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December 24, 2008

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Jet Blue's T5

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Bonjour from Belgium! The snow is falling outside my window, which is just steps away from the Grand Place. What a way to get into the Christmas spirit! We pick up this week from where we left off, which was on the Celebrity Solstice cruise in south Florida. After we disembarked, I celebrated my dad’s birthday and then flew to New York’s JFK so I could check out JetBlue’s new Terminal 5 and more importantly, catch my Jet Airways flight (my new favorite airline) to Brussels. If you’re up for a Christmas treat, then pack your bags and come with me. But before we get started: Thanks to everyone who cast their vote for their preferred newsletter format. There were hundreds of votes and I listed a few of them in this week’s reader e-mail. I guess you know which format won. What was I thinking when I introduced the new look? It only received two votes and one of them was mine!

Last week’s Celebrity’s Solstice cruise was incredible but unfortunately, everybody had to be off the ship by 9am on Sunday morning so they could get it ready for the next sailing. Most passengers were up late the night before in the casino, the dance club or walking the decks. But for me, there was no time to rest because it was my dad’s ?0 birthday (he won’t let me fill in the first number) but I will say that it was a milestone. Obviously, we had to do something special so my brother, sisters and uncle all met at the Calder Race Course (not far from Port Everglades) to surprise him.

We chose Calder because my dad loves watching the horses run and it was the only track that was open. It turned out to be a perfect choice as the folks there were kind enough to name the fifth race after him. The Frank The Bank Classic was not only shown on the big screen, but was also listed in the daily racing program. On top of that, we were all brought into the Winner’s Circle, which was extra special since it was the one race my dad actually won! Most of the time was spent on the clubhouse level where they have roaming tellers and tables overlooking the track. Each table comes with a TV so we could watch the race up close or better yet -- Sunday football! Go GIANTS! Talk about a budget-friendly birthday part. It was just $19.95 a person and it included a Sunday brunch and programs for all. For more information, check out:

It’s always nice to be in the Florida sun and around my crazy family. I spent a few days in Delray Beach at my sister Carol’s and then she and my dad were kind enough to drop me off at West Palm Beach Airport (PBI) so I could continue on with my journey around the world. I was supposed to spend a night in New York City but they were having such a terrible cold spell, I changed my plans to fly up the same day as my evening international flight. Obviously, I didn’t want to take the chance of missing my flight so I monitored the weather and took one of jetBlue’s morning flights. That got me into JFK a good five hours early.

Although jetBlue allows customers to check one bag for free (there’s a $20 service fee for the second bag), I decided it would be best to carry both bags on so there was no chance of having to deal with misplaced luggage. Ninety-eight per cent of the time, I only bring carry-on anyway, but since this trip involved multiple climates, I had an oversized bag. At the last minute, I decided to grab a duffle bag that I used to use as carry-on in the late ‘90s, before they began cracking down on baggage size. I knew it would fit in any overhead bin so my big task of the day was making it past the TSA, which I did -- even with an oversized bottle of sunscreen and mosquito repellent that I forgot about. To avoid any trouble with the jetBlue gate agents, I went straight to their desk and asked politely if the plane was packed (it was 90% full) and if it was okay that I brought my big ol’ bag on. They were super friendly and it turned out that one of the gate agents was originally from Mumbai; she gave me all kinds of tips for my trip to India.

The $20 I’d pre-paid for an exit row was a smart move. Not only did I have extra legroom and space but no one else was sitting next to me. I had the whole row to myself and I was even able to lie down for a few minutes just because I could. Flight time from South Florida to New York is a short two hours and 20 minutes. It’s so quick there’s not enough time to sleep, work on your laptop and flip through all of jetBlue’s live satellite TV/music channels. FYI: jetBlue now charges $1 for headsets and they are rather cheap so save your money and the environment and bring your own; this will also give you much better sound.

When we landed, the pilot said it was a “balmy 35 degrees Fahrenheit” so you know how cold it must have been the day before. The only good thing about flying via JFK is that I was excited to see jetBlue’s new terminal, which they dubbed T-5 (just like London’s Heathrow). T5 opened in October and it features up to 20 security lanes, 26 gates with plenty of seats, free Wi-Fi (with lots of outlets to get a charge), a large children's area, 22 food outlets including some upscale restaurants and 25 retail stores. My only disappointments were that it wasn’t as bright as I expected, the ceilings aren’t as high in the gate area as I imagined and it’s a long walk to the Air Train. But overall, it’s quite nice and what an improvement from their previous Terminal 6. What a difference!

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Copyright 2008 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


My Brussels Window


Celebrity Solstice


My Dad's B-Day Party


Calder Race Track


He Won!


Lunch In Delray Beach


jetBlue Gate Agent


jetBlue Airlines


On Board!


Welcome To N.Y.


JFK's T5


Outside at JFK



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