THIS WEEK'S JOHNNY JET 11/20/2002
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Tip Of The Week
WHAT NOT TO TALK ABOUT
WHAT'S YOUR DOMESTIC SERVICE LIKE?
Jet Captain ?'s
WHY DO THE PILOTS TELL US IN DETAIL ABOUT THE MECHANICAL PROBLEM
Good To Know!
HOW TO GET BUMPED
TRAVEL NEWS FROM THESE SOURCES
Los Angeles Times
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We started things off right when we scored BIG time with an Int'l First Class upgrade. How nice was that? It made the 10 hour flight go by almost too fast. All I wanted to do was watch movies, eat the gourmet food, play with my seat controls and enjoy the extra comfy oversized blanket and pillows. I knew I had to force myself to go to sleep for a few hours since we were going to be arriving at noon and I didn't want to be shot for the day. It actually took me a while to get used to laying flat on my belly on an airplane. I have been in Int'l First Class before, but never on the new sleeper seats that lay completely flat. When I finally was able to fall asleep, I could smell the aroma of breakfast, which meant we only had an hour or so before landing at LHR. I was like, "Come on Captain! Give me one more hour, please! Can't you circle a few times?
We arrived at Heathrow's Terminal 3, which is where the US airlines come in. (FYI: British Air's trans Atlantics arrive at terminal 4). Heathrow airport is huge and has so many International flights, that it's amazing to see all the foreign airlines that we don't normally see in the U.S. To get an idea of where the planes are coming from, check out this arrival screen . Isn't air travel just mind-boggling? Because we were lucky to be sitting in First or Business we were given a Fast Pass for Customs. I don't know how long the regular customs line takes, but the fast pass lived up to its name. We made it through in less than 3 minutes, and were at the ATM machine getting some Pounds a minute later. My advice to you is don't exchange money or bring travelers checks, because you will get ripped off on the conversion rates . Instead, use your ATM card when you get off the plane, but just make sure your pin number is 4 digits. I also highly recommend using your credit card for most of your purchases. Just check with your credit card company before hand to make sure they don't charge you extra for foreign purchases. Speaking of money: The Brits don't use the highly publicized Euro, they still use the Pound and Pence. And one more thing, coming to England is no bargain for Americans because £1 (Pound) = $1.59 (at press time). Ouch!
We were at Heathrow for no more than 10 minutes, because they make it so easy to leave. We were headed to Hammersmith to the Novotel West London hotel so we took the Tube's Picadilly Line . Everyone who rides the tube for the first time will find themselves imitating the conductor, either uncontrollably out loud or in their head by repeating " Mind The Gap ". If you are going into central London, The Tube is much cheaper than the other train, which is the new high-speed Heathrow express . Heathrow Express only takes 15 minutes, but it will set you back £11.70. The Tube takes about 45 minutes, makes all the local stops but will only costs around 5 Pounds for a day pass, depending on which zones you travel. Since we arrived after 9:30 AM, we bought off-peak day passes that are valid for travel the rest of the day. The peak passes go up to £10.50 for all zones 1-6. If you are only going to be on the tube for that one ride, then buy a one-way ticket. For adult fares, click here . You most likely will only being traveling only in zone 1 and 2 for sightseeing, but if you are going to or from the airports you will need one for zones 1-6. Here's a tube map to show you the zones.
What I like best about the Tube is that the seats are comfortable and they have armrests to give you that extra space (everyone on the New York City subway wishes they had them). What I like the least, is that they are often far under ground, so the escalators are really steep which makes dragging luggage a bit more of a hassle. The tube pass is also good for busses that have a tube logo on the bus or at the particular bus stop. The Tube and the bus are the only way I get around London because it's convenient and cheap. Tube and bus maps should be available at any Underground station. If you would rather travel by those cool and spacious black cabbies it's going to cost you an arm and a leg; to get from Heathrow to central London it will cost about £43.00 and you have to deal with traffic.
As I said in last week's newsletter, we arrived in London just in time for England's first fire Brigades (fighters) strike in 25 years. That made traveling on the Tube a bit more challenging because they closed a lot of the stations and the trains were delayed considerably. But we didn't care, since we were on vacation. Take note that there is a good chance that they will strike again, and so are the workers at the main airports (including Heathrow and Gatwick). They have announced a series of six one day strikes on Nov 28, Dec- 2, 10, 15, 23 and Jan - 2., but those dates may change, so keep up with the news at: London Times .
England follows Greenwich Mean Time, which is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Which means when it's noon in NY, its 5 PM in London. Since the time change from L.A. is 8 hours, getting adjusted to the time can be rough, unless you do it right. I always set my watch to the local destination time upon take off. My secret is not to take a nap when we land. I just try to hold out until normal local bedtime; otherwise I'm in for a world of trouble. Because once I get into a cycle, it's hard for me to break out. I was able to hold out until midnight and we were sound asleep until we had an unwelcome phone call at 2:30 am. That just ruined us, it messed up our cycle and we couldn't fall back to sleep for hours and when we did, we ended up waking up at noon. Can you believe NOON! What a waste of a morning.
Oh, by the way we met my cousin
Dennis and his son Willem
from Chicago at our hotel.
Navigating around London is pretty easy as long as you have a map handy. They also make it tourist friendly with well marked street signs all around. Not only that, since the English drive on the "wrong side" of the road a lot of the touristy areas paint this sign on the ground . Good thing because I almost got picked off a couple of times. I asked Amber Airplane where she wanted to go first and what do you think she said? That's right... Harrods . Shocker. At Harrods all of the windows are decorated for Christmas and this year's theme is A Christmas to Thrill . A James Bond 007 theme. Every window is decorated in one of the James Bond movie theme. Harrods does have some strict rules, like not being allowed to wear shorts, wear ripped or take photographs. Actually, there is one place you are allowed to take a photo and thatís at the memorial on the ground floor of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed (his father owns Harrods). Harrods has to be the largest department store ever. It's amazing. The store is seperated by sections and has 7 floors. You can find everything in there from fine food to lingerie. And Amber Airplane seemed to find everything.
Harrods is located in Knightsbridge and Dennis and I were exhausted and starving from chasing Amber Airplane around the Harrods maze. Actually, Dennis is just as bad as Amber when it comes to shopping, and the only person I know who is worse is my sister Carol. I finally dragged the two of them out and if they weren't going to be closing in 5 minutes I might still be there. Let's give accolades to Mr. Fayed for not making it a 24-hour store. We walked down Brompton Street about 2 blocks until we came across this great old English pub called Bunch Of Grapes . This is a fine place for a pint or fish-n- Chips, which is what Amber Airplane and Dennis had. I opted for the other local favorite, which was the pie of the day: steak, served with mashed potatoes and peas and carrots (it was sooo good). Speaking of food, I stopped by one of the fruit stands on the street and I tried two fruits I have never seen before. A Chinese pear and a custard apple. It's pretty safe to say that after 2 bites of the pear and half of one from the apple that I will never have either again.
Shopping all day ensured that we had a good night's rest, which meant we could finally eat the continental breakfast that was included in our hotel room. We upgraded for £5.50 pounds so we could enjoy the full english buffet , and that's what we did. The food at our hotel was great and you have to love how the English all have baked beans as one of their side dishes.
After breakfast we watched the best tourist event in England and
itís free. Watching the
Changing of the Guard
takes place outside Buckingham Palace at 11:30 AM (everyday between
April to August, then every other day). In November it takes place
on odd dates, which means we saw it on Nov 15. The ceremony lasts
40 minutes and takes place inside the palace railings. The Queen's
Guard, accompanied by a band, leaves Wellington Barracks at 11:27 AM and
march via Birdcage Walk to the Palace. Changing the Guard is only cancelled
in very wet weather. The nearest underground stations are Victoria,
St. James's Park and Green Park. For more information, check out the
London Tourist Board
Well you know I'm not going to be able to squeeze everything about this trip into this newsletter, so the other half of our London trip, including which plays we went to see, and what we did will be in next week's newsletter.MEDIA ALERT
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WHAT'S NEW IN
JET CAPTAINS QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
I travel a lot on business. While flying from Atlanta to Phila, the captain, upon reaching his cruising altitude, decided to inform everyone why the flight had been delayed--the stabilizer needed to be repaired and then the crew flew the plane back to pick up the passengers "once we were sure it was flight-worthy." I really did not want or need to hear that especially as part of a captive audience at 26,000 feet! Any special reason that he felt compelled to share or do you think that he was just being sadistic?
SKYGUY QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
At the airline that you work for, what is the service on domestic flights?
Travel Celebrity Q&A:
Guide Book Writer: Julie Fanselow
TIP OF THE WEEK:
From The Hobotraveler.com
NEVER TALK ABOUT
I was told this 20 years ago in Mexico. I can say that this is still good advice when traveling in 98 percent of world countries.
It is dangerous to ask questions and talk about these 2 subjects in most countries of the world. The world is full of inconsistencies, ambiguities, and unclear behavior. Talking about these truths just makes people nervous and angry.
I would recommend that you ask very simple and misleading questions about religion and politics. Make no comment. Go home and write a book. or publish in a webpage.
PLAN YOUR ESCAPE...
LOS ANGELES TIMES
mileage devaluations ahead
GOOD TO KNOW!
Bumping Your Way To Free (And More Comfortable) Travel (From BestFares)
Agree (or volunteer) to give up your confirmed seat and the airline may reward you with consolation prizes that can include: an upgraded seat on the next flight out; between $300 and $700 in vouchers for future travel; free airport meals to keep you fed while you wait; and courtesy admission to the airline's airport club.
Approximately 21 of every 10,000 major airline passengers voluntarily agree to surrender their seats. If you want to increase your chance of being on an oversold flight, stay away from Southwest Airlines (their voluntary bump rate tends to be the lowest) and consider America West and US Airways, where your possibilities increase by about 50 percent.
You can -- within reason -- negotiate your compensation for voluntary bumping, keeping in mind that asking for too much can put you out of consideration. By Department of Transportation rules, if an airline gets you on another flight that gets you to your destination between one and two hours late, you must receive an amount equal to your one-way fare, up to $200 (payment by check). The airline can offer a voucher -- and usually will offer more in the form of a voucher than in cash -- but you can insist on a check. If you are scheduled to arrive more than two hours after your scheduled arrival, the required amount shifts to double your fare, to a maximum of $400. In both cases, you also get to keep your original ticket.
To qualify for voluntary bumping, you must have checked in at the gate within stated minimum check-in requirements. Compensation does not have to be paid on certain small jet flights, in cases where the airline replaces a big jet with a smaller one and in certain "act of God" situations, Full details are posted at www.dot.gov .
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