Archive for the 'flying' Category

by mkeefe on Jul 5th, 2015

A different kind of vacation

As some of you know I just returned from a vacation to Florida with my family. However this vacation was a little different. Rather than spend a few weeks at Disney and other attractions, we rented a car and decided to drive to local beaches, Miami and Key West. Overall we enjoyed Miami, good food, nice cars, okay beaches (more on this later) and nice atmosphere.

From Miami we drove to Key West and while it was great seeing the southern most point (the Buoy), Key West really didn’t live up to our expectations. We did enjoy it, just not as much as I had hoped. The highlight of this portion of the trip was visiting the Key West Pie Company (from CNBCs The Profit), which as you’d imagine has amazing key lime pie.

Rather than staying in Key West we drove back to Orlando in about 7 hours and started the second half of our vacation. When the time came to visit Disney and other parks I decided to leave the camera, GoPro and iPhone photography at home. Reason being, I wanted to experience the vacation as it happened. The result? A much more enjoyable and connected vacation with my family. While looking at photos of Space Mountain and Mickey spotting is fun, i’ve found social media and FOMO results in our actually missing the true point of an vacation/event. We do of course have some photos from key moments and I know my wife took some candid photos.

Now, the other goal of this vacation was to visit various beaches throughout Florida and I can say we accomplished that. We swam/sunned at beaches in Venice, Miami, Key West and Sarasota. For Venice, our favorite beach was Caspersen, an out-of-the-way beach just beside an airport. This beach had lovely water, a seafood restaurant and great sand (though very hot in July!). Miami beaches were okay, though crowded and dirty overall. For Key West, our first beach was closed because of Red Tide but we did find a nice family beach, Fort Zachary Taylor which had food, picnic tables and massive amounts of beachfront.

The best beach out of all of those was actually one in Sarasota, Siesta Key Beach. This had Caribbean white sand, a large beach front for visitors, food onsite, facilities and a playground for kids. We ended up spending about 5 hours at this beach and cannot wait to go back on our next vacation.

Overall this vacation was a blast, a little deviation (both the photos and inner-state travel) but one i’m glad we did. I look forward to taking similar vacations in other places around this country. The goal of a vacation is to have fun, not just visit the main attractions everyone does. All told in 10 days we drove over 2500 miles and visited 7 towns/cities throughout Florida.

by mkeefe on Dec 19th, 2012

Why Most Airlines Suck and jetBlue doesn’t

It all began with me arriving at BOS (Logan airport) about 2 hours early to catch a flight to ORD (O’hare). Upon seeing the massive check-in line I quickly jumped to the kiosk which usually gets you in and off to TSA quite quickly. Except when half the kiosks are offline and then the one I do use says I need to see a Front Desk Attendant. Alright, off to a great start. I go back to the line, plead with the ticket checker to let me skip ahead as I have now wasted 20 minutes at the kiosk and I get the best response ever “Sorry, I can’t help you.. have you tried the kiosk?” .. ummm, yah.. came from there. Okay, anyways I wait in line once again.

Finally about 40 minutes before my flight leaves (not boards, but leaves) I arrive at the longest TSA line ever. I quickly realize AA’s system is slow as dirt today and a few other travelers are stuck in line for the same departure time. We try to flag down a few attendants, but that is pointless as they only tell you they can’t help. After about 15 minutes of slow line moving I ask the other travelers to hold my place in line and i’ll go up to the front and ask around for assistance. Luckily one TSA agent is helpful and tells me to go back and get the others for expedited screening (read: mandatory body scanner) but we are a little closer to the plane at least. After 2 hours of hell, waiting and unhelpful AA staff, I arrive at my plane 5 minutes after it was supposed to leave the gate.. phew, horrible experience with American Airlines is over, or is it?

In something similar to an episode of the twilight zone I arrive to ORD in hopes of quickly getting through check-in, TSA and get some food while I wait for my plane.. and if I flew jetBlue I probably could have. However since AA is destined to make my life hell they once again tell me the ticket is un-linked and in one case, not paid. How is this even possible? Its not like this is Joe’s Airline from the midwest. Well thankfully after trying the kiosk (yes, they made me) and getting a manager I was able to get some quicker assistance. This time it was a bit less eventful, the desk attendant just called corporate, got some override, typed in a bunch of numbers (all the while telling me what it is she’s doing) and I got a ticket. Oh but thanks to all these delays I have 40 minutes to get through TSA onto my flight. Luckily for me this attendant walks me to TSA and gets my priority placement (front of the line) to get through and get some food!

One of the worst flight check-in experiences i’ve ever faced and unlucky for them its the first and last time i’ll fly American Airlines.

Now, how would this have unfolded if it were jetBlue? Well first the kiosk would recognize me, but on the off chance it didn’t, I would find an attendant in blue, explain the issue and they would walk me to the front of the line or close (if others are in the same process) and quickly get me to the plane. Doubt it? Well a while back I had a client book a flight and they misspelled my name, so of course the validation failed upon check-in. After two forms of ID and a couple key presses later I have a boarding pass in hand, no convoluted trouble-codes (VCR, wtf is that?) and unhelpful attendants.

Of course your mileage and experiences may vary, but this traveler will be sticking with jetBlue whenever possible.

So, in closing:

Why jetBlue runs circles around the competition

  • Free drinks (okay, AA had this)
  • Free snacks (not on AA, I got a free cookie since they couldn’t find it in the system)
  • In-flight TV, at your seat and even includes XM radio
  • First bag free

 
What jetBlue could add to be near-perfect

  • In-flight WIFI. AA did have this (for a fee) and it was very useful
  • Offer Passbook support in their mobile app
  • Bring back Munchies mix

 

Update: From jetBlue on my horrible experience.