MJ on Travel

Marshall Jackson is an aviation enthusiast and avid cruiser. After 10 years in the airline business, Marshall moved on to a new career that includes plenty of travel and plenty of cruises, and that’s just the way he likes it.

Finding Affordable Airfares for a Weekly Commute

Taking a job in a new city is both challenging and exciting, an opportunity to relish. Then a new reality sets in, your spouse’s job search in your new location hits a wall. Sure, they could quit their job (or you could quit your brand-new job) but that’s not really ideal. What’s the old saying? It’s much easier to find a job when you still have one. Hey, if you can make it on one income, that’s great, but if you are relocating to an expensive city, that might not be an option. You may find yourself commuting, and...

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A Final Thought for Now: Miles, Points, and Change

Where in the world is MJ? Actually, I’m typing this from San Francisco, but have no idea where I’ll be by the time this post goes live. I’m not sure what to say other than this will be my last post on MJ on Travel as we know it. Sometime around October 1, 10 years of content will reposition to BoardingArea’s Travel Update. As you’ve no doubt noticed, my posting activity has trailed off and I want to tell you why. Long story short, I have taken a new job. It’s not a small promotion and it will require my...

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Protecting Your Financial Information on the Road

There are many things that travelers need to be aware of on the road. One of the most important to me is protecting financial information, especially debit and credit card account information from compromise. While nothing is foolproof, I tend to follow a set of personal rules with debit and credit cards that has served me relatively well. First, I use one of my credit cards for nearly all purchases when I’m traveling. Of course, I earn rewards, and that’s really the point of it all, but it also prevents someone with less than honest intentions from having direct access...

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15 Septembers Later

I’ve put this same post up for 7 years in a row, and I don’t feel any need to change that habit. These few paragraphs represent the best short summary of my recollections of my day as a Customer Service Manager for American Airlines at DCA on September 11, 2001. This is by no means a complete synopsis. Truth told, there was a moment when I thought an airplane might fly through the expansive glass terminal at DCA at any minute. A broadcast on a policeman’s radio that says “there’s another airplane inbound to DCA, ETA 15 minutes” will do that to a guy who doesn’t know any better. I changed that day. We all did. But little did I know that the change had only just begun. Originally posted on September 11, 2009. Nine years ago today, my morning began much like any other early fall day.  I was roaming the airport in search of coffee and a bagel, mentally celebrating a successful morning launch of kick-off flights at Washington National Airport (DCA) on September 11, 2001.  I was one of the Customer Service Managers at DCA on duty for American Airlines that day. During a visit with our operations agent, I heard a radio call from our first inbound flight of the day.  The crew had a question, “had we heard anything about an incident in New...

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I Like Kimpton’s Approach on Card Fraud Issue

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. Simply put, they get it. If there’s a Kimpton property in a city I’m traveling to, I’m going to make every effort to stay there. You may have heard that the boutique chain experienced a major card fraud issue earlier this year. I first learned about the Kimpton card fraud issue at Krebs on Security. Kimpton has added a link to details about the issue on its home page. The information appears to have been updated yesterday (August 31, 2016). Here’s an excerpt. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants...

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My Latest Amex Retention Call: Talked to a Computer

I’m weeding out the credit cards that I’m no longer using as I refocus on financial simplicity, bring my personal balance sheet back to reality, and replenish my cash coffers so I can start tip-toeing back into a focus on miles and points. OK, I’m doing some of this because team MJ on Travel is getting ready to relocate, but I digress. 🙂 Next on my list of cards: The Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express. I’ve dithered with the idea of keeping this card. I do appreciate the utility of SPG points, but limited earning potential coupled with...

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Why I Am Not Applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

As you likely know, a brand new credit card product just arrived on the scene. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card may be the best credit card product of all time if you travel frequently. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why. 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 3X Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining purchases, and 1X points on all others. A $300 annual travel credit. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit. ($100 value every 4 years) Airport lounge access through the Priority Pass Select program. Trip cancellation/interruption insurance. Primary auto rental collision damage waiver. Emergency evacuation & transportation coverage. Trip delay reimbursement. All of this (and I haven’t listed every benefit) makes the card well worth its $450 annual fee. The $300 travel credit effectively brings the annual fee to $150. This coupled with the impressive 100,000 point bonus and 3X points earning for travel and dining expenses  and superior travel protections make this one of the best, if not the absolute best, credit cards for travelers I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I think it’s that good, yet I am not applying for it.   Wait. What? You read that right. I am not applying for the best credit card for travelers ever. If you’ve read me before, you might...

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Royal Caribbean Backs Off Loyalty Program Changes

I reported here a few days ago that Royal Caribbean was removing the popular balcony discount for its Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members for cruises booked within 6 months. A predictable outcry ensued from Royal Caribbean’s most loyal cruisers. While I wasn’t happy, I noted that I could now take advantage of other benefits like Amex Cruise Privileges which offered me an equivalent or near equivalent value. Well, it appears that Royal Caribbean has heard the cries. According to this post on Cruise Critic, they have decided to put the changes on hold for now. Notably, postpone is not the same thing as cancel….but it does suggest the company is considering the viability of such a move after hearing an outcry from its most loyal cruisers. The Bottom Line It never hurts to make sure your voice is heard. We’ll see if the Royal Caribbean permanently backs away from this unpopular change or if it moves ahead at a later...

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How Do You Fall Off a Cruise Ship?

Short answer – you don’t. Now if one is standing on the guard rail, leaning over from the waist so you can get that perfect shot, and/or intoxicated, then you may find yourself going for a swim. Further, if you have the good fortune to survive the “fall,” the likelihood that you’ll be recovered is pretty low. It appears that a Chinese tourist aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas has defied all the odds. According to crew-center.com, Chinese tourist Wang Si went overboard on August 10. “First to notice her disappearance was her family who informed the ships officers. All crew were engaged in an on board search operation, but they could not find the 32 year-old woman. Ship’s captain notified the Coast Guard, and search and rescue operation was initiated. After reviewing the recordings from the surveillance cameras, security officer noticed that the woman fell overboard.” Fortunately for Ms. Si, she is apparently an accomplished swimmer because she was discovered by fishermen 38 hours later, and apparently no worse for wear. “She was in a stable condition with minor injuries on her arms. Upon her rescue, the woman said she fell off the Mariner of the Seas while leaning over a 1.4-meter rail and gazing into the sea.” My Take First, I’m glad she’s OK. That said….. Don’t lean over the rails! Don’t climb on them. Don’t...

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Royal Caribbean Dropping Crown and Anchor Balcony Discount for Close-in Bookings

Much to the chagrin of Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society members, the cruise line has announced that it is dropping the popular balcony and suite discounts as of September 1, 2016, for its loyalty program participants unless they book more than 6 months in advance. The change was rolled out on a promotional flyer recently and reads: “Encourage your clients to book now! As of September 1, 2016 balcony and suite discounts will only apply to sailings booked more than six months out.” The balcony discount is one of the most valuable perks of being loyal to Royal, and it is disappointing to see it removed for cruises booked less than 6 months in advance. My Take Disappointing, but there is some good news. If you’re booking less than 6 months out, you can now take advantage of other opportunities like the American Express Cruise Privileges program which may equal or exceed the value of the Crown & Anchor discount. In a bit of other good news for Royal’s most prolific cruisers, Pinnacle Club members, the discount is increasing by $25 starting August 15, 2016. In the end, I’m not sure this is totally bad news for me as most of my sailings are booked more than 6 months in advance. Further, I can now take better advantage of the Amex Cruise Privileges program for those sailings I...

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