Month: August 2010

Three Random Musings – August 20, 2010

Thirty years ago yesterday, I took my first airplane ride.  I flew from RDU to DCA aboard an Eastern Air Lines DC-9 to visit my aunt and uncle.  Who knew I’d wind up living here? And who knew Eastern would now be out of business?  Five years and one month after that first airplane ride, I took my first flying lesson.  I was 15 years old. Seriously people, what else can an airline charge extra for? Sometimes I get bored with the airline mileage game, then I have to fly somewhere on an airline where I have no status.  Suddenly, I remember why I play the airline mileage...

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An Unsatisfying Response From American Airlines

OK, this is random, probably only meaningful to me (and MrsMJonTravel), and maybe even petty on my part.  But I felt like blogging about it.  If you think I’m being difficult, comment to the blog.  I’d love to hear alternative points of view. It’s probably a good idea to start this post with a little background.  I recently sent what I believe to be my 2nd complaint ever to American Airlines.  I wrote an actual letter, and faxed it to AA Customer Relations.  Long story short, I described my summer of travel problems at the hands of American (some within their control, some not), and I made a request.  Recognizing that American is under absolutely no obligation to do so, I kindly asked that they cancel a reservation I have for travel to Miami during the week of Thanksgiving, and refund the purchase price. Frankly, I don’t think American is currently running a reliable enough airline to reasonably assure an arrival in Miami somewhere near the scheduled time, and on this particular trip, I simply don’t have the luxury of risking it.  Yes, I know I could say this about any airline, but no other airline has so interrupted my travel plans on very important trips this summer.  So there you have it.  I didn’t really expect American to do what I asked, but I would certainly have been...

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Thoughts on American’s “Express Seats” Option

As I posted yesterday, American Airlines has added a new option to its “Your Choice” line of travel options.  With the introduction of Express Seats, travelers who do not fly enough to earn elite status can access better seats at the front of the cabin for a price ranging from $19 to $39 dollars. Bottom line, I’m fine with it.  I don’t have to pay the fee since I hold elite status on American.  But I can tell you, if I didn’t have that status, and found myself flying American, I’d certainly consider springing for this depending on the situation.  Not only do you get a better seat, but you also receive Group 1 boarding, and that may be one of the best things about elite status.  Assuring space for my carry on bag is a big deal, and it’s one I would at least consider paying a few bucks for (along with a better seat) from time to time. All that said, it’s hard not to wonder when the airlines are going to run out of things to charge for.  I do believe that there is a limit to what most of the traveling public will tolerate.  Apparently, we haven’t arrived there yet.  One thing for sure, when we get there, the airlines won’t figure it out until well after the rest of...

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Positive SkyMiles Changes

Blogged about by several, but I still wanted to comment.  Delta announced on their great blog on 8/17 that their previously announced plans to allow Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Medallion SkyMiles members to upgrade award tickets has been implemented.  This is just one of several real enhancements to the SkyMiles program, which you can review here.  Another change is that companion upgrades now begin clearing at 24 hours prior to departure, after all Medallion upgrades have cleared.  Still not as good as having your companion clear with you, but certainly better. I’ve posted many times about my affinity for Delta Air Lines, but my displeasure with Delta SkyMiles.  The changes they are making represent some improvement.  I hope the availability of award seats for premium class tickets at reasonable mileage levels improves as well.  Another change I’d love to see is the ability to redeem SkyMiles to upgrade from any coach fare.  From my perspective, the ability to upgrade using miles is a big plus, and I would like to have the ability to do so from any fare.  Delta should at least make this available to Medallions. Unless something happens, Delta will be the airline I fly most this year.  I’ll be watching as SkyMiles evolves, hopefully for the...

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American Adds Express Seats to Its Your Choice Lineup

American Airlines has joined a host of other airlines in making popular seats usually reserved for elite travelers available to the unwashed masses for a fee. If you purchase one of these seats, you also receive Group 1 boarding. Right now these seats are only available for purchase at self service check in machines. I would hope that AA is working on making this available at AA.com as well. Visit AA.com/yourchoice for more...

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JetBlue Flight Pass Back Again

This has been pretty widely blogged about, but since I first heard about it via a Tweet from Carol Margolis, she gets the hat tip.  JetBlue has reintroduced its “All You Can Jet” pass for fall travel.  Cost is $499 for flights on all days except Fridays and Sundays, and $699 for any day, the All You Can Jet pass is a neat marketing idea to gin up travel in the traditionally slow period following Labor Day.  The pass is good for travel for 30 days beginning September 7th, and is only available for purchase through Friday, or “while supplies last” so jump on...

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MJ on Travel is on Facebook

OK, this is actually my second attempt at this.  I’ve been tinkering on and off with a Facebook fanpage for the blog for a few months.  Right now, it’s just a way to follow blog content on Facebook.  In the future, perhaps it will be more.  In the meantime, if you’re on Facebook, become a fan of Marshall Jackson on...

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Thoughts on the Omni Charlotte

I’m not a big Omni Hotels guy.  I like (actually love) their hotels, but the chain just doesn’t have the reach that I need in number of properties and locations.  That said, I always enjoy the opportunity to stay at an Omni Hotel, and my recent 4-night stay at the Omni Charlotte was no different. My day job had selected the Omni Charlotte as the location for our annual manager’s meeting, and I could not be more pleased with the choice.  Downtown Charlotte (OK, they call it uptown) has really come a long way since my days as a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  Back in the day, the sidewalks rolled up at 5pm, and there was nothing to do downtown.  Not the case anymore!  While our days were filled with work, the options to entertain ourselves in the evenings in the immediate vicinity of the hotel were many. From check in to check out the staff was uniformly outgoing and friendly, which I suppose is to be expected in a southern city.  The room itself, a 6th floor King, was big and comfortable.  The big standard TV was a throwback to the 80’s but also an indication that the hotel may be nearing the need for an interior “refresh.”  Wireless internet was available throughout the hotel, and was complimentary due to my Omni Select...

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Marshall Jackson on Travel is on YouTube

Did you know MJonTravel is now on YouTube?  I barely knew myself.  There’s only one whopping video up there now, but I will post more video content from my travels going forward, and link you there from the blog when I do.  In the meantime, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel...

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Cruise Review – Celebrity Equinox

MrsMJonTravel and I recently completed an 11-night Mediterranean cruise aboard the downright gorgeous (IMHO) Celebrity Equinox.  There’s so much to say, and so much to write about that I just don’t think it’s possible to place it all in one post. Next time, I will blog each day of a cruise like this. The Cruise Our 11-night, July 5, 2010, sailing aboard Celebrity Equinox originated at the port of Civitavecchia, about 45 minutes outside of Rome.  The itinerary included stops in Santorini, Mykonos, Istanbul (2 days), Kusadasi (Ephesus), Athens, and Naples, along with 3 sea days.  We booked our cruise through our travel agent, Michelle, at McCabe World Travel in McLean, Virginia.  I can’t say enough about what a great asset an experienced travel agent can be on trips like this.  Michelle also arranged our private tour of Ephesus, which I will post about separately. Embarkation We arrived in Rome 5 days before the cruise to do some touring, and ultimately travel down to Naples where we would visit friends who were cruising with us.  We traveled with them by car back to Rome and Civitavecchia on embarkation day, so I am not able to share any insight into the transfer process from the airport to the port.  Arriving by car, you must park first, then take a shuttle bus to the terminal where you drop your luggage and accomplish...

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