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What a week in Southern California!  Who would ever know its January?  It's been in the 80's out here, and it not only feels like summer, but it looks like it too.  The beaches are crowded and the girls are rollerblading up and down the Strand in bikinis.  God bless California!  My friends and family are mad at me because I keep calling them from the beach just to rub it in.   Not to worry, they got their pay back when the NY Giants (my favorite team) lost a heart breaker in San Francisco. The phone has been ringing off the hook.  One friend said "Tony Bennet must've written "I left my heart and San Francisco" for the NY Giants because that's just what they did." To say the least, Sunday was not a very happy day at our house.  Not only did my favorite team lose big, but guess whose Amber Airplane's favorite team? That's right, the Cleveland Browns. UGHHH!  She went shopping to help alleviate her sorrow (shocker), I walked a few miles home from my Dad's place and sulked.  To make matters worse, on the walk home I stepped in dog poop with my BRAND NEW shoes, and then I tracked it through our house.  At that point I just wanted to cry.  

If you are all confused because I mentioned my Dad's place in California, don't be.  He still lives in Connecticut, he and his companion, Nancy, have rented a place a few miles from my house for the month of January.  That means you will be sure to see a lot of pictures of my Pops in the coming weeks.  You know if I am going to be writing about my father, then you can bet there will be food mentioned in the same paragraph.  Not too many people love food more than my Dad. So a Los Angeles Zagat guide was the perfect stocking stuffer for him.  He's been reading it like it's a Stephen King thriller.  We have been dining out at least two times a day and eating like royalty.  We have visited a wide range of restaurants from 1 star to 5. Everything form soul food to Italian. Mangia!   

When I saw  Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles restaurant as one of the top 10 eateries to go to in L.A. on the Travel Channel, I knew we had to pay them a visit.  The review in Zagat said "You haven't lived until you have dined at Roscoe’s".  Well, I can finally say... I have lived!   Who ever heard of fried chicken and waffles as a combo?  We dined at the one on 1514 N. Gower St. in Hollywood (other locations include:  830 N. Lake Ave. Pasadena, CA,  5006 W. Pico Blvd. LA, CA, 106 W. Manchester Ave. LA, 1514 N. Gower St. Los Angeles, CA.).  As predicted, there was a line outside so we gave our name to the well dressed host.  He quoted us 15 minutes, but we were seated in 5.  There weren't that many choices on the menu, so I opted for #13.  One tender-juicy breast, with a golden waffle ($6.95).  I also ordered biscuits and gravy ($1.10), side of corn bread ($1.50), and a slice of sweet potato pie ($3.00).  The food came out within 5 minutes. We feasted!    My Dad tore that chicken apart ! And the usual well mannered Amber Airplane was out of control!  I don't even think she bothered to use utensils.  One thing is for sure; you don't leave this place hungry or broke.

Another place that's off the beaten path that has to be mentioned is Raffaello Ristorante in San Pedro.  You will not find a better restaurant for an Italian feast in the United States.  Pretty bold statement, I know, but I have three very close and picky Italian connoisseurs who agree with me. Two are full blooded Italians who spend time and visit Italy frequently, the other is my Dad. Since it's in a not so desirable location, not too many people know about it, but once you walk through the doors you forget about the neighborhood.   Just the smell alone brings you straight to Southern Italy.   The owners are from Calabria and are always there.  Lunch is an unbelievable value.  Get this for; $8.95 you can have a large bowl of Rigatoni Pomodoro and included is a slice of pizza, garlic twists, fresh baked bread, the best roasted peppers and a crisp cool salad.  If you are in the Los Angeles area and you want a great Italian meal which just happens to be a bargain, then visit Raffaello Ristorante at 400 S. Pacific Avenue, San Pedro, CA 90731 tel. 310.514.0900.

Amber Airplane and I decided not to go to a fancy New Year's Eve Hollywood party as planned.  Instead we took my Dad and Nancy to the   Laugh Factory on Sunset Blvd.  It was a pretty good deal.  $50.00 per person gets you in the door, appetizers, one glass of champagne and party favors. The worst part of the evening was that they made everyone wait in a really long line to get in. 

Just because its 85 degrees during the day, doesn't mean it stays warm at night.  The temperature around 10:00 PM was in the low 50’s, and their set up was so lame that by the time everyone got in they were all in a bad mood.  Another bummer was that if you were not fortunate to get a table, they would squeeze you in on top of each other.  What I also didn't like was the fact that at midnight, the comedian on stage had no idea what time it was.  So we had our New Year's countdown a few minutes after midnight .  Not a big deal, but it's not fun to be at a place where the other guests don't say "Happy New Year" to anyone other than the people they are with. That's pretty lame.  The good news was the 6 comics were all very funny, and they quickly made everyone forget about the miserable experience of getting in the door earlier. Would I go there again?  Yes, but definitely NOT on New Year's Eve.  More on my Dad's first week in LA, next week.  

Let's fast forward a few days to January 6th.  That's when we landed in New York.  To refresh your memory, this was the day after the Giants unbelievable loss.  Walking around the city, you could tell who the Giant fans were and who the Jet fans were.  The Giant fans looked like zombies and the Jet fans looked like they just returned from Vegas after hitting the jackpot.  I was walking around in a "fog".  How else can I explain this story:  I was in town to attend my cousin's engagement party (more on that next week with plenty of photos, including cast members of the Soprano's).The whole night I thought Amber Airplane had lost my cell phone. She thought so too, because we both thought she had put it in her purse.  We were pleasantly surprised when I retrieved my jacket from the coat check and there it was! In my jacket pocket.  Great!  Then we hopped in a cab go to the apartment and guess what?  That's right!  My cell phone was missing!   After dumping every thing on the floor I realized I must have left that sucker in the cab!  The really funny thing about this,  is the story on how I got it back which I look forward to telling you next week.

Top Story: This past week the FAA reported that 2002 was among one of the safest years for air travel .  There were over 13,000,000 take off's and landings in 2002 which comes out to over 35,000 a day.  The great news is not one American commercial airliner had a fatal crash.  According to the FAA the only other years to achieve that were in 1993 and 1998.  Unfortunately, the 14 month crash free period came to an end today.  Just one week into 2003,    US Airways Express Flight 5481 crashed in N.C.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims’ families, friends and rescue workers.

Here is Johnny Jet’s Year in Review for 2002. 

What a year it was. continued to grow in visitors and  in the News in the News (Yeah, baby!).  We were fortunate to be named "One of the top best money-saving web sites for travel " by Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Magazine and the L.A. Times included Johnny as "One of the top 30 Essential Resources on the Internet".  If that wasn't good enough, the New York Times wrote about us twice in the same week!  Not bad for something that I started as a weekly email to a few friends.   Not only did the company grow but so did my belly!  After completing my first year of living with Amber Airplane, my pants size has gotten bigger; thanks to Ms. Airplane’s non-stop baking of sweets.  I don't think she understands that I have a problem when it comes to chocolate chip cookies.  If there are sweets in the house, they will not be around for long.  I admit it, ok, I am the real Cookie Monster.  Don't laugh, it's not funny.  One of my goals for 2003 is to get some self control around her baking and at the Las Vega$ buffet tables.  Another goal is to travel a bit more internationally.

Speaking of travel, the numbers are in and I flew a total of 138,783 miles and 99 segments in 2002.  My goal was 80 flights and 100,000 miles so I made it safe and sound!  LAX, ORD, JFK, LGA, HPN,   DEN and CLE were among the top airports that I frequented in 2002.   I was lucky enough to go to Hawaii twice last year, once for a  little R&R , and the other for dinner . Flying to Kona, Hawaii for dinner just proves that the world is getting smaller and traveling to Hawaii for a day does not have to be that big of a deal.  In fact, you would be surprised how much you can do .  

Obviously, Amber Airplane was my travel companion for most of 2002.  What's great about traveling with her is that we have a lot of the same interests.  Not only that if...   I can't get us upgraded then she can , so we are usually flying in style which makes flying a breeze (no pun intended).  We went to so many places this  in ‘02; London , Mexico Vancouver , and around 20 states.  We spent most of our time visiting our families. We saw her's in Cleveland ,   San Diego and even in , L.A.  We spent time with my family all over but mostly in   California , Pennsylvania , Chicago , & Connecticut .  When we weren't hanging around with our families, we were relaxing in Florida , surfing in Hawaii , freezing in Minnesota , or eating potato's in Idaho .  The highlight was definitly visiting Alaska for Summer Solstice.  You have to love a place where you can play volleyball at midnight and it feels like 3pm.  We stayed with my best friend from college; Kevin (and his wife Lisa).  They were awesome hosts and we saw so many incredible things.  The worst part was having taking a sea plane (Alaskans call them "Float Planes") ride on a very windy day.  
When I wasn't traveling with Amber Airplane, chances are I was with my Dad or brother .  Frank and I started off the year with a trip to Mardi Gras for the Super Bowl, then we went for a hike in Bandelier National park in New Mexico , dined on insects in Santa Monica.  In the summer you could find us on his boat in Connecticut , or partying in NYC.   We also made the most of a sad trip to South Carolina to say goodbye to my Mom's brother Uncle Einar.   On October 14th we were all in Connecticut to celebrate my Mom's 2nd birthday in heaven.  But who could forget the nightmare drive we had to Erie, PA for Thanksgiving Dinner ?  Not me.   

Speaking of Erie , I made countless trips to see my neice and nephew there.  I'm so lucky because I not only did I get to see them in PA , but I was able to play with them in Anguilla and New York City (But, they still haven't come to California to visit their Uncle Johnny :-().   

My Dad a.k.a. Pops, was not the easiest person to travel with (unlike my Mom).  But if you take BIG Frank to the right places it's a joy.  The highlight was fullfilling his dream with a weekend trip to the Kentucky Derby .  My buddy Joe Lewis not only made it happen, but got us seats in Millionaire's row.   We followed the Triple Crown all the way to the Belmont Stakes in NY.  A close second was his annual birthday party in Vega$ .    Can you tell that boy likes to gamble or what?  

I spent a lot of time in New York city , but not as much as I would've liked.  Hopefully, I will spend more time there in 2003.   Since my future cousin-in-law is  Jamie Lynn Sigler I was lucky to have her take me over to work and show me around the set of the Soprano's .  It was so cool to play pool in the Bada Bing room and meet most of the cast .  Fughetabout it.......

That wasn't the only set I visited or celebs that I met.  In Studio City we watched a taping of Just Shoot Me , and went to boat load of parties where I met everyone from Shannon Elizabeth to Al Gore (I met him in Salt Lake City ).  The coolest had to be Jason Giambi from my beloved  Yankees .  

As you can tell 2002 was quite busy, and memorable.  Hopefully, 2003 will be just as good or better!  Safe travels everyone and thank you for your continued support!

Johnny Jet
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Harry S. Pariser: Author, Writer, Photographer

Tips for Hotel Tipping (From The Independent Traveler)

Not every hotel you are going to stay in will have a bellman and concierge. Heck, some just have Frank, who makes $4.25/hour, asleep behind the desk. In this case, you needn't worry, tipping is probably not expected; but if you're staying in a place slightly more upscale, tipping is both customary and appreciated.

Because tipping is a way of rewarding good service, there is no way to say what is appropriate across the board. Tip at your own discretion, and only if you feel it is warranted. Here are some general guidelines to follow.

Valet: $1-$2 each time he gets the car, more in bad weather
Shuttle Driver: $2
Doormen: $1-2 for hailing a cab
Bellmen: A tip of $1-$2 a bag if he brings your bags up to your room, and again when he carries them back down

Concierge: The concierge at a hotel is your go-to man. If you need any kind of arrangements made during your stay, he can often make you dinner reservations, get you theater tickets, and in general attend to you for anything you may need. It is a good idea to tip the concierge the first time you request special attention, anywhere from $2-$20 depending on the service provided, and the services you anticipate needing.

Room Service: 15% of the bill or at least $2, unless gratuity is included
Housekeeping: $1-$5/night, depending on how neat you are!
Coatcheck: $1-$2

For more comprehensive tipping guidelines, don't miss Fodor's How to Tip .





  Business Travel Today







Travelers Alert: Super Bowl Air Travel Ticket Scams(From
Travelers planning to attend Super Bowl XXXVII should be aware that not all tour packages include a ticket to the January 26 game in San Diego.

U.S. Department of Transportation consumer protection rules require that an operator marketing a Super Bowl air package that is promoted as including game tickets must have the tickets in hand or have a written contract for the tickets before the operator does any advertising.

The department is cautioning travelers that if a game ticket is not specifically mentioned in newspaper advertisements or other solicitation material or listed as a tour feature, the ticket is probably not included.

If a travel agent or other tour representative states that a game ticket is included, require at time of purchase that the game ticket be presented or a written confirmation of the ticket provided.

Before purchasing a Super Bowl package, read the tour brochure and any other solicitation material carefully. Pay by credit card, where possible, to provide some degree of protection under fair credit practice laws. The Truth in Ticketing rules state that if a tour is supposed to include a game ticket and you do not receive one, you are entitled to a full refund of the entire package price when you return. If the tour operator increases your price by more than 10 percent beyond what you originally agreed to pay, you have the right to cancel and receive a full refund. No price increases are permitted during the last 10 days before departure.

Additional consumer protections apply to Super Bowl packages involving public charter flights. If the operator makes a major change in the tour -- such as changing the flight's departure or arrival city for either the departure or return date, or substituting a hotel not named in the solicitation material or the operator-participant contract -- you can cancel and get a full refund. Less than 10 days before departure, a Super Bowl charter tour may not be canceled except for causes that make it physically impossible to operate it. On a public charter, you are required to sign and are entitled to have a copy of a detailed operator-participant contract.

Scheduled and charter flights have check-in time limits. Consumers are advised to arrive well ahead of the scheduled time. DOT advises passengers to consult with their travel agents, charter operator or airline for the actual check-in deadlines.


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