NEW YORK -- Let's get this out there: I love New York. It's a great city with lots to do and lots of interesting people.
But visiting the New York Times Travel Show this weekend gave me plenty of ideas of where else to go. The show, in its 10th year, took up a good portion of the Jacob Javits Convention Center near Penn Station in Manhattan. I bumped into about a dozen Alaskans who were attending to coax travelers north this summer!
One of my favorite travelers, Johnny Jet, was a speaker at the show. In between seminars and trade-show-walking, we took a moment to reflect on the past year and make some predictions for 2013.
Q: What's your take on the current situation with the 787 Dreamliner being grounded by the FAA?
JJ: The latest information indicates the planes will be grounded until at least late January. These problems, and the costly fixes, mean the Dreamliner probably will not be profitable before 2020 as Boeing projected.
Q: You got married last year -- an event that was well-documented at your blog, JohnnyJet.com. Is marriage changing your hectic travel schedule?
JJ: I flew more last year than ever before, about 176,000 miles. After we got married, we flew off on Korean Air for a honeymoon in Bali.
Before the wedding, I could just pick up and go at a moment's notice. That's not the case anymore. Now I have a lovely wife -- so it goes something like this: "Hey baby, how would you like to go to Brazil next month?"
Of course, getting married changes things in so many ways. But having kids would change things even more dramatically. That's why I'm trying to do more international flying right now. Then if we have kids, I'll probably concentrate more on domestic travel in the short term.
Q: What are the top three international airlines in your book?
JJ: I love the staff at Air New Zealand. They do a great job, plus they have great commercials like "Nothing to Hide." I flew from New York to India with Qatar Airways. Their business lounge in Doha is over-the-top. And Singapore Airlines? They do a great job. Recently, I flew around the world on the carrier's super-jumbo A380s.
Q: I know you grew up around New York. What are some things you recommend for folks when they're visiting?
Another food tip: Don't miss the pizza at Don Filippo's, at 79th and Lexington (1133 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10075).
One of my favorite places just to sightsee is the Grand Central Terminal, which boasts the world's largest Tiffany clock -- over 14 feet in diameter. There are 68 shops and 35 dining options at the midtown terminal, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year.
The New York Public Library is a great destination. I didn't actually grow up in New York. Rather, I lived 42 miles away in Connecticut. But the library is one destination I visited often.
The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) is a great place to take a date. It's on the Upper East Side, right on Central Park.
And, of course, take in a New York Yankees game!
Q: What are the new "hot" destinations for 2013?
JJ: I think you'll hear more about Kangaroo Island in Australia this year. And Slovenia -- people are saying it's the "new Croatia." Finally, I know lots of people are headed to Burma next year. I haven't been there yet -- but watch for more stories as the country begins to accept more visitors.
Q: What are some trends that could affect the travel experience this year -- positive or negative?
JJ: I think the Global Entry initiative by the Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) is good. Travelers pay $100 for a five-year ticket to bypass the long lines at select airports when returning to the U.S. The bonus is that when you're approved, you're also approved for the "Pre Check" program with the TSA. (Anchorage now has a Pre Check fast security lane at the airport) If you have an American Express Platinum Card, you can go through the process and American Express will reimburse you.
Watch for more airlines to follow Delta's example of using both miles flown and dollars spent to access the top-tier frequent flyer benefits. Southwest and jetBlue already do that, as opposed to other airlines which only calculate miles flown.
New fees for carry-on luggage may be coming to more airlines. Both Allegiant and Spirit Airlines have instituted such fees in the U.S. -- and other airlines are watching.
Be sure and follow Johnny Jet on his travels around the world. We've talked about his itinerary for a return trip to Alaska, which is on his list.