News of inflight fights, diverted flights, and police calls remind me of an episode of SWAT or the old Airport movies, maybe even “Snakes on a Plane.” Instead, this is no Hollywood drama, it’s real life, and it’s getting out of hand. I’ve covered coach cabin etiquette and attitude before:

And I’m sure a few more too. The latest of these incidents happened yesterday when a Delta Air Lines flight from New York to West Palm Beach diverted to Jacksonville, FL due to a couple of passengers quarreling over reclining. Apparently, someone was trying to sleep on their tray table (never got that one either, but if it works for you, more power to you) when the person in front of them reclined. There was a bit of a spat, and according to multiple news sources, the flight diverted and one of the individuals was booted off the flight.

(On Soapbox)

OK people, I’ve tried the let’s all work together approach. Obviously, it’s not our fault that the airlines put those rows of seats too close together. It is our fault when we act like numbnuts, cause flight diversions, and inconvenience numerous other travelers. An airplane cabin isn’t romper room. It’s an aluminum (or composite) tube, laden with kerosene, and moving along around 9 miles a minute a few miles above the ground. Seriously, get it together!

(Off Soapbox) :)

-MJ, September 2, 2014

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It’s not often that I am disappointed with Delta Air Lines. They run, without question IMHO, the best airline operation in the USA. They deliver a reliable and desirable product. The airline is in a word, solid. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the company, its managers, and its employees. That hasn’t changed, but things like this annoy me:

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I’m referring to Delta’s decision to prohibit ExpertFlyer from displaying any information related to Delta. I use ExpertFlyer weekly to inform my travel decisions, and I think Delta’s decision is regrettable at best. In truth, I suspect those of us that use ExpertFlyer frequently represent a fraction of Delta’s customer base, and a not much greater percentage of their Medallion customer base. I’d love to be wrong about that, but I’m likely not. Has life as I know it come to an end? No. Do I think Delta “hates customers?” No. Am I disappointed in Delta for making this decision? Yes, I am. Do I think Delta cares what I think? No, and maybe that’s the most disappointing thing of all.

-MJ, September 1, 2014

 

The last day of August, and we’re well into a long holiday weekend. I can’t believe the “unofficial” end of summer is already here. It won’t be long before we’re complaining about how cold it is, but there surely won’t be any complaints of cold this weekend. I get an unexpected short week in the office before departing next Sunday on what is going to be nearly an entire month of business travel with a few days at home here and there. Fall is shaping up to be a very busy season for travel. But before we get started on the week ahead, here’s a recap of the week that was here at MJ on Travel.

And This Week at MJ on Travel -

These travel topics, and no doubt more, this week at MJ on Travel. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

-MJ, August 31, 2014

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The Renaissance at LAX has been my preferred Marriott property by the airport for years. I suppose it still is as I’d likely not spend more than one night in the area pre or post flight, but my most recent visit reminded me that even a tried and true hotel can have shortcomings. A few nits come to mind.

  • I tried Marriott’s mobile check-in option for the first time, and had to wait in line
  • The rooms are dated

Other than that, the staff I interacted with were perfectly pleasant, the service in the lobby lounge was great, and the shuttle to/from the airport ran regularly. It worked just fine for a 1-night stay between flights. Here’s a look at my room.

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Television and dresser with coffee service

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Desk with one power outlet

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Comfortable bed, but no accessible power outlets by the nightstands

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Bath area

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Bath area

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Toiletries

While the room was not recently refreshed, the bath furnishings struck me as modernized since my last visit to the hotel. One can hope that’s a sign that similar remodel of the rooms is forthcoming. The lack of accessible power outlets was especially notable. Most importantly, the bed was very comfortable and made for a great night’s sleep prior to my flight the next morning. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also note that one can easily walk to the In-n-Out LAX for some great plane spotting from this property too! The Renaissance LAX remains my first choice of pre- and post- flight hotels at LAX, but the rooms could use a little touching up.

-MJ, August 30, 2014

Yesterday, I wrote a quick post on the AA A321T First Class amenity kit. I also offered an opportunity to win the kit just for commenting to the post. We received 35 comments, and the winner, chosen via Random.org is reader Daniel, # 10. Daniel, check your email!! And thanks to everyone for commenting.

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In 3 months I set sail aboard Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas! To say I’m stoked about it would be a mild understatement. I’ve posted about Quantum frequently, I’ve even added “Quantum of the Seas” as a category here at MJ on Travel to help find Quantum related topics more easily. As more details of the ship have been released, we now have a clearer picture of what kind of vessel Quantum of the Seas will be. In short, she looks to be the most technologically advanced cruise ship sailing. This can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse, because as nice as fast internet and apps will be, one of the advantages of cruising is the sense of getting away. Will that change with Quantum? Perhaps, but I think the technology Quantum of the Seas promises to bring to cruising are just an acknowledgment of what the majority of customers now expect, even on vacation. Without further adieu, here are my three favorite things about Quantum of the Seas.

Power outlets by the nightstand – Sounds simple, I know, but if you’re like me, your smartphone is now your alarm clock, calendar, everything else. Having the alarm clock by the bed is most natural, and now you can charge your smartphone by the bed overnight while you sleep.

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Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Bandwidth – While I seek to disconnect when cruising, the truth is that it is very difficult in the modern working world to completely disappear from the grid for vast stretches of time. I write a blog on travel, I upload pictures, video clips, etc. To say that cruise ship internet has been historically frustrating would be an understatement. I’m happy to see an investment in real internet for Royal Caribbean’s newest ship. Nothing is forcing anyone to be connected all the time, and I purposely limit internet to an hour or so per day when cruising, and also declare some days as internet free. That won’t change. What will change is I’ll be a lot less frustrated when I am trying to connect.

SMART Check-In – Royal Caribbean will introduce new processes with Quantum of the Seas that moves even more of the check-in process from the pier to the PC prior to arriving in port. If you’ve been through Terminal 18 at Port Everglades and experienced how much better the process is there, then one could wonder how it could be improved. Royal Caribbean is promising 10 minutes from curbside to ship. I prefer “curbside to cocktail (C2C)” but I’ll take either. A smooth check-in really sets the tone for the cruise, and I’m excited to try SMART Check-In.

My cruising needs are simple, and these are my three favorite things right now. Let’s see if my list evolves after I experience Quantum of the Seas firsthand this December.

-MJ, August 30, 2014

I finally made it to DC on a day with beautiful weather. What a difference a little sunshine can make for a smartphone video! The River Visual Approach to runway 19 at DCA is one of my favorite experiences. This was the landing spot of my first flight in August 1980 onboard an Eastern Air Lines DC-9, and all these years later I still love it when we land to the south at DCA. See if you can pick out the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Kennedy Center, and other DC landmarks. You’ll see the shadow of our MD-80 every now and then too! Enjoy your long weekend!!

I recently completed a First Class transcon flight aboard American’s new A321T aircraft. It was a great flight, and I posted a trip report here. One thing barely touched on was the first class amenity kit. It’s a perfectly sized little bag with the things one might need on a flight. As far as I can tell, it’s the same kit they hand out in Business Class on their international flights.

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Inside the kit are socks, eye shades, ear plugs, tissues, lotions, lip balm, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a small pen. Just what one needs on a flight.

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It’s a pretty basic kit, but I can’t think of anything else I’d want, so I’ll call it perfectly serviceable. Knowing that many readers like to collect things like this, I thought I’d give the kit away. It is unused other than taking the contents out for the photo above. All you have to do is comment to this post with anything travel related, and can even be your own thoughts on the A321T service, amenity kit, etc. Just keep it clean. I’ll pick the winner via random.org tomorrow at noon EDT here in Atlanta.

CONTEST CLOSED – Winner TBA

I recently completed a 1-night stay at the beautiful new Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC. Located adjacent to DC’s convention center, the hotel is, I believe, the newest hotel in DC, and one of the largest.

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This was a vey quick stay, and I did not get the opportunity to visit the lobby lounge (a very striking space), the M Club Lounge, or any of the hotel’s restaurants. All the more reason for me to stay again, because I quite enjoyed the hotel.

Check In

I arrived via Uber, and was immediately greeted by bell staff. This was my second try at using Marriott’s new mobile check in, so I went to the desk with the “mobile check in” sign and was immediately assisted. The front desk person was a little new, and I think might not have been fully informed on the process. My key was ready, but something on the computer screen was throwing her off….perhaps it was that there’s no need to swipe my credit card? She brought over some help who immediately completed the transaction, and even walked with me towards the elevators describing some of the amenities the hotel offers.

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The lobby atrium

The Room

My 12th floor room was on the M Club Lounge level. I can’t believe I didn’t pop in there, but I seemed to have been running to the next thing throughout the trip. The hotel has a modern feel, and perhaps I’ve spent too much time at old-school Marriott’s, because the first thing I noticed on my floor was that there was no garish red in any carpet fiber anywhere. :) Like the hotel, my room had a modern feel, was well lit, and had plenty of power outlets (yay).

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Upon entering the room, the bath was to my left, and the closet to the right

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Modern bath

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Walk-in shower

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Toiletries

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Closet with laptop safe and robe

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In-room Keurig – Gold Star!!

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Desk and comfortable chair

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Comfortable bed

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Bedside lamp with both 110v and USB power outlets

The hotel was obviously built to support those of us with certain electronics addictions. I like having the 110v and USB power by the bed. If you’re like me, you no longer use alarm clocks, opting instead for using the alarm feature of my smartphone. Power by the bed seems second-nature, and in fact, is available in most hotels nowadays. I hadn’t really noticed until I stayed in a hotel a couple of weeks ago that lacked exactly this.

The Bottom Line

I liked the modern vibe and feel of the hotel. I want to go back, if for nothing other than trying out the hotel’s other amenities, including the M Club Lounge. There just wasn’t time this trip. The hotel is convenient to the convention center metro stop, and the rest of everything the city has to offer is either a short walk or metro ride away. I will be back.

-MJ, August 29, 2014

 

 

Nothing was striking my fancy as I perused various cruises all week, then this caught my eye. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas is sailing a 12 night repositioning itinerary from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona departing September 1. Yes, that’s short notice, but if you’re retired or otherwise able to take time off, this is a reasonably attractive deal starting at $599 per person.

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You have to call Royal Caribbean to get the air package.

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If something a little less extensive is a better fit for you, the September 1 sailing of Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas from Port Canaveral has interior staterooms starting at $109 per person as I type this. Great deals for a Labor Day getaway!!!

-MJ, August 28, 2014

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