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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?
"I've been around the Country Yah Yah Yah......." That's my new Puff Daddy song for this week because my Itinerary was: LAX-ORD-IAD-MSY-LAX.
For all you seasoned travelers, you know MSY is New Orleans! Which means Super Bowl Parties and Mardi Gras! We'll save that for later.
Tuesday morning Amber was getting ready to go back to work for the first time in 3 months (Her airline brought back 1,000 Flight Attendants this week :-). Like a good boyfriend I decided last minute to go with her. I cashed in some miles, packed my bags and was on a plane a couple hours later. The surprise here is that Amber got me upgraded. I didn't even try, I was fine in coach on empty 777, but if someone offers you an upgrade, do NOT say no.
We stayed up in the North Shore with my cousin Dennis and family. It was good timing to be there because my two little cousins ( Willem and Madeline ) were celebrating their birthdays. Not only that, but the Chicago area received 18 inches of snow, and you know how I love a good blizzard. I got up at 5:30am and shoveled the walks and driveway for 45 minutes as any good house guest would do. When I came in the house I was sweating bullets and my cousin goes: You shoveled? I go "yeah", he says "Thanks, but I just bought a snow blower yesterday". I was about to kill him because my back was killing me.
On Saturday, I got a call from my brother on my bat phone asking me if I want to come on down to New Orleans for the Superbowl (Another free tip: If someone offers you a ticket to the Super Bowl... don't turn it down). I called up United and said one ticket to New Orleans please. Three hours later I was on a flight destined for Washington D.C. D.C.? That's the only route I could get using miles, so I took it. Since I didn't have time to stop and get something to eat I was starvin' marvin. I was hoping they were going to serve some food in coach, but with all the cutbacks I should've known. I sat about 2 rows back from the open curtain to First. I think they leave those dang curtains open just so all the hungry peasants like me can smell those hot, juicy baby back rips. I was just licking my chops and had to restrain myself from barging up there and stealing one of those hot tasty sandwiches off some dudes plate. Instead I read my magazine and sat patiently.
We landed in D.C. 1.5 hours later and darted to the closest restaurant. Burger King. I ordered a FAT double hickory smoked bacon cheeseburger (no sauce please) and ran to my gate with the bag close to my nose.
My luck I get secondary searched for the second time in two hours (In chicago I came up on the random computer for my checked bag to go through the CTX machine and I beeped going through security). This time I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. These security people really have no clue. They just grab the closest passenger (which just happened to be me because I was itching to get on the plane and eat my burger) without any thought into the process. Do I really look like a terrorist? I finally get on the empty 737 and started mauling this poor double cheeseburger. When I finished seconds later they were getting ready to close the door and as I'm wiping the ketchup off the tray table and my shirt the CSR (Customer Service Rep) comes up to me and says "Johnny would you like to move up to First? We have an extra seat and since you're one of our best customers..blah, blah, ....."
Thirty minutes later the Flight Attendant says "Sir are you ready for dinner?" I said "heck yeah (thinking why did I eat that burger) bring on those tasty baby back ribs, BRING IT ON!" There goes my diet.
I land in New Orleans at 10:30pm with a very full tummy. Grab my bag and jump in a taxi for $24 to the French Quarter where we were staying. I dropped my bags off at the lobby and met Frank and some friends at a club on Bourbon St. It was crazy down there, not only because of the Super Bowl but because Mardi Gras started on Friday. New Orleans always seems to be Mardi Gras, no matter what time of year it is. People throwing beads, getting really drunk, and mad crowds (85% were men, most were college kids). It took me about 20 minutes to walk 4 blocks in the craziness. We went to Pat O'Briens and to Rick's, and before you know it it's 4am and Frank's convincing me to eat a Lucky Dog. Okay, just a bite I said. Walking back to our hotel I see a group of couples and I notice these women had the most beads out of anyone. I ran in front of them and said "excuse me Mrs. T do you mind if I take a picture? Click.
Woke up around 9 am and worked on Johnny Jet for an hour while everyone
else was still sleeping (It pays not to drink).
We strolled the streets of the French Quarter again (The city did a fine job of cleaning it up, I was really impressed because a few hours earlier the streets were completely trashed). We went to the world famous Cafe Du Monde to get some coffee, Beignet, and the best hot cocoa around.
Walked some more, watched a few street acts and bumped into a lot of Football greats. High-fived Boomer Esiason, saw Dick Vermeil who told us the Rams were going to absolutely crush the Pats and saw Emmet Smith chilling with his girl. BTW: The majority of fans were from New England (80%). These guys were crazy, obnoxious and all dressed up in red, white and blue.
Around 1 O'Clock we strolled over to a great NFL pre game party; The Tailgators. They had so much food there that it was amazing. There were about 40 stations of local restaurants preparing their best. It was so gooooood! I had chicken gumbo, cajun corn, Banana Fosters, sweet potato pie......... There were around 2,000 people and wouldn't you know it I bumped into my old roommate. No Doubt performed and then everyone raced to stadium to see the game. I bypassed the stadium and went right to MSY. Why? First of all I thought it was going to be blowout. Did you know they were scalping tickets for face value ($400), last year they were going for $3,500. Plus, I was using miles and United told me either leave Sunday night or Wednesday morning, because Mon and Tuesday are completely oversold. I couldn't stick around till Wednesday and last year getting out of Tampa was a mad house, so I changed my ticket and jumped on the 6:15 flight to L.A. Sat next to a cool guy who is in a band called Creedence Clearwater, and we waited for the captain to give us game updates. Next year I'll stick around.
BTW: I heard this
is what the Rams took back to St. Louis.
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TRAIN TO PLANE AT EWR
TICKET reader David H. I saw that note about the Newark AirTrain service in one of your earlier newsletters, so I tried it yesterday when I was leaving from Manhattan to EWR. It was great... I think it took me only about 20-25 minutes to get from Penn Station to EWR airport. Because it's a new service, there were pretty few people using it. My favorite part was at Penn Station, where there is now a Continental Airlines ticket office (complete with an E-ticket kiosk where I got my boarding pass), and a Continental President's Club. My only complaint is that Penn Station still has some stairways down to the tracks instead of escalators, so it's not a very easy place to navigate a roll aboard suitcase. NOTE: In late March, Continental will offer single ticket plane/train service via Newark to Stamford, New Haven, Philadelphia and plus OnePass miles.
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I was wondering what with the additional baggage screening - i.e. x-raying of bags, how should I transport my 20 rolls of 35mm vacation film? (FROM COOL TRAVEL MAIL)
I used to put it in my carry-on in clear plastic cans (available from Fuji film) and then in zip-top plastic bag so security would have easy viewing and in some cases have it hand screened. Since I no longer plan on having much of a carry-on to avoid waiting in line, can I put my film in a lead bag in my suitcase? Will this black-hole necessitate a special screening and will I be pulled over for trying to camouflage an item?"
This is a very timely question. The bomb scanning machines mentioned above are mostly Invision CTX-5000 explosive material detecting scanners. This is how they work: the CTX-5000 first delivers a low-power, non-destructive X-ray scan of luggage, similar to machines already in use. However, when the CTX-5000 detects a suspicious mass, it turns on a laser-like intense X-ray beam which causes a 1 centimeter (about 7/16") wide fogged line on all unprocessed print film or a somewhat less destructive loss-of-density line in slide film. The higher your film's ISO, the greater the fog or density loss. Using lead safety bags will not prevent damage from the intense CTX-5000 X-ray beam.
The Photographic and Imaging Manufacturers Association has issued this report: "The new scanners are going to make the skies safer by inspecting checked baggage better. If your undeveloped film is checked in your luggage, it could be damaged by new airport scanners. Carry undeveloped film on the plane with you and ask for hand inspection wherever possible. If you are carrying large amounts of unprocessed film, contact the airline prior to your flight."
So, Joyce, keep doing what you've been doing. The new security screenings represent a major new development for traveling photo enthusiasts and professionals, and it is one of the areas in which not all the questions have been asked nor have solutions to the problems been found.
If you're interested in more on this topic, check out the new advocacy
website FSTOP, dedicated to film safety for traveling on planes; they are
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