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    Security Game - Can YOU Spot The Threats?  

    Baggage screening is our last defense against terrorist at airports. If you've always wondered what it was like to be a baggage screener, now is your chance. This website (brought to you by MSNBC) lets you take a 2-minute shift in that important position. After a quick introduction, your job will be to "red flag" any bags containing potential threats (bombs, guns, knives...). Don't mess up!

    As a TSA agent you have the ability to stop any bag on the conveyor belt. After doing that you can zoom in, zoom out, switch to a black-and-white view, or add color to better spot any suspicious explosives (as you will learn, these come up in orange).

    During your shift you will hear typical airport background noises, such as flights and passenger names being paged over the P.A. If those sounds aren't distracting enough, wait until you stop a bag for closer inspection and take too long. You're sure to get flak from angry passengers saying, "Come on, hurry up, I got a plane to catch!" Or, "My grandma can do a faster job than that!" But ignore them; just concentrate and do your job.

    At the end of every shift you will be notified how many bags you screened, how many contained potential threats, how many threats you correctly identified, any false alarms you declared, and your grade. Everyone's shift is different, so try multiple times and see how well you do as a baggage screener.

    And keep in mind: If a real baggage screener missed one threat, he or she would be fired.

    As you can see, baggage screening is only as effective as the people behind the machine. I bet you'll be a bit more patient the next time you fly, right?

    Here's an example: Woman gets past N.Y. airport security with stun gun, knife
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Greetings!  I hope you had a great week.  Before I forget: Those of you who have not confirmed your subscription to this free newsletter will receive a confirmation email very shortly. Hopefully this will ensure delivery of our newsletter, because so many spam filters are wrongly blocking us.  

Back to business: Last week we visited three great places to view planes while grabbing a bite to eat near LAX.  This week we visit more restaurants (minus the planes buzzing by) as we take out-of-town guests on a tour of the Los Angeles area.  My good friend Mike, who is from Connecticut, has been to L.A. many times, his but girlfriend Henrietta had never set foot on California soil.  That's a treat for me. I get almost as excited as the visitor when I show off all the great Southern California sites. 

Henrietta grew up in Hungary, where her and her friends’ favorite TV show was Baywatch.  Since it was filmed in nearby Santa Monica, that was one of the first places we took her.  After we checked out one of the beaches they used, we drove north along the Pacific Coast Highway.  Everyone got hungry real quickly so we pulled into the closest restaurant, which was Duke's.  This is a chain, located primarily on the Hawaiian Islands.  In fact, Duke’s Waikiki is one of my favorite restaurants in the world because of its location, menu and kick-back atmosphere (I always wear shorts and flip-flops). Duke's in Malibu is okay, but it doesn't compare to the one in Waikiki.  Both the atmosphere and the menu are a little different.  However, the prices are fair, and the coastal setting is amazing.

We sat next to the window and watched the surfers catch waves.   The biggest treat was seeing a gray whale only 100 yards away.  Duke's Malibu, 21150 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu, CA; tel.: (310) 317-0777.

Speaking of whales, the following day we took another drive along one of my favorite coasts in the world.  This is of course the Palos Verdes coastline.  I used to drive it every day going to work at Marymount College.  The views from this area are simply breathtaking, and nothing beats smelling the fresh, clean Pacific Ocean air.  We also saw some harbor seals, which made the day even more special. 

This is a great time of year to spot gray whales, because they are migrating to Mexico.  We drove a little further, then pulled into another turnoff and ran into volunteers who count the whales for the annual census.  They used to set up their chairs at the PV Lighthouse, but since it is closed for renovations (I think) they are at this location.  We did not spot any whales, but the volunteers said they had seen seven the day before.  One of the volunteers offered to take this picture of us, and we got talking.  It turned out the nice gentleman was also originally from Connecticut. Not only that, but his brother went to school with my father at Fairfield Prep.  Small world, huh?

The most interesting part of our conversation was listening to the gentleman tell us all about how he was the first employee at Pepperidge Farm.  It turned out this man used to deliver bread to people around town.  He said Margaret Rudkin, the founder, could not make enough of it, even though it was almost four times more expensive than the bread in stores.  Her bread was supposedly much healthier and tastier.  Our conversation brought me back to when my mom used to tell me similar stories about how Mrs. Rudkin started baking in her house for friends.  As you can see, I come from a small town where people appreciate a good American success story.

We drove this way not only to see the magnificent coastline but to get to San Pedro, so I could take Mike to my favorite Italian restaurant in the area. I have talked about Raffello's before, but it's so good and so inexpensive (for lunch) that it shouldn’t be overlooked.  In fact, I have been there twice already this week.  Every table gets fresh baked bread, pizza, the best roasted peppers, a crisp salad and entree.  I order the Rigatoni Pomodoro.  I don't drink alcohol, so I can walk out for under $11.  Mike said, "It's incredible.”  I said, “No. It's Raffaello's." 400 S Pacific Ave.,  San Pedro, CA; tel.: (310) 514-0900.

After showing Henrietta around Hollywood, we went to one of our favorite late- night joints.  This place was immortalized in the movies "Swingers" and "Pulp Fiction.”  Do you know what I’m talking about?  Of course you do: Roscoe's for chicken and waffles.   I always order Number 13: one succulent chicken breast and one golden waffle.  Ummm ummm!  Roscoe's House of Chicken ‘n Waffles, 1518 N. Gower St., Los Angeles; tel.: (323) 466-7453.
The following day we went to the Santa Monica farmers’ market.  Mike and Henrietta made Amber Airplane’s week by getting her a pink orchid.  After buying a bunch of fresh fruit and goodies we went to breakfast at the Omelette Parlor on Main Street.  This place is a scene on weekends, and the staff actually aren't that friendly, but it's soooo good we still go there.  I especially like the breakfast tacos or the Schwarzenegger (can you spell his name?) omelette.   Omelette Parlor, 2732 Main St., Santa Monica; tel.: (310) 399-7892.

We were so close, we had to stop by the world famous and eccentric Venice Beach.  Despite the reputation, I am starting to despise this place. It's so dirty, and the people are a bunch of freaks.  I can take it only once a year, so hopefully we won't get any more first-time California visitors.  Luckily those guys felt the same as me and after twenty minutes and a couple of freak shows we split.  
That night Amber Airplane had to get something from the store (a shocker, I know) so we went to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.  The best part about this excursion was that Mike and I found a Ms. Pac Man machine on the bottom floor of Urban Outfitters. It was the first time the girls ever had to wait for us guys to leave a clothing store.    

Everyone was hungry again.  Believe me, we ate out so much, I am describing only a third of the places we dined at. We were all in the mood for Mexican food, so we drove back up PCH to Marix Tex Mex Cafe.  I hadn't been there in a long time, and it sure wasn't a scene like in the old days.  It used to be the biggest meat market.  However, it was just as well, because none of us are single, and the food is still good.  We had a cozy table near an open fire. (FYI: There are two Marix restaurants, and the one in West Hollywood is known as a popular gay hangout. That’s not a bad thing; I just thought I would let you know.   Marix Tex Mex Café, 118 Entrada Dr., Santa Monica; tel.: (310) 459-8596.

I don't remember which day it was, but I do know we went to Westwood to check out UCLA and Westwood Village.  These guys couldn’t decide what they wanted to eat, so I took them to Jerry's Famous Deli.  That was a bad move, because the menu is so big that even people who know what they want have trouble choosing.  Jerry's Famous Deli, Westwood Village, Weyburn Ave.. tel.: (310) 208-3354.
I did know one thing for sure:  After dinner I was making a beeline to Diddy Riese for the best 35-cent cookies around.  (They used to be a quarter, but even with the 10-cent hike they’re still a bargain. The never-ending line out the door is proof of that.)  Their menu is filled with more than 10 kinds of warm cookies and 12 different Dreyer's ice cream flavors. My favorites are the double chocolate with white chocolate chips (no nuts), and the white chocolate chip cookies without nuts (just in case you want to buy me cookies sometime). Diddy Riese Cookies, 926 Broxton Ave.,  Los Angeles; tel.: (310) 208-0448.
Before I go catch a flight, I have to tell you one last thing. This drives me batty.  Mike and Henrietta rented a car (online and from, of course) from Thrifty.  When I dropped them off I told Mike that whatever he did, not to let the agent hard-sell him products like collision damage waivers.  Most people who read their credit card and/or personal automobile policy agreements will find they are already covered.  

Almost all rental car companies use scare tactics to push these additional fees onto customers.  Sure enough, Mike called me as he was driving up the California coast and said that the agent did indeed put heavy pressure on him.  It got so bad that Mike had to give her the stink-eye and say, "Listen, I’ve read my car insurance policy. I KNOW I AM COVERED, and if for some reason that doesn't cover me, my credit card will!” 

He declined everything, but she did sell him on the pre-pay gas option.  I forgot to tell him to say no to that too.  He thought it was a good deal, because if he forgot to return the car full he would've been charged over $4 a gallon.  With the gas option he could return it empty, and they would charge him $1.40 a gallon. That’s a good deal for gas, but you need to return the car almost completely empty to make it worthwhile.  So people come dangerously close to running out of gas, or else they make numerous trips to the pump because they keep trying to put in what they think is just enough gas.  That’s what Mike did.  Just so you know, the area around LAX has plenty of gas stations.  So the next time a car rental agent tries to put the hard sell on you, treat them like a drug dealer. Just say “NO!”

Happy travels,

Johnny Jet

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  • I want to take my kids for a ski trip. How do I find the one to Jackson Hole you mentioned? The Teton village.
  • You have some great information. I love to travel last minute, and I my family loves to travel (2 adults, 2 children F 25-29) We were just feeling like giving up, then I heard your show. Great site! Glad I heard you. Chris W - Chicago REPLY: Thanks for the kind words. For more information on Teton Village, visit or call (800) 801-6615.
  • Mr. Jet, You were on the WCKG 105.9 in Chicago this 'Saturday' (I think you taped it - Bob Sirott joked about what day it was). Anyway - You mentioned a Southwest Airlines deal at Treasure Island in Vegas. I couldn't find the link you we're talking about. I went to Southwest's site, but I think you said it was, or something like that. Please let me know the link. p.s. Your site's pretty cool - I'm going to forward it on to my friends! Thanks, Charles K. - Chicago REPLY: Thanks Charles for the email and support! The deal was found on this website:
  • FYI, The Encounter restraurant used to rotate, that was a big deal way back then. Charles H
  • I have just found out about your website, I think it is great. With all the traveling you do I am sure you must have had an anxious moment or two stood at the baggage carousel waiting to see if your luggage arrives! My wife and I suffered the travelers worst nightmare, lost luggage. I decided to do something about the vast problem and founded If you click on the press & media page you can see our story. If you could be kind enough to provide me with a mailing address, I would like to send you a complimentary set of globalbagtags to try our for yourself. Kind regards, Chris T
  • Dear Johnny, I think I actually cried as much as AJ watching the beautiful wedding on tv the other night....AJ was so handsome and Jaime so completely stole the show with the ring debacle!!! It was so much fun to see it and I actually felt like I was there. I hope they were happy with the performance. I loved it and you were sooo cute...covering your cousin with an umbrella....such a good guy!! Lynn - Connecticut
  • Thank it's such a terrific article. I mean it!! I literally cut and pasted all the links into my favorites and you know how much we travel. These are really valuable tips and now you're going to flooded with calls or emails from people everywhere. Peppa - Rowayton
  • Nice article in USAToday. That's a good looking picture too. Peace. Joe S - Norwalk, CT John, we are so proud of you. Patrick and I almost cried when we saw your article in USA Today. We are beaming with pride. Keep up the good work. You're the best! L and P - Los Angeles, CA
  • Here's a shot from the Polar Bear Plunge in Seward last weekend where I was for the radio show. It was 1 degree with a 30 to 40 knot wind - approximately 30 below chill factor. Note the divers waiting for this guy to die! Note the people bundled up on the deck and they're still freezing their asses off! People raise money for the American Cancer Society by being sponsored to jump. One cool thing. At the beginning they hold a moment of silence with a balloon release to honor those who have been lost to cancer. It's a very moving moment. I was given the honors to do the balloon release in the memory of my brother and my mother. Steve - Anchorage, AK
  • I am writing in response to an article in today's Johnny Jet email. The article entitled : The London Challenge" has a serious error. London cannot be the most expensive city in the European Union as Great Britain is NOT a member of the European Union. As a matter of fact they still have their own currency ( the pound ) and European Union members use the Euro. Please check information before it is passed on as fact. Thank you, C.Wizenberg. REPLY FROM SMARTERLIVING (THEY WROTE THE ARTICLE): Dear C Wizenberg: Thank you for your vigilance, we appreciate your feedback. Smarter Living carefully researches and fact checks all stories to make sure stories do not contain factual errors. Before publishing the London story, we verified that the U.K. is in fact a member of the European Union. Use of the Euro is not mandatory to being an EU member, and Britain has chosen to use its own currency in order to maintain a degree of economic independence from the other states. A list of European Union member states can be found on the European Union's official website: Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, Monaco, and Vatican City are the Western European countries that are not members. The information I included in the story calling the London "the most expensive city in the European Union" has been reported by The Economist and the British Broadcasting Channel (BBC). Thanks, Molly Feltner

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(Q) My question concerns a friend whose husband died suddenly a couple of years ago. When she tried to redeem his mileage plan, she was told that since they were in his name, she could not use them. Isn't this a bit unfair? Afterall, she was his wife, and had he lived he would have redemmed them for himself and her. Does she have any recourse?
I had our good buddy Tim Winship from answer this...
(A)Yes, it does seem unfair. But all airlines have language in their terms and conditions which states that they are under no obligation to transfer your friend's late husband's miles to anyone else.
Here's the verbiage from the world's largest program, American AAdvantage, which is similar to other programs': "... (M)ileage credit is not transferable and may not be combined among AAdvantage members, their estates, successors and assigns. Accrued mileage credit and award tickets do not constitute property of the member. Neither accrued mileage, nor award tickets are transferable by the member (i) upon death, (ii) as part of a domestic relations matter, or (iii) otherwise by operation of law. However, American Airlines, in its sole discretion, may credit accrued mileage to persons specifically identified in court approved divorce decrees and wills upon receipt of documentation satisfactory to American Airlines and upon payment of any applicable fees."
Notwithstanding that bit of verbal jiujitsu, all is not lost. In practice, airlines will often transfer miles from a deceased program member to another person. But as the last sentence in American's policy suggests, they will require documentation, typically 1) that the member in question has indeed died (a death certificate), and 2) that the deceased intended the miles to be given to the second party in question (a will).
If your friend's husband's will makes no specific mention of his frequent flyer miles, it may be enough to establish that she is in fact his wife and therefore entitled to any of his property not willed to others. But that's a gray area, and depends on the discretion of the airline concerned.
In any case, if there are a substantial number of miles at stake, it is worth placing a call to the airline program's customer service department and further discussing their policy and requirements. It could be as easy as faxing a death certificate and will to the airline.

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  • Bikers get boot in child-abuse fracas
  • Sometimes, older is better
  • Miles not what they used to be
  • Welcome to the crowded discount skies
  • Airport left empty after airline bankruptcy
  • United abandons Miami effort
  • FAA to AA, UA: fewer flights at O'Hare
  • JetBlue fires back at major rivals
  • Frontier takes on Ted
  • Fuel hike, take III
  • United to build new Dulles terminal
  • American, Mexicana link up: American Airlines and Mexicana will begin a passenger-sharing alliance in April. The move will expand the reach of each airline by allowing them to sell seats on connecting flights of the other carrier. Also, members of both carriers' frequent flyer plans to accrue and redeem miles on either American or Mexicana.
  • Continental Airlines has announced it is expanding the number of its Presidents Clubs offering wireless Internet access, with all 28 clubs Wi-Fi-enabled by the end of 2004.
  • Northwest to Hawaii: Beginning July 1, Northwest will resume daily non-stop service between Los Angeles and Honolulu with one round-trip flight. The airline will operate the flights on Boeing 757-300 aircraft, with 24 first-class seats and 200 in the main cabin. Northwest suspended the Los Angeles-Honolulu service in December.
  • Guests staying at Marriott Corp.'s Residence Inns, TownPlace Suites, or SpringHill Suites hotels will now have free high-speed Internet access in their rooms. The new policy, being implemented at 600 hotels in North America, follows Marriott's recent decision to provide free in-room Internet access at more than 500 Courtyard by Marriott hotels and 500 Fairfield Inns. The hotel chain will continue to offer its "Wired for Business" package to guests at its Marriott and Renaissance branded properties, which bundle high-speed Internet access with unlimited local and long-distance phone calls for $9.95 per day ($12.95 per day at some Manhattan hotels).
  • Speaking of those looooong West Coast runs, AirTran will be installing new XM Satellite Radio on all its planes starting this summer and promises to have it installed fleetwide by the end of the year. XM Radio offers 100 digital audio channels, including live news, sports, weather, talk and music (Source: The Ticket)
  • US Airways Club Fees Now Come In Tiers US Airways has restructured its US Airways Club membership fees. The annual fee for Base Dividend Miles members is now $375, Preferred Dividend Miles members receive discounts of up to $100, based upon their Preferred level. Access to the Red Carpet Club is an additional $120 annually for all members, access to Star Alliance Lounges and the Red Carpet Club is an additional $220. Current members of the US Airways Club will have access to Red Carpet Clubs through September 1. The new tiered pricing gives members three options: access to the 24 US Airways Club locations in 19 domestic airports and the US Airways Club at London Gatwick Airport; access to all US Airways Club locations and 47 United Red Carpet Club locations; or access to US Airways Club and Red Carpet Club locations and nearly 500 Star Alliance Lounges worldwide, applicable when US Airways enters the Star Alliance this spring. For full details, access or call 800-828-8522.
  • Frontier And United Cap Domestic Fares From Denver Last-minute travelers to or from Denver will save money as competition heats up between Frontier Airlines and United's new low-cost spin-off Ted, which begins service February 12. Frontier announced that it is capping its one-way fares between Denver and the continental U.S. Walk-up fares will not be higher than $299 one-way and advance purchase fares will be significantly cheaper. In response, Ted is offering fares or $309 or less one-way, which the carrier describes as a base fare of $299 plus a $10 fuel surcharge. Access for Frontier or for Ted.
Insider's Paris: Five things to do under 10 euros
Oo-la-la. The season of love is upon us, and what better place to celebrate l'amour than in Paris. No matter what time of year you visit, Paris is full of romance and beauty. Here are a few ideas for inexpensive things to do with someone you love, or on your own, to celebrate the spirit of Paris. Almost all the activities we suggest carry a price tag of 10 euros or less, and many are even free. Click Here To Read Article

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