travel deals and tips. FYI: Did you know JohnnyJet is read in over 127 countries? Most are from North America, but I was blown away when I learned about our website traffic.

After last week’s fantastic trip to Nantucket I traveled back to New York City, so I could catch my flight home to California the following day. But at the last minute my sister Carol talked me into changing my plans once again. So instead of being on a plane to L.A., I was pricing out tickets to Carol’s summer house in Erie, PA (yee haw!). I love spending time with Carol and her family, but my real reason for going to the border of the Midwest was to see my dad. I felt bad because he had only a few hours to spend with us when he was in Connecticut the week before (he couldn’t travel to Nantucket with us because he had to go move into his new house in Erie, with his new wife Nancy. My sister Carol hooked him up with Nancy (she was my sister’s neighbor) after my mom passed away.

Airfares to Erie can be ridiculously expensive: $286 to/from LaGuardia for a last-minute one way ticket. That’s more than a ticket to California, and Erie is five times closer. Is that ridiculous or what? That’s what happens when there is no low-fare carrier serving a city. Fortunately, Erie does have a good selection of alternate airports that are serviced by low-fare carriers (here’s a helpful page I made to find Alternate Airports). Erie’s alternate airports are Pittsburgh (134 miles away), Cleveland (112 miles) and Buffalo (105 miles). We flew JetBlue into Buffalo, then drove 90 minutes to Erie. Purchasing tickets far in advance with a low-fare carrier like jetBlue is the way to go – seats can be as cheap as $59 one way. They usually go up closer to departure. I bought mine a few hours before takeoff, and paid top dollar ($150). But that was not nearly as bad as what the legacy carriers (American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, USAir and United) would’ve reamed me for.

We flew out of New York’s JFK (JetBlue also has a small percentage of flights out of LaGuardia and Newark). If you’re unfamiliar with JetBlue (where have you been hiding?), they don’t offer food -- only chips, cookies and drinks. But they do have fine food options to bring on the plane in their JFK terminal. Also in JFK’s Terminal 6, JetBlue offers free wireless internet. That’s key for a computer junkie like me. Why can’t other airlines do the same? I normally feel lucky if I get a hot spot that costs $6 an hour, but JetBlue does a lot of the little things right. I haven’t even mentioned that they have one of the friendliest staffs around. And best of all: They offer 36 channels of live TV on individual monitors in the seatbacks. That makes any flight go by real quick – especially when traveling with kids, or on a short 55-minute flight like ours. JetBlue; tel.: 800-538-2583.

I have written about Erie so many times that I’m not going to bore you. But if you are new (welcome!), you can click here to read Johnny Jet archives for past trips to Erie (or wherever). Let me just note that my trip there was as great as always. I know most people have a notion of Erie as being a dreary, miserable city, but it’s not (well, maybe some parts are). Much of the area is really beautiful, especially in the summer or when covered in fresh snow. Erie is a relaxing holiday for me. I love taking a stroll on Presque Isle’s 14 miles of scenic trail along Lake Erie, or going to the prestigious Kahkwa Club to play a round of golf. Kids love Erie too, because of the popular Waldameer Amusement Park. And on rainy or cold days there’s the year-round Splash Lagoon indoor water park. One of my favorite ways of passing time is shopping at Wegmans -- one of the best grocery stores in America. They have everything you want or need. And who can forget about Lake Erie sunsets? This is one of the best places in the world to watch the sun go down.

Just by chance, while I was in Erie I received an invite to the new PNC Park in Pittsburgh to see the Pirates take on the Atlanta Braves. I jumped on the chance, because one of my goals in life is to see a baseball game at every ballpark in America. Pittsburgh’s new stadium was on my list, waiting to be checked off. The trip there was even more special, because I kidnapped my dad for the two-hour drive south. We had a room at the Radisson Hotel Pittsburgh Green Tree (rates start at $89), located on the other side of the Fort Pitt Tunnel. Next time I’ll stay in the city, because the Fort Pitt Tunnel seems to always have traffic. The drive from the hotel to the stadium should normally take just 10 minutes, but in rush hour or before a game it can be three times as long. The hotel worked out fine; nothing special, though the staff was very friendly. Other positives: The rooms were clean, and they had free wireless internet. The hotel could use a makeover – in particular the pool and breakfast buffet (the latter needed some help, or a lower price tag than $12.95. Radisson Hotel Pittsburgh Green Tree, 101 Radisson Drive, Pittsburgh, PA ; tel.: 412-922-8400.

PNC Park opened in 2001 -- the same year as Heinz Field, which is next door (they share a parking lot) and home to the 2005 Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. There was a buzz in the air, even though the Pirates are one of the worst teams in the league. But it was a warm summer night, and the 38,000-seat classic-style ballpark was alive. I’m sure a lot has to do with the stadium’s design, restaurants, and prime location (along the shore of the Allegheny River, and adjacent to Federal Street). The best views of the downtown skyline and riverfront are from home plate, but it really doesn’t matter where you sit because the stadium is so intimate. The highest seat is just 88 feet from the field. Every seat has a fantastic view of the city – and, more importantly, of the natural grass playing field. There are 69 plush suites, complete with living room design, TV to see and hear the game, all kinds of food, air conditioning/heat, and a private bathroom. We scored tickets not only into a suite, but to Suite 1. Yeah Baby! Suite 1 is regarded as the best, because its location in the corner along the river side with a wall of glass windows shows off the spectacular view. These days the most exciting part of the night for most Pirate fans who have the privilege of being in a suite is the dessert cart. Holy cow! When this bad boy comes around people run for the door in excitement (it’s too big to fit through the door). Are these dessert carts the best thing to hit sporting events or what? Next time you find yourself in Pittsburgh, be sure to take in a ballgame, or at least a tour of PNC Park. Tours are available through October 13th, Monday-Friday, on both game days and non-game days. For more information click here, email, or call 412-325-4700 or 1-800-BUY-BUCS ext. 4700.

The following day my dad and I drove back to Erie. I hung out with him for a couple of more days. Then I needed to get back to New York City to try out a new airline (which I will write about next week). I can’t wait to tell you about it, because my flight here was so good that this airline is now my new favorite. Too bad my trip back from Erie wasn’t that way. Instead I got suckered into buying one of those crazy expensive one-way fares to leave town. You know: Sometimes it’s not worth putting all the time and effort into driving to an alternate airport. Besides, I didn’t want my dad to drive me 100-plus miles, as he would have insisted. Instead I flew on two of USAir’s regional jets. The first segment was Erie to Philadephia (it took 55 minutes, and was late as usual). The second segment (after a quick layover) was Philadelphia to La Guardia. The taxi to takeoff was longer than the 25 minute flight!

Next week we travel in style, as we hop the pond and begin a 2-week, multiple country trip to…? See you next week!

Happy Travels,
Johnny Jet

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Copyright 2006 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


My Dad


Drive Back To CT From Nantucket


My Dad And Nephew




JFK Airport


Free Wireless


JetBlue Plane


Live TV = Quiet Kids


Golfing At Kahkwa


Kids Playing Airplane


Drive To Pittsburgh


Our Hotel Room


PNC Park




Suite 1


Dessert Cart


Pittsburgh Skyline


USAir Regional Jet



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  • I am so jealous. Next year I am going to Nantucket. I absolutely love New England. I loved the video, I watched it three times. Frank has great taste, I want his house (both of them). Thanks for sharing! And what a good looking family you have. A.W. - Florida
  • Best Nantucket video EVER! The content was great, the photography was great. Can't wait for the sequel! Charlie Krajewski - McMurray, PA
  • Awesome commentary and video of Nantucket! I also have a summer home there and had the privilege of meeting Johnny at the Boarding house with his sister Carol. Job well done!!! I am forwarding this to EVERYONE!!! Caron Dockerty - Florida
  • I read your newsletter every week. I really liked the Nantucket tour. I love the beaches & the quaintness & history remind me of "our own" Mackinac Island. Have you visited there? Thanks for your travelogues. Keep up the great publication. Donna - Rodney, MI
  • I loved your video of Nantucket and your articles are very interesting. Lory E - Phoenix, AZ

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