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.

Royal Caribbean Discounting Beverage Packages

I’ve blogged on the virtues of cruise line drink packages before. While they are very much a YMMV situation depending on your habits, they are worth a few minutes of consideration in your cruise vacation planning. At best, they really can save you money. At worst, you know most of the cost of your cruise in advance and don’t have to worry about blowing your budget. Royal Caribbean is running a promotion right now the offers 20 percent off the cost of your beverage package. I can’t guarantee it is available on every sailing, but reports are widespread that if you log into royalcaribbean.com and enter your “Cruise Planner” to shop for the packages, you’ll see the promotion. I did and found the offer. I was able to pick up the Ultimate Package for $49 per day plus gratuity. The all-in price worked out to $57.82 per person, per day for our short 5-night getaway this fall. That’s actually a perfect deal for us as Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate Package includes bottled water and specialty coffees. We drink lots of coffee and water….and when we’re on vacationing…especially on a short “party” cruise like this, we’ll do our share of imbibing too. If you are cruising Royal Caribbean soon, check and see if your cruise is eligible for a beverage package discount. It could be worth it depending on your...

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My First CLEAR Experience in Years

As I wrote a while ago, Delta has partnered with CLEAR to enhance the security experience for its customers. I was a member of the original CLEAR a few years ago. With their recent appearance at one of my most frequented airports, DCA, I decided to re-up my membership, especially with discounts for Delta’s frequent flyer members. As it turns out, I had 3 months remaining on my previous membership, and CLEAR gave me 3 months free. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to give the new CLEAR a try since they recently opened at DCA. The verdict: I liked it a lot. I was departing DCA and the CLEAR kiosks are conveniently located adjacent to the TSA PreCheck lane on the Delta Air Lines concourse. I walked past the usual PreCheck entrance all the way around to the well placed CLEAR kiosks. I was greeted by two smiling concierges who directed me to the kiosk for a fingerprint check. After scanning scanning my boarding pass and placing two fingers on the macing, my picture appeared within seconds and I was good to go. The CLEAR concierge advised TSA that I was a PreCheck CLEAR member and I was in line for the metal detector within a few seconds after placing my bags on the belt for x-ray. I did not time the process, but I would estimate 3 minutes top from...

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JetBlue to Europe? Yes Please

First, we learned JetBlue was seeking to return to Atlanta in 2017. That’s great news for Atlanta travelers. But now, there some really big news from JetBlue’s Q2 earnings call today. First, JetBlue is expanding its popular Mint product by taking delivery of more A321s equipped with Mint cabins. According to JetBlue, “JetBlue will take delivery of incremental aircraft over seven years. Specifically, Airbus is scheduled to deliver 15 incremental A321ceos (current engine option) starting in 2017, with five Mint deliveries expected in 2017 and the intention for most incremental deliveries in the following years to come in Mint. Further, JetBlue expects to take delivery of 15 incremental A321neos (new engine option) starting in 2020. The amendment provides flexibility to take deliveries in Mint or all-core configurations based on market opportunities. While it has not yet committed to this fleet type, JetBlue will have the option to configure the NEO aircraft in the long range version of the A321 – the A321LR – starting in 2019.” Just an Idea for Now Check out those “new possibilities” with the A321LR option. OK, that’s really nothing but another arrow pointing across the pond, but the A321LR has the range to serve Europe, and JetBlue appears interested in doing so. JetBlue officials made clear in this WSJ.com article that this is just something they are considering for the moment, but how cool...

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Delta Partnering with PANYNJ on LGA Redevelopment

More news from Delta Air Lines today on significant investments in terminal facilities to improve the passenger experience. Delta is partnering with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to replace its LaGuardia terminals with a brand new state of the art facility. The project is part of a 50-year lease agreement that Delta is negotiating with PANYNJ. The new terminal will feature a brand new Sky Club, with Sky Deck, with more spacious concourses, larger gate areas with more seating, and increased concessions. The terminal will include 37 gates across 4 concourses with a centralized check-in area and security checkpoint. According to Delta, the majority of gates will have access to dual taxi lanes, which will greatly improve airfield efficiency, resulting in reduced taxi time to and from the gate before take-off and after landing.   My Take It’s exciting to see Delta commit to such a massive investment at LGA. Like most fliers, I don’t find LGA to be the best air travel experience and the new terminal facilities Delta is investing in will be a remarkable improvement. You can read Delta’s press release announcing the project in its entirety...

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A Tale of Two Airlines: AA and DL

I recently completed a roundtrip flight to Dallas/Fort Worth from Atlanta. I thought it would be fun to fly American since I was going to visit a buddy I worked with there. Not to mention, another friend was flying in on American and it would be convenient to link up for transportation to the hotel. As it turns out, my best shot at upgraded travel was flying American to DFW and Delta home. I also thought it would make for a fun blog post – comparing the two experiences. American: ATL to DFW I arrived at the airport way early, and as luck would have it, PreCheck was in great shape and I cleared in exactly 4 minutes. Off to the Admirals Club, which is actually one of my favorites. It could use a little updating, but the staff is nice, there are lots of power outlets, and I could grab some food. Most of my visits to this club have been in the early morning hours, and it’s always been uncrowded. Not so at 2PM on a Thursday with weather all around. Most seats in the club were taken, but I found a spot at the bar (which also has power outlets) and ordered a sandwich. By the time this was done, a 30 minute delay had posted on my flight. Not that significant, and actually understandable given...

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Breaking: Delta Global Upgrade Certs Now Valid on Virgin

Delta SkyMiles Medallion global upgrade certificates are now valid on Virgin Atlantic flights marketed by Delta. Per Delta.com,  global upgrades are now valid on all Delta marketed Virgin Atlantic flights worldwide. “Valid on Delta-marketed, Virgin Atlantic-operated flights for use globally on published Economy Cabin fares booked in W, Y, B, M, S, H, Q, K, L, U, T, X or V class to Upper Class.” I will update this post with links as soon as I’m near a computer, but check out the terms and conditions for GPUs on Delta.com. Good move by Delta!...

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Delta’s Latest Smartphone Update

I downloaded Delta’s latest update for its smartphone app yesterday. In my case, we’re talking iPhone, but do check out the Android app as well if that’s what you use. In any event, the update included a fix to an issue that has annoyed me for years. Basically, if anything happened to your flight…delays, etc, the link to view the upgrade list almost always disappeared in my experience. Delta has heard our cries. We now have a separate “button” that should allow us to take a look at the upgrade list, no matter what. Yay! Other Fixes In addition to the upgrade list feature, Delta pushed an update to the “Track My Bags” feature to provide a quick summary of baggage status with access to more detailed information. The update also repaired an alignment issue with the shopping calendar. I’ve found Delta’s smartphone app to be a cut above other offerings, and it’s good to see continued improvements. Now if we could just get a fix that pushes updated seat assignments and gate changes to Apple Wallet boarding passes. Come on Delta, you can do this! -MJ, July 15,...

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Delta’s New TUMI Amenity Kits

Delta Air Lines has teamed up with TUMI and Kiehl’s Since 1851 to offer a refreshed Delta One amenity kit for its premium business class customers. According to Delta, the new kits include Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 and grapefruit-scented Deluxe Hand and Body Lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal. The new kits appeared on July 1 aboard Delta’s premium transoceanic international flights and flights between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport/San Francisco International Airport. In a unique twist, Delta will alternate between hard and soft sided TUMI kits based on direction of travel. Customers will receive a navy hard-sided amenity kit outbound from the U.S. and a soft-sided black amenity kit inbound to the U.S., allowing them to add variety to their amenity kit collection each way. In addition to the new Kiehl’s products, the kit includes a “TUMI soft touch pen and eye shades, striped socks, a dental kit featuring Crest toothpaste, tissues, mouthwash and ear plugs.” Delta celebrated the launch of its refreshed amenity kits by handing out complimentary Kiehl’s samples at its flagship New York City store as well as Kiehl’s Nolita and Hell’s Kitchen store locations and to customers at the gate prior to boarding select flights between John F. Kennedy Airport and San Francisco International Airport/ Los Angeles International Airport. Customers are also able to participate in an online social media contest by sharing their best travel...

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JetBlue Looking to Return to Atlanta

Good news for many Atlanta travelers! JetBlue Airways has indicated that it intends to resume serving Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in September 2017. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the airline recently “…sent a letter of interest to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, saying it plans to renew service to Atlanta in September 2017. The airline said it plans 16 daily flights as long as it can get access to two gates suitable for large aircraft “and higher end business and leisure travelers that JetBlue is targeting in the Atlanta market.” JetBlue last served Atlanta in 2003. My Take This is really good news. As you know, I routinely fly Delta, and I don’t think that’s going to change. However, a little competition, especially from a great airline like JetBlue, is a good thing for Atlanta travelers, and I would opine, even for Delta. It never hurts to have someone keeping you on your toes and JetBlue’s superior coach product offering might be just the ticket for that. JetBlue did not disclose the markets it would serve, but I would speculate that New York, Boston, and perhaps Fort Lauderdale might be good launch markets. That’s probably a better idea than the west coast market they started off with before. Which markets do you expect JetBlue will serve when they finally return to Atlanta? -MJ, July 8, 2016...

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Cab Driver Gets FREE Cruise for Returning Backpack Containing $187K

When I first heard about this, I couldn’t help but ask “who carries $187,000 in their backpack?” According to Channel 7 News in Boston, a man with an inheritance who needed a cab ride. Unfortunately, he left his backpack in the cab. The driver turned the bag over to police who were able to locate the fortunate owner based on paperwork found in the backpack. For his good deed, the cab driver received a $100 reward from the relieved owner. But there’s more. Upon hearing of the cab driver’s selfless act, Royal Caribbean International decided to send him on a free cruise. According to the Boston Globe, the cruise line has a program, “Ticket to Adventure,” that rewards people who perform selfless acts with a free cruise. Maybe we should change that old saying to “no good deed goes unrewarded”? In any event, it’s nice to see a good story for a change. Let’s hope the cab driver enjoys his cruise....

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