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Hola! Today is Cinco De Mayo! It's a huge party where I live in California, but what's it like in Mexico? We have four live webcams around the country, so find out for yourself. Arriba! Arriba!

    If you're going to Europe this summer, how will you get from one city the next. The train? That's so passe. What if I said you could jet from one place to the next, for only $99 each segment? If you don't believe me, log on to this week's website of the week: EuropebyAir.com.

    EuropebyAir sells flight passes valid for hundreds of flights within Europe. They cover nearly 150 destinations, and are good on any of the 24 European-based carriers participating in the Flight Pass program. Advance reservations are not required, and there are no blackout dates. Passes are valid for 120 days. All you have to do is buy your Flight Passes before you leave the U.S. (the deal is so good that European residents are not allowed to take advantage).

    To see where you can fly from, check out EuropeByAir's cool interactive map. Just place your mouse over a city. Each line represents a Flight Pass route that is offered at $99 one-way. For more information visit your travel agent, or call 888-231-9455.
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Greetings! Last week I flew back to NYC, this time on the dreadful red eye. I don’t really care for the all-nighters, because I can’t sleep or work on them. Like most people, I have a tough time sleeping on planes. But even if I could, the flight from LAX to JFK is too short to get any real rest: only 4 ½ hours.

This week I had even bigger problems, though, because I made a BIG mistake a few hours before my flight. I went to Jamba Juice, and ordered a smoothie and double shot of wheatgrass. I can see you wincing, and asking what was I thinking? I felt healthy until I arrived at the gate. That’s when my stomach began to bubble. I had a feeling I was in for a long night, but all I could do was shake my head in disbelief.

By the time I boarded the plane my stomach sounded like an Asteroids game. The good news was: I got upgraded. The bad news: I was in 1C, which is an aisle in the very first row. Every person boarding the plane heard crazy noises coming from my stomach, and saw the look of fear on my face. At that point I actually thought about getting off the plane and leaving in the morning, but who wants to schlep through the airport again? Besides, I had gotten upgraded.

After we took off I practically keeled over in my seat. I don’t know how to say this pleasantly, but the air pressure caused me to have some serious bad gas. All I wanted to do was go in the bathroom and let out the demons. The seat belt sign seemed to take forever to turn off. But I took the pain, because I’m not one of those rude people who just lets it fly from the seat and keeps a straight face. Don’t you hate that?

What was crazy (and now funny, because I can look back) is that after my first two bathroom visits my gas mysteriously vanished. Of course, as soon as I sat down it came back, and I was ready to erupt again. I should’ve just turned around and sat on the toilet, but I have some issues with airplane seats. Besides, if I kept using the lavatory the flight crew and/or passengers would think I was a terrorist.

Luckily, three times was the charm. I smiled in the mirror. My life was saved!

My flight landed 30 minutes, early so I arrived real tired at 5:41 a.m. The sky was just starting to lighten up. I had not checked bags, so I followed the signs to the new Air Train, which takes passengers between JFK and the Jamaica or Howard Beach stations. From there passengers can connect to Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) trains, New York City Transit subways and local buses.

Because I was traveling by myself and not in a hurry, I decided to give AirTrain a shot. My goal was to get to Grand Central Terminal as cheaply as possible. A taxi would have cost me $55 (NYC rates went up 26% this week). AirTrain was only $7. Now that is tough to beat!

Taking the AirTrain to Jamaica Station was fast and easy. Just a few other passengers (including airport workers) were riding in the early morning. I asked one of them where to pay, and they all responded politely. Who says New Yorkers aren’t friendly? You pay when you get off, using a Metro Card. Unlike BART in San Francisco, Metro Card machines are easy to use, and there are plenty of them just before the exit in Jamaica Station.

The journey took 10 minutes, and cost $5. I thought that was pretty steep, especially for commuters, but it turns out they can buy a monthly pass for $40.

The next leg, to Grand Central from Jamaica Station, was a bit long and confusing. The cheapest and fastest way was the E Train (subway). After following signs that took me down a steep escalator and outside to the old station, I used $2 off my Metro Card to get me through the turnstile. I waited five minutes, then rode the E Train for 35 minutes to 53rd and Lexington Ave. (on Manhattan’s East Side).

Here’s a tip: Take a right out of the train (I took a left and had to backtrack). Walk up the stairs and follow signs to transfer to the 6 subway. Walk a couple of blocks underground to the 51st Street station (the transfer is free).

Five minutes later, the downtown 6 took me one stop to Grand Central Terminal. I made it! Next time will be much easier -- but it would be even better if there was a nonstop from Grand Central to JFK.

From Grand Central Terminal I took the train out to Connecticut. I arrived at 8:02 a.m. in Rowayton, as tired as one can be. If I had fallen asleep, I would have been ruined for the week. So I fought off jet lag all day. Tennis was easy, but church was tough. Fortunately it was the first beautiful day of the year. There was plenty of sunlight -- which is jet lag’s kryptonite.

It’s was so nice to be back East on a such nice spring day. Everything was so fresh, clean and colorful, with all the flowers sprouting. Everyone was smiling, because their long winter was over. I had a great day, but the highlight was dining at Rowayton Pizza with my sister Georgette, brother-in-law Cam, and my friends Jason and Josie and their new boy Theo. When the sun went down, I was back on the train.

I was in NY for the annual TravelCom conference. This is geared toward top executives in marketing and distribution. It’s a great conference for people (like me) in the online travel business, because all the major travel companies are represented and the networking is amazing. On top of that, there are plenty of very interesting sessions.

My favorite session was a presentation by Henry Harteveldt. He works at Forrester Research, and is up on all the latest travel trends. At another session I learned that consumers will soon see travel companies partnering with dating sites. That’s going to be the new craze. I guess people want to meet someone online, then really meet them (if you know what I mean) in some remote place where no one knows who they are. Sounds crazy to me.

During the two-day conference I met a lot of nice people. But I spent most of my time hanging out with the crew from client SmarterLiving.com, and my buddy David from VRXStudios. One night he and I went to a party thrown by PJ Inc., a PR firm with some big travel clients. What an office they have! The view of midtown was amazing. The best part was their blackjack table, sponsored by their client Vegas.com. Even with fake money, I still lost my shirt.

The following night David, the SL Crew and my cousin A.J. went to dinner at a great Italian family-style restaurant, Carmine’s on 44th. It’s in the heart of the theatre district, so if you’re not seeing a show and don’t want to wait long, make sure to go after 7:30 p.m. and before 9:30. The place is huge -- and so are the portions and menus. Actually, they don't hand out menus; they just hang them on the wall.

We ordered way too much food, but somehow managed to put it all away. And speaking of huge: Check out our dessert. It was appropriately called the Titanic, and is one of the biggest banana splits you’ll ever see. Luckily, we had a pregnant woman with us. Leslie (who will kill me for writing about her) is seven months pregnant. After dinner none of us could move, but Leslie had a craving for dessert. As a joke, we ordered the biggest thing they had. I don't know how she managed, but don’t ever bet a pregnant woman that they can’t finish something. Leslie polished it off like it was a kiddy scoop. Carmine’s, 200 W. 44th St., New York (between 7th & 8th Avenues); tel.: (212) 221-3800.

From NY I flew on USAir to a secret location. I will tell you all about it next week. Okay, here’s a hint: I have been there many times, and I had to fly on two planes (one was a prop). Hmmmm… I wonder where that could be?

Happy Travels,

Johnny Jet

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  • Just wanted to tell you that I went to Pink's hot dog stand while I was in LA. I actually dragged my whole family there! Anyway, we liked it! And the time to go is on a Monday around 2pm.. no line! it was pretty cool! But my best friends suffered from the same thing as Amber Airplane about 30 minutes later... Next time I visit we are going to try Roscoe's for the chicken and waffles.. the family is VERY curious... Anyway, just thought I'd share with you! Great newsletter again! Thanks as always! Tracey R. - Stamford, CT

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Why low-price guarantees rarely deliver the lowest price
Spend an afternoon listening to the various speakers at last week's Travel Commerce Conference and Expo in New York City, and one thing is immediately evident. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of travel providers, agents, and marketers out there vying for your travel dollars. And this year, their number one marketing tool is the so-called lowest price guarantee, particularly on accommodations. Unfortunately for consumers, these guarantees rarely live up to their promises. Click Here To Read Article

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