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New York City has one of, if not the best public transportation in the world. However, every New Yorker knows that the city is missing two key rail routes-- from the city airports: LaGuardia (LGA) and John F. Kennedy (JFK) to Manhattan. Before this week arriving JFK passengers didn't have many options getting to the city from the airport. But after a long delayed, 1.9 billion dollar project, a major void was filled when the JFK airport in Queens finally received a rail system called AirTrain.
AirTrain has 8.1 miles of track that connects the Jamaica Station and Howard Beach Station to all eight JFK airline terminals, rental car lots, and long term/employee parking 24 hours a day. The cost of a one-way fare is $5 and monthly passes are available for $40. Unfortunately, AirTrain will not take passengers directly from JFK to Manhattan, but it will make the commute a lot quicker, easier and cheaper-- especially during rush hour. From Jamaica Station passengers can transfer to either three New York City subway lines E, J, and Z), the Long Island Rail Road(LIRR), and a dozen city buses. From Howard Beach passengers can connect to the A line.
Passengers headed to Manhattan have two options. They can pay $11.75 to take the AirTrain to the Jamaica Station and transfer to the LIRR which stops at Penn Station in midtown Manhattan. Total commute time around 35 minutes. Or they can take the AirTrain to the Howard Beach Station and take the A train to 125th Street station in Manhattan. Total cost $7 and the commute time is around 85 minutes. To put in perspective how inexpensive this is, the cost of a one-way cab fare from JFK to Manhattan is about $40 (depends on how much you tip). You can pay by using the MTA MetroCard.
The new trains are fast, smooth, quiet and are heated and/or air conditioned. The Port Authority expects more than 34,000 people a day to use the Air Train. To make travel smooth for passengers there are wide escalators and large glass enclosed elevators, and moving walkways to airline terminals. The Port Authority which runs the AirTrain is examining the potential of baggage check-in and airline ticketing at Jamaica Station.
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Merry Christmas everyone!. (Those links are Christmas cards. Make sure your speaker is on and turned up.)
Thursday is the big day -- and I’m here in Chicago freezing my tail off. If you are in the Chicago area and watching the tube tonight (December 23), tune to Channel 11. I will be doing a show called "Chicago Tonight" at 7:00 PM.
Last week I left off in Erie, PA. From there, I took the Anderson Shuttle (they finally answered the phone) to the Cleveland airport. I thought this picture was pretty funny. As I looked out the window I noticed our bus passing the Greyhound bus, which was also bound for Cleveland. The difference is that Anderson Shuttle not only goes directly to the airport, but is cleaner and much less crowded (no one is ever on it). It leaves twenty minutes later, yet it still arrives ahead of Greyhound (because Greyhound makes additional stops).
I was headed to Vega$ via Chicago, and guess what? Chicago was having bad weather (again) and my flight was delayed by an hour. That meant I missed the last flight to Las Vegas by thirty minutes. Don't feel bad; it was my own fault. The airline agent when I booked the ticket warned me I was taking a chance by having only a 30-minute connection. I didn't care too much though, because my cousin Dennis, who I was with the day before in Erie, was back home on the North Shore of Chicago. He was kind enough to pick me up right away at O'Hare.
This could not have worked out better, because it turned out that Dennis was also headed to Vegas the following morning. He was going for the Luxury Travel Expo which I didn't even know was taking place (until he told me). Even though Dennis and I were on different airlines, I rescheduled my flight within ten minutes of his. That night I ate a tasty pizza that his wife Sheridan made, and played "Monster" with their kids. (I turn out all the upstairs lights and hide somewhere. The kids have to find me, and every time I scare them so bad, they almost faint).
The following morning Dennis and I drove to ORD and parked in long-term parking. (It cost $13 a day including tax). Finding a parking spot was a real nightmare, but luckily we were in a small car and squeezed in between two SUVs that were parked over the divider lines. Don't you hate that? It was so tight I had to climb out the window. Then we hopped on the train that takes passengers from the parking lot to the terminals. It's easy and relatively quick.
The four-hour flight to Vegas went by fast. I watched the movie “Seabiscuit” and worked on my laptop. I love arriving at the Vegas airport, especially the new Terminal D --it's really nice. It's so clean and modern that it just makes you feel good. Combined with the sounds of winning slot machines and of course you can feel excitement in the air. I often wonder if the airport pumps in those sounds of winning slot machines just to get more people to gamble.
When Dennis and I met each other at the LAS airport he said, "You know, this is the third day in a row I’ve seen you -- and in three different cities.” That’s pretty cool, eh? Then we parted ways. He was staying at the Venetian, and I was at the MGM (because that's where Amber Airplane was). She came in the night before to hang out with friends.
Amber Airplane and I were in Vegas to attend SpikeTV's video game awards. I know video game awards sound pretty pathetic, but they weren't too bad. The great seats and all-access pass that got us backstage and into the after-party really helped. We were invited by our good ol' Southern friend, Joe Lewis. Joe’s mother was in town from the other "L-A" (Lower Alabama, as he calls it), and we sat next to her. She was really funny, just like her son.
If you saw the show, you’ll know they had a bunch of Star Wars characters running around. Amber Airplane and I were fortunate to get our picture taken with some of the storm troopers. One of the funniest moments happened when Amber Airplane went to the ladies room. Big time troublemaker cousin Dennis tapped one of the D.O.A. girls (Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball for the Xbox video game) on the shoulder (she was one of the award presenters) and said, "Would you mind taking a picture with my cousin Johnny Jet?" I was standing there thinking, “You got me -- I can't back out now, and I think Amber Airplane will probably not be very happy about this.” We also met the nicest guy in television: Matt from the “Joe Schmo Show.” He truly is a nice guy who is from Pittsburgh, and when he found out my sister Carol lives in Erie, he thought that was cool.
Next we went to the after-party at Studio 54, a night club in the MGM that is modeled after the famous ‘70s club in New York. The food they served was awesome and the drinks were served in Spike TV glow-in-the dark blue cups.The place was rockin' and all I can tell you is Studio 54 was a lot of fun. They had some very attractive girls dancing in cages, and even some swinging from the ceiling. Of course, being Vegas; Elvis was spotted on the dance floor. He wasn't hired, the dude just goes out like that--funny huh?
The next morning, instead of going home to L.A., cousin Dennis talked us into staying another night at his hotel and attend the Luxury Travel Expo. He didn't have to talk too long because we knew he had a big suite in the new Venezia tower at the fabulous Venetian Hotel. Did you spot the new Treasure Island sign in the background of the picture. Is that the ugliest sign you’ve ever seen? Well, the Venetian is an amazing hotel. You need to go just to see the lobby. Dennis' suite was sweet but finding the room was like going through a huge maze. Even the elevators were hard to spot. I also didn't like the lack of a fitted bottom sheet for the mattress. Whenever hotels do that I wake up on some nasty mattress.
Like a lot of people I sometimes get the itch to gamble, but I never risk more than a few bucks. Fortunately I usually leave Las Vegas with more money than I come with, but not this time. I lost my $100 cash allowance pretty quickly. As you may know, most casino ATM machines charge a $3 surcharge (my bank charges an extra $1.50). I didn't want to spend $4.50 just to get more cash. It’s the principle of the thing -- not because I’m cheap. Well, okay, maybe I am cheap. Needless to say, I was done gambling for this trip.
The worst part was that I had a feeling my number (31) was about to come out on the roulette wheel, and I didn't have any money to put down. Usually when I get that feeling, it's right. So instead of heading straight to the ATM I thought I would be slick, and go into the gift shop to buy the cheapest, most practical thing I could find. I grabbed a small bottle of water, held it up to the cashier and pointed. He said it was $2.50. I thought, “Damn, that's not cheap!” But at least I would get something for my money if they gave me cash back. I asked if I could pay for the water with my ATM check card and get cash back. The cashier said “We don't do ‘cash back’” with attitude. So I replied -- with attitude - “Then I don't do $2.50 small bottles of water.” I put the overpriced water back in the fridge and walked out. The really worst part? Yep: I walked by the roulette table, and guess what number was on the screen? That's right: 31. I felt sick to my stomach for the rest of the night (actually, it was just an hour, but after writing this my pains have returned).
Speaking of gambling, I thought you’d get a kick out this slot machine. BTW: Amber Airplane loves to play the slots, especially the nickel machines. I thought the nickel machines were kind of cool, until I found out that you can lose more money playing the nickel machines than the $1 machines. Did you know that if you played the max bet on some of those multi-line slot machines you could (“would” is more likely) lose $20 on one spin? Is that crazy or what?
The Venetian was packed with trade show people. So Amber Airplane and I followed the crowd to the registration booth and got a press pass for each of us. The first stop on the exhibition floor was to see my buddies John Dekker and Jean-Louis at FlyTahiti.com. On the way over, we were stopped by some choir boys who serenaded Amber Airplane as she strolled by their Celebrity Cruises booth. It was pretty funny as this was the last thing she expected. Somehow, I think cousin Dennis had something to do with it?
I learned a lot from the show -- especially that luxury travel is going strong like I thought, but it was nice to speak to some of the top people in luxury travel industry and get that affirmation. I also saw plenty of old friends, and met some new ones. I even ran into my good friend Peter Greenberg from the Today Show as well as other NBC network programs. He is the superstar in the travel biz. I am pleased to tell you that I now write a web site of the week for Peter's web site. Be sure to check it out, TravelNewsToday.com. The best booth had to be Singapore Airlines'. They brought in an eighteen-wheeler truck with seats from their Business and First Class cabins. I can't wait to try those bad boys out!
Going through the Singapore Airlines booth put us all in the mood for some Asian cuisine. We were seated at a big round table and the Cantonese food at the Royal Star Restaurant, one of the Venetian’s fine dining eateries was pretty tasty. I love those Lazy Susan spinning tables that let all of us share and provide a few laughs, too. When it came time for the bill, we played a nerve-racking game. We put the bill on the table, and asked the waiter to spin it. Thank God it didn't stop in front of me... or Amber Airplane! So I guess after all we did come out a winner!.
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This picture I took is on the legendary "Road to Hana". If you haven't been there, it is the must lush, beautiful and winding road I've ever seen. The best way I can describe it is, its as if nature threw up, with long vines, bamboo trees, large and unique trees, small brush and the some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. This picture, in particular, is just off of the road. A steep and slippery trail lead down the side of a cliff, just across from a beautiful waterfall, that dropped 200 feet or more. The road snaked just above the waterfall, out of the picture. Almost all of the drivers on the road zipped passed this hidden gem, unaware of its existence, looking for smaller and more crowded waterfalls, but my wife and I knew better. We got the Ultimate Maui Guidebook. An invaluable resource for a Maui vacation. Stephen Bennett - Boston
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Jesse James Wannabes Take to Idaho Range
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The twelve deals of Christmas |
While the twelve days of Christmas don't "officially" start until December 25, we couldn't resist starting early. We decided to have a little fun and took some liberties with the famous song to bring you our own version, "The twelve deals of Christmas." Click Here To Read Article
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