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September 19, 2007

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Nice to Paris to New York
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Greetings from Massachusetts! This week, we travel from Nice, France to New York, NY and then on to one of America's best summer getaways the island of Nantucket. Unfortunately, here in the northern hemisphere, summer is almost officially over but the transition to fall comes as a very special time for travelers. September and October are two of the best times to hit the road as the weather is magnificent, the crowds have dissipated and the prices have dropped! Almost anywhere you go, you'll find these conditions and nowhere more than Nantucket. Okay, you're right ... San Francisco can't be beat during these two months, either! If you'd prefer to stay home and be an armchair traveler, be sure to read David Zuchowski's travel book review of In Search of Paradise: Great Gardens of the World. It's perfect for this time of year, especially for travelers who love gardens and gardening.

NICE TO PARIS
Last week, we left off in the south of France. I had an amazing time there and if it weren't for a family vacation back in the States, I would have extended my trip. The Nice airport (NCE) is a 30-minute drive from Cannes. After checking in for my flight, getting my shopping receipts stamped to get my VAT (Value Added Tax) refund, I made my way through security. I feel like I'm getting to know the Nice airport pretty well since this was my fourth trip to NCE in five weeks. The airport is new and modern but doesn't have a lot of shops or a variety of places to eat. Wireless Internet access is not free so I just wandered the terminal aimlessly admiring its view of the Mediterranean. The airport's glass jet-ways make the usual slow-moving line boarding planes less claustrophobic. I took my seat in the back of the plane next to my two friends. I'm usually an aisle man but I didn't mind being stuck at the window when I had these two pretty women to jump over. Well, flight time to Paris was a quick one hour, so I didn't need to get up and use the loo. Instead, I planted my face on the window so I could marvel at flying over the City of Lights during the day. Seeing the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe made me want to turn my two-hour layover into two days. J'adore Paris!

CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT
Although Charles de Gaulle airport was recently rated as one of the world's worst, by the International Air Transport Association, it's definitely not my least favorite (ahem ... JFK.) Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic and just the fact that I'm in Paris is enough for me to overlook the poor customer service. However, the modern design of the new terminals is inviting. Because a member of the French government was accompanying me, I got access to the Business Class lounge (gosh, I love my job!) The lounge was spacious and had a plethora of free drinks and fattening snacks. To top it off, my ticket was booked with the option for a space-available upgrade. And so, I did the ol' nervous waiting game. When I checked with the agent, she said there were still four empty seats in business class. Yes! Then she said, "Make that three." I silently said to the man above, "Please God, don't let any last-minute business travelers show up. I promise to be a good boy and go to church every Sunday, even if the Yankees are playing the Red Sox." And just when I'd given up hope, my name was called over the PA system, which meant the golden ticket went through! Speaking of golden, the announcement came just as I was using the W/C (water closet) so I had wrap things up pretty quickly before they gave my seat away to some other sucker.



PARIS TO JFK
Getting upgraded on a transatlantic flight is equivalent to the feeling you get when you hit a homerun or score a goal in soccer or lacrosse. It's a rush; the only difference is that the rush of the upgrade lasts longer ... unless it's playoff season. To get out to the Boeing 747-400 series plane required a long shuttle ride. We could have made it into Paris in the same amount of time. This plane had older seats than the 777 I flew over on and speaking as a connoisseur of business class, they weren't that comfortable, either. And the entertainment devices didn't offer on-demand TV, though they offered a variety of continuously run movies. Service was just okay and I was surprised when I asked the flight attendant for some water after the meal service and she said, "You can help yourself in the galley." Ouch! We were served two meals; the lunch service after takeoff was served from the back of the plane to the front so my first choice appetizer and dessert were both gone by the time they got to me. But who's complaining? Sitting up in "Affaires" made the seven hour flight seem short.

BANK OF AMERICA
After landing, I made my way out to where I grew up in southern Connecticut. It's just a 42-mile drive and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours depending on traffic. I hung out there for a couple days catching up on the daily grind. While looking over my bank and credit card statements, I noticed that Bank of America was charging me the usual $5 ATM international transaction fee. However, this fee should have been waived since I was careful to use their French partner, BNP bank machines, while I was in France. I called Bank of America, went through their tedious, automated prompts and finally got the representative I spoke to, to reverse them. She apologized but it just pissed me off that they make customers go through these unnecessary steps. You know it's a total racket and that they do this to everyone so they can make a few extra dollars; they're banking on the fact that most people won't catch the error or invest the time to correct it. Shame on B of A.

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Copyright 2007 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip

 

Nice Airport

 

Window Seat

 

Arc de Triomphe

 

Charles de Gaulle Airport

 

Air France Desk

 

Air France Business Class Lounge

 

Shuttle Bus To Plane

 

Buisness Class

 

7 Hour Flight

 

Lunch On Air France

 

Air France Dessert

 

Snack On Air France

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