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120x60 - Hotels JOHNNY JET'S
October 20, 2004
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    Just what the online travel world needs: another travel search engine that doesn't find the lowest fares. Kayak was created by the founders of Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity to establish what they claim is "a leadership position in online travel search." Well, I think they need to reevaluate their position, because after doing a simple search on their just-launched beta release for a flight from LAX to ORD on 10/26/04, returning two days later, the cheapest Kayak found was a $384 R/T fare on Delta. If you use Kayak you may be up the creek without a paddle. I went to the JohnnyJet.com homepage, put in those same cities and dates, and out popped a $208 R/T fare. Since I have downloaded SideStep (it searches along side the travel providers) and I found a round trip fare on American for $184.

    Since that Website of the Week wasn't too good, here's a bonus site: Wififreespot.com. The Wi-Fi-FreeSpot is a directory listing of Wi-Fi enabled locations around the U.S. and the world. Whether you're a local resident, a business traveler or a vacationer just passing by, this directory will help you find all types of Free Wi-Fi locations. They list everything from cafes, restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, downtown business districts, malls, retail stores, RV parks to airports, hotels, vacation rental properties -- even laundromats and auto repair shops! All are open to guests, customers and/or the general public. If you find a spot that no longer offers free service, or stumble on a new one, just email the site; they'll make the appropriate update.
HOUSE KEEPING: Remember when you click on the pictures in "Where's Johnny Jet," they will open up in another window. Just click the "x"(close) in each picture to get back to the newsletter. This should alleviate complaints about closing Johnny Jet. Thanks again for your support, and remember: If you book trips on the web, please go through johnnyjet.com (we get a commission and it doesn't cost you any more money). "If you want Johnny Jet to continue I need your support and the support of your fellow travelers".

Greetings! Last week I wrote about my trip back from the Midwest, and my time home in Los Angeles. The highlight was hanging out with my dad, and going to the ballparks. Speaking of baseball: How unbelievable is the Yankees-Red Sox series?! I can't take it anymore. I just hope the Yankees close them out. If they lose, I will never ever hear the end of it. Before I tell you about this week’s journey, though, be sure to check out our new hotel and air search boxes on our homepage. They’re so awesome: They allow you to search multiple sites while typing only cities and dates once.

The reason I wasn’t too sad to see my dad go home to Connecticut was because a few days later I flew there myself. The day I left, I got up so early it was still dark out. I took the first flight from LAX to JFK, and flew United. I got upgraded – yeah, baby! They served us two meals in First: breakfast and lunch. I never understand this. The flight to NY is only 4 ½ hours, but they serve meals an hour after takeoff and an hour before landing. Who’s really hungry for the second meal? But did I turn it down? Of course not. I think I’m a foodaholic. For breakfast I had tasty apple pancakes, while lunch was red pepper chicken soup and a small wilted salad. The meal was light, and it wouldn’t have been so bad except they came around with those delicious Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie with over 67 grams of fat. Yummmm! It was so good -- until we hit serious turbulence (we were landing in the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne). Then it didn’t set too well.

My buddy Mike picked me up in the pouring rain—what a nice guy, huh? I had a bag of Halloween candy bars left over. The gate agents refused to take them (claiming they were on diets). You know what happened next. I pulled them out of my luggage and threw them on Mike’s lap. He thought about opening, then said "thanks, but no thanks." I threw them on the back seat. A mile down the road we both looked back at the bag and said, "Who are we kidding?" I quickly ripped it open. We both tried to hold back, but it was too hard to say no. Mike turned into a candy monster, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. For the rest of the ride we just chatted and popped one after another into our mouths. By the time we reached Connecticut the bag was empty, and the floor was full of candy wrappers. Can you believe we ate them all?!

It took an hour to get to Connecticut, and by the end we were coming down from our sugar highs. Jouncing through the puddles didn’t make us feel any better. Although this storm was just the tail end of Hurricane Jeanne, check out what it did to my brother’s street. Amazing, huh? The good news is the storm didn’t last long, and the skies (and streets) cleared.

I was in Connecticut to help my dad move out of his condo. Moving is so much fun, isn’t it? Of course, it wasn’t all work. In fact, late one afternoon my brother Frank called me up and told me to hurry over-- we were going into NYC on a double date with Cricket (his girlfriend) and Jen (her colleague/friend). I had never met her, but Frank said she was really cool and pretty. Plus, she was a veterinarian, so she was smart. Did you know vet school is tougher to get into than med school? Go figure.

I usually don’t go on blind dates, but I trust my brother’s judgment. When my dad dropped me off at Frank’s house, Frank told him to stick around and meet my date. Of course, my dad obliged. Since I hadn’t brought dressy clothes with me, I had to pilfer something from Frank’s closet while he was in the shower. I was looking for red and white garments, because at the last minute Frank found out the party had a "Red and White" theme. I didn’t find any red or white clothes, so I wore all black. Our dates didn’t know it was a red or white party, so we were all dressed like we were off to a club.

Jen was the first to arrive. I was upstairs, Frank was still in the shower and my dad was downstairs on the computer. I thought I heard him say my name to her, and wondered why he did that. Wouldn’t you know it -- while we were in the car driving to NYC, Jen said, "Your dad is really funny. When I walked in, he greeted me with a big smile and said, ‘Hi, I’m Johnny." I nearly spit out my gum. She said, "For a second there I thought, ‘What has Cricket got me into?’" Is my dad hilarious or what?

The Red and White party was at the Doubles Club. It’s on Fifth Avenue, directly across from the Plaza Hotel. It was a Wednesday -- a typical weeknight for the young socialite crowd. Luckily not everyone was dressed in the theme colors, but of course they were all dressed to "the nines." We were way out of place in our casual clothes. Frank and I didn’t have jackets, and our dates were in jeans. When we walked in the stuffy place I thought for sure the music would stop. It didn’t, but we were welcomed with plenty of obnoxious dirty looks. We only knew one other couple, though, so we really didn’t care.

It cost $75 a head. That’s not bad for NYC, but for a Wednesday night it’s kind of steep. The price included an open bar and full dinner buffet. The appetizers and entrees were very good, and dessert was even better. After my first trip to the bar I could see what was going on. This party was just a way for singles to meet. It was a bunch of successful women looking to meet rich guys (and vice versa). It was a high class pickup joint, with more women than men. It was good Frank and I had dates, because the way we were dressed we would’ve been talking to ourselves all night in the corner.

The funniest thing was the DJ was playing good music and there was a dance floor, but no one danced. By the looks of the crowd I knew it would stay that way -- which was probably a good thing. Have you ever been to a party with a bunch of WASPy people dancing? It’s not a pretty sight. No dancing is actually good for me, because I dance like the Tin Man. What’s even worse is that I think I dance like MC Hammer (another not pretty sight). Unfortunately, my brother -- fun guy that he is -- gets up and says, "Let’s go dance." I thought, "What are you, nuts? There’s no one dancing!" I gave him a few quick "no" headshakes, but that didn’t stop him. As I was dragged onto the dance floor I mouthed to him, "I’m going to kill you." The only time I like to dance is when it’s very dark and there are tons of people on the dance floor (so I can get lost in the middle). But the place was bright and the floor was completely empty. We were the only freaks dancing. I was so embarrassed that people probably thought I had painted my face red for the party.

After I while I loosened up and got my groove on. We danced all night, even though we were the only ones besides our friend Sammy and his girlfriend. It was too funny. It got even funnier when the girls started freaking me (dancing really close from both sides) on the dance floor. I thought for sure I would have a heart attack -- or the crowd watching us would. Doubles Club: 783 5th Ave., New York; tel.; (212) 751-9595.

Back in Connecticut, I spent most of my time with my dad and other family members. We ate every meal out. One of the highlights was finding a great Thai restaurant in South Norwalk. It’s called Papaya Thai, has a really nice interior, and is across from the Maritime Center . They not only serve Thai food (the curry chicken penang makes me want to go back to Thailand, but they also have a sushi bar. Papaya Thai & Asian BBQ: 24 Marshall St., Norwalk, CT; tel.: (203) 866-8424.

Another good restaurant in Norwalk is Italia Pizzeria on Main Avenue. The place doesn’t have the most desirable location or atmosphere, but the Italian food is excellent and it’s reasonably priced. In fact, the rigatoni Napolitano is prepared just the way my grandmother used to make it. As she used to say: "Mangia! Mangia!" Italia Pizzeria Restaurant: 285 Main Ave., Norwalk, CT; tel.: (203) 846-2555.

Next week, we’ll take our first spin on Song Airlines. It’s run by Delta, and I’ll tell you all about my experience and next destination. I’ll give you a clue: It’s 1,100 miles from New York City.

Happy Travels,

Johnny Jet
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  • *If you heard about us somewhere else or have the link to the story please email Johnny Jet media and let us know where!
  • Loved the newsletter, but I always do. It's like a chat with an old friend. Keep traveling and including me in your mailing list. It brightens my day when I stuck at the computer at work. Mary L - New Market, MD
  • I do love all the pictures and stories from America. Hanna - Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Love your newsletter..as a 3 Million Miler on delta, and about that on United, I can relate to your stories very well. Keep up the good work..and travel safe.. David M - Orlando area
  • Great stuff.! Nice hottie with your cousin Dennis. Jim Bob - Nebraska
  • Dear Johnny: Your weekly newsletter was great. I especially enjoyed the pictures of that very handsome gray haired fellow you refer to as your father. But can it be? He seems much too young to be your father.Did you have to pay him to model for those pictures? Seriously, your writing continues to improve. I find it interesting and riveting. Little did I know or appreciate your talent when you were a little guy. Keep it up!.You are doing a wonderful job. Dad
  • I am a loyal reader of your newsletter and just finished reading your Sept. 15, 2004 edition--I 'm a little behind but am catching up fast! I went to New York to visit my mother's cousin in Queens and visited a few of the places you mentioned in the newsletter. I went to the same Harry's Burrito location you did (on Columbus Ave.). I think I liked it more than you did but that's probably in large part because I am a vegetarian and Harry's has so many choices (soy beef, tofu sour cream) for vegetarians. I absolutely adore Central Park. As a native Southern Californian, I think that parks is the one area Los Angeles needs to improve. I like that you included in your website a tribute to your mother and I can empathize, since I lost my mother in 1996 and I was very close with her. My mother grew up in Manhattan and went to Hunter College. She frequently joked that the hospital she was born in, the name slips my mind, is now a mental institution. But she always talked about how she loved the city. I know she is reading your newsletters in spirit since she loved traveling and would like the fact that you are a "mensch" (a Yiddish word roughly translated as a gentleman, a person with a kind heart). I wish you the best as you continue your life and will look forward to your newsletters. Jason P - Whittier, CA
  • Johnny Jet! I'm mad at you for listing the Stinking Rose in your newsletter! I've been dying to go there and now it'll be super crowded! ;-) I know you love good food, so have you been to the Little Door in West Hollywood? We just went there recently (a group of 10 people) and had a wonderful 4 hour dinner (no kidding). The food and ambiance is top notch! You've got to try it if you haven't already. Amy C. - Los Angeles P.S. GO RED SOX!!!!
  • Next time your in Western Michigan, stop by St. Joseph at a very interesting store, ours. It's a throwback to what business used to be in the true entrepreneurial spirit. We're located 4 miles north of downtown St. Joe. We also have one of the best northern Italian restaurants in the US right here. It's called Tosis. You must try it, you'll love it. Les Turk - Benton Harbor Michigan

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Booking a car on Hertz by David Rowell The Travel Insider
I had an interesting experience when booking a rental car with Hertz for my time in NZ. I like Hertz and generally rent their cars, and decided for the first time to try booking through their website.

I can't be sure about this, but I think it was initially quoting moderately high rates. I browsed some other web sites, then returned back to Hertz, and that time found a good rate for a nice car - NZ$541.13, and so decided to book it.

I then keyed my Number 1 Club Gold membership number into their system. I expected this might give me some sort of discount, and so imagine my surprise when the rate leapt up a massive 28% after entering my No.1 Club number.

This raises two questions. First of all, is the Hertz website so clever that it first offers a moderately high rate, but if someone doesn't take advantage of that rate, does it then come back with a lower rate in response to a subsequent request? I can't be sure this happened, but think it did. This might sound fanciful, but it is certainly within the realm of technology.

Secondly, and with no ambiguity about this, why does Hertz increase its rate 28% when I identify myself? Does my No.1 club profile have the word 'sucker' on it?

To check this is truly what happened, I made the rate request a third time, on a second computer that Hertz could not recognize as mine, and then had - side by side - two computer screens showing these two very different rates.

Hertz said they'll investigate this strange behavior.

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