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.

Threat Level Orange (and Red)

I woke up during the night and sat down with my laptop. I saw that a major terrorist plot had been thwarted in England and that new security procedures were in effect. I thought back to my own experiences as an airline Customer Service Manager on 9/11 and immediately after. I remembered how patient Customers were with ever-evolving security procedures. We (employees and Customers) were a lot nicer to each other than we’d been in a long time. I then thought about how that civility has deteriorated in the years since 9/11/2001. If you are flying today, take your patience hat with you to the airport. You ARE going to need it. I suspect that the worst of these new procedures (no liquids, etc.) will be eased over the next week, but I don’t KNOW that. In the meantime, be thankful that the system worked this time, be as patient as you can possibly be, pack lite (and be prepared to check it anyway), and have a backup plan in case your flight suddenly gets axed or you don’t clear the checkpoint in time to make the flight. Edited to add: After having 48 hours to read and think about what’s going on, I’ve come to think that my original hopes of the latest TSA restrictions being eased in the next week may have been too optimistic. I continue...

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Surviving Summer

It has been hot. I mean…HOT. It’s been a long time since we’ve had so many 100 plus degree days here in the DC area. Heat doesn’t bother me like it used to. I spent 2 years in Dallas during my airline time. I moved there in April. It was 75 degrees and sunny everyday. I thought…wow..what a great place. On June 1st the temp rose to 110 degrees, and I don’t think we had a break at all until the middle of September! Before my time in DFW, I didn’t care for summer at all. Ever since…heat just doesn’t bother me anymore. Summer can be especially tricky for travelers. Thunderstorms, hurricanes, crowds, density altitude…. What’s density altitude? It’s an airplane thing. 🙂 Without getting too technical, and thus embarrassing myself, I’ll just say that as air gets hotter, and more humid, it becomes less dense. Here’s an excellent article on the subject. This negatively impacts aircraft performance in a variety of ways, most notably, airplanes need longer runways, and don’t climb as well. This is especially problematic at short runway fields such as Reagan National (DCA). I remember getting yelled at by a particularly testy passenger telling me that I had overbooked the flight and all this weight restriction stuff was bullsh*t. I wonder what he thought when the flight left with 20 empty seats because we just...

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I booked a plane ticket on the phone today…

I know my first reaction to the title of this post would be a big “so what?” But I honestly don’t remember the last time I called an airline and offered them the opportunity to sell me their product. I had a discount certificate that could only be done by phone, so that was the reason for my old style ticket purchase technique! It got me to thinking… it is entirely possible to purchase a ticket, print your boarding pass, board a flight and fly all the way to the other side of our great country at a speed of 9 miles per minute, and never speak to another human being. And we wonder why some airlines seem cold and impersonal. For the record, the airline was US Airways, and the telephone agent could not have been more helpful. Probably helps that I’m a Chairman’s Preferred flyer with US Airways, but still. Well, as I warned in my first post….this blog could contain some stuff that falls into the “just what’s on my mind” category. This certainly qualifies for that,...

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It’s been a long, hot and late summer so far…

I haven’t flown much this summer. Once in May (I know, not quite summer), a few times in June, a few in July. Only 6 or 8 flights in total. How many were on time, you ask? Exactly one. I’ve been flooded out, stormed out, timed out and we don’t know why’d out on every flight but one. That one flight was to San Juan where Lady Astrojets and I boarded a very fine cruise, so a quick shout-out to American Airlines for an equally very fine flight! I know a lot of people have flown much more, and I feel for them. I didn’t have a good feeling for travel as the summer approached, and it turns out that I was right. Knowing the things I know about airlines and their semi-dysfunctional functions, I correctly (ok, I’m biased) forecast that the combination of record numbers of passengers, reduced numbers of seats, fewer employees to handle them and global warming would not yield a good result for travelers this summer. How’s your summer on the road been so far? I’ll share some more details about mine as I get the...

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My first blog….

Well, who knew? I have entered the blogosphere. Those that know me, know that I’m all about travel. I’ve been involved in aviation in one form or another since I was 15, and wanted to be involved before that. I spent most of my childhood drawing pictures of airplanes, staring at airplanes in the sky, thinking about airplanes, building model airplanes and wanting to be an airline pilot. For me, high school, college, and all that goes with it were nothing more than a means to an end. I started flying lessons at age 15, and progressed through my various licenses and ratings all through high school and college. I joined a large regional airline as a pilot not long after graduating from college, and was fairly certain I was on path for reaching my ultimate goal: to be the Captain of a passenger jet for a major U.S. airline. I was on my way until January 17, 1996. That’s the day that I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. FAA will not issue a medical certificate necessary for commercial flying to Type 1 diabetics. My career as a pilot was over. I spent several months in a management position at the airline and later joined the major airline parent company progressing through several management assignments in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Washington, DC. I was working for the airline at...

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