Renting from Avis over the holidays? I know I am, and I’ll be picking up some bonus AAdvantage miles along the way. Avis has teamed up with American AAdvantage to offer savings of up to 35 percent and up to 3,000 bonus miles too! Rent from Avis for 2 or more consecutive days and use AWD number K817186 and coupon code MUAA077. This offer is good now through December 31, 2014. Bonus miles vary depending on the length of the rental.

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Quantum of the Seas has arrived at her first port of call, Southampton, UK. On Sunday, November 2, she’ll depart for her new home, Cape Liberty, NJ, with the first paying guests for an 8-night trans-Atlantic cruise. My only regret about this is that I have to wait until December 1 to board the industry’s first “Smart Ship!” Here’s a video provided by Royal Caribbean covering the ship’s arrival in Southampton.

Just in from Delta –

Delta is offering an award sale with mileage discounts of up to 10,000 miles* roundtrip. Book by November 2, 2014, and fly between December 3, 2014, and February 18, 2015.

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I haven’t tried any itineraries, but notable, but not all – inclusive terms and conditions are:

  • *Saver Award Tickets will be discounted 4,000 miles round trip to select destinations within the U.S. 48 contiguous states (U.S. 48) and between select destinations in the U.S. 48 and Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Saver Award Tickets will be discounted 10,000 miles round trip between select destinations in the U.S. 48 and Southern South America. Standard Award Tickets will be discounted 8,000 miles round trip to select destinations within the U.S. 48 and between select destinations in the U.S. 48 and Mexico, Central America, Northern South America and the Caribbean. For more information on the Award Ticket regions, see Award Travel Charts.
  • Promotional redemption amounts are not available for the following markets at any time: Caracas, Venezuela; Cancun, Mexico; and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Blackout Dates: Promotional redemption amounts are not available to any eligible markets on the following dates: December 19 through December 24, 2014, December 26, 2014 through January 5, 2015, January 16, 2015, January 19, 2015, February 13, 2015 and February 16, 2015.
  • Redemption Amount Validity: Redemption amounts are valid for travel in the Economy Class (Coach) cabin on Delta/Delta Connection carrier flights only.
  • Minimum Stay: Tickets to/from Brazil, Argentina, and Chile require a 7 day minimum stay.
  • Maximum Stay: 30 days or through February 18, 2015, whichever is earliest.

My Take

Other than the blackout dates, these sales are offered during a time period traditionally known for slow travel. Looks like Delta is wisely using a good opportunity to get a few miles off the book. If you’re able to take advantage of this deal, go for it. Saving a few miles is never a bad thing. Notably, Delta recently offered a similar sale, but that was specifically for Delta Amex cardmembers.

-MJ, October 30, 2014

Marriott International has announced a major enhancement for its guests who are members of the Marriott Rewards program. Beginning January 15, 2015, Marriott will “offer free in-room Wi-Fi to all (emphasis mine) Marriott Rewards members who book directly on, Marriott’s mobile app, 1-800 MARRIOTT, or through a Marriott hotel. As a member, you’ll be able to connect at over 3,800 hotels across 70 countries worldwide.” Golds and Platinums will continue to receive free “enhanced” wi-fi where available.

Marriott has posted an FAQ on the topic as well as a list of non-participating hotels.

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MJ’s Take

This is a real enhancement for the Marriott Rewards program and for the Marriott brand. Wi-fi charges at full-service hotels are a common complaint of business and leisure travelers, including me. While I have elite status with Marriott, and have not been subject to wi-fi charges for years, the fact is that they are a big turn off for many. Will Hilton soon follow? SPG? Only time will tell, but I don’t see how they avoid it. I definitely consider internet access charges when I’m making stay decisions with other hotel brands.

For complete details, visit

Setting sail on your first cruise soon? Welcome to the blog! I’m a cruise enthusiast, and I’m glad you’re search for tips to maximize your cruise vacation adventure has brought you here. I have quite a bit of cruising content here, and working on better organizing it to make it more useful for you. Today, we’ll focus on information available for first-time cruisers. I’ve added a menu button to the MJ on Travel homepage entitled “Cruising for Beginners.”

cruise tips, first time cruiser, first cruise, first cruise tips


Click the “Cruising for Beginners” button for a series of posts on picking a cruise line, booking, and even packing tips.

Cruising with MJ – Setting Sail on Your Own the MJ Way

Cruising with MJ – A Word on Picking the Right Cruise Line for You

Cruising with MJ – You’ve Booked Your Cruise So Now What?

Cruising with MJ – Let’s Get Packed

Cruising with MJ – It’s Almost Time to Cruise! What Do I Do Now?

Cruising with MJ – Three Days Until Sail Away

Cruising with MJ – Embarkation Day (It’s Time to Play)

While this is aimed at beginners, there’s useful information for cruisers of all experience levels looking for a refresh or just a look at the way others enjoy their cruise. I’ll post updates as I reorganize the rest of my cruise and travel-related content access on the home page menu with an eye on making information accessible and easier for you to use. Thanks for reading, and enjoy your cruise!

-MJ, October 30, 2014

OK, I know this is random, but a buddy of mine just forwarded an email from Uber that I couldn’t help but share.



In select cities, including San Francisco where my friend is from, Uber has teamed up with the ASPCA. For $30, Uber will deliver an adoptable kitten to your door today between 12pm and 4pm in San Francisco. You get 15 minutes with the kitten, and can choose to start the process to adopt if you wish. In any case, the proceeds go to the Anti-Cruelty society. Follow these steps:

  • Open your Uber app between 12pm & 4pm.
  • Request the “KITTENS” option in your app!
  • $30 gets you 15 minutes of cuteness and cuddles.
  • All proceeds will be donated to the Anti-Cruelty Society.
  • PRO TIP: Make sure to have an enclosed space purrfect for playtime!
  • If you fall in love with a furball, it could be yours. Every kitten is eligible for adoption!

Spread the word with the hashtag #UberKITTENS.

-MJ, October 29, 2014


Yesterday’s announcement about the 2015 AAdvantage program was met with a big sigh of relief by a lot of American frequent flyers, including this one. There had been a limited amount of speculation that American would announce a revenue based program like Delta and United have done. An email I received last night piqued my interest.

Subject Line: Shot Across the Bow

Content: Do you think AA keeping FFP in tact will cause Delta and United to have second thoughts?

MJ’s Answer

No, I don’t. First, whether you agree with revenue-based programs or not, switching to them is not a small feat. A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to prepare for the change. On January 1, 2015, Delta is going revenue-based no matter what happens with AAdvantage, and United will follow in March. Second, in my opinion the biggest reason that the new AAdvantage looks so similar to the old AAdvantage is that is what AA’s IT systems will allow for now. AA is focused on integrating the two airlines and their loyalty programs, and that is the correct priority in my book.

Now, the benefit of going last in the round of mergers is that you have the advantage of seeing those that go before you screw up or get things right. My thoughts on the inevitability of revenue-based programs are widely known, and made fun of by nearly every blogger on earth. You know where I stand on that. But hey, if I’m wrong, and the programs flop…..AA will have the benefit of time to watch the others fail and measure the amount of business it gains by being different. In the near term, at least, I don’t see AA’s announcement having any impact on what Delta and United are planning for next year. Anyone feel differently? Share your thoughts.

-MJ, October 29, 2014




new AAdvantage, Loyalty, cruising rewards, cruising, cruise vacations


Most of the feedback I’ve read about today’s AAdvantage announcement is positive. That said, I admittedly tend to look at things through the eyes of a longtime AAdvantage member, and no doubt, my own thoughts on the coming 2015 program are positive. I don’t doubt that my feelings are impacted by the fact that the combined program is going to look a lot more like what I currently know as the AAdvantage program than anything else. I think that’s a good thing. Not everyone agrees, and they have their own very valid reasons.

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  • Reader Dan frequently flies between JFK and CLT, a route measuring 514 miles. That’s 14 miles beyond the new 500 mile complimentary upgrade threshold, thus requiring 2 upgrades (earned or purchased) when AA and US are on a combined reservation system.
  • Reader Joe rarely flies less than 500 miles.
  • Reader Jon, an AA Gold member prefers using “stickers” to upgrade and fears that he’ll frequently be locked out of premium cabins on shorter flights.
  • Fellow BA blogger Jeanne at Heels First picked up on an important change for Dividend Miles members that did not get a lot of coverage today.
  • By far, my favorite alternative view point is that of Carolina Travel Girl, a longtime US Airways customer.

All are very reasonable viewpoints that I have some empathy for, even if I feel like the 2015 AAdvantage program is the best possible outcome for the largest number of American and US Airways customers right now. And “right now” is a point that needs to be emphasized. We may have seen the majority of changes that will take place in 2015…..and perhaps 2016, but sooner or later these two airlines are going to be one, and they’re going to be on one IT platform. More on that later.

-MJ, October 28, 2014



Royal Caribbean International took delivery of the line’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, from Meyer Werft today in a ceremony in Bremerhaven. The ship, referred to as the industry’s first “Smart Ship” is now on her way to Southampton, UK where she’ll depart November 2, 2014, with her first guests bound for New York.

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According to Royal Caribbean, “Quantum-class ships are the world’s most technologically advanced in the world with “boatloads of bandwidth” which allow the cruise line to offer unprecedented connectivity – 500 times more than any other cruise ship; easy-to-use systems that expand guest choices and simplify schedules, plus, RFID technology that speeds up the boarding process and allows guest to track their luggage every step of the way.” The MJ on Travel team will board Quantum in early December for an 11-night Caribbean cruise, and no, we’re not stoked at all. :)

Quantum promises to be a unique cruising experience all the way around, and will likely be a real leap forward for the Royal Caribbean brand. I know I have some reservations about Dynamic Dining, but I’m approaching things with an open mind, ready to be WOW’d. Cant’ wait to cruise aboard this beautiful ship.

-MJ, October 28, 2014

This morning, I posted that American Airlines has announced the details of the 2015 AAdvantage program. Overall, I think the news is good. AAdvantage will remain a program that most American Airlines loyalists recognize. Further, while there are some pockets of potential disappointment for US Airways elites, I think that on the whole, there’s good news for them too. I posted most the highlights this morning, but it never hurts to review a few details.

  • The new AAdvantage will maintain three status tiers, Gold, Platinum, Executive Platinum. For legacy Dividend Miles members, their four tier system will transition to three with Silver transitioning to Gold, Platinum and Gold transitioning to Platinum, and Chairman’s Preferred transitioning to Executive Platinum.
  • Effective January 1, 2015, the requirement to qualify for Executive Platinum by segments will rise to 120 from 100 for the 2016 membership year. Other qualification requirements remain unchanged for the AAdvantage program.
  • Once the programs combine in the second quarter of 2015, all elite members will receive complimentary, auto-requested upgrades on eligible American-marketed and operated flights less than or equal to 500 miles(emphasis mine)

new aadvantage program, combined aadvantage program, 2015 aadvantage program,

Where Flyers May Be Disappointed

  • No more “just over” 500 mile exemptions for upgrades on the AA side.
  • The 75K Platinums on the US side will ask where’s the incentive to fly beyond 50K.
  • No more complimentary upgrades at the low and mid tier for US flyers for flights over 500 miles.
  • The extra 20 segments may be a struggle for some legacy Executive Platinums.

Why Flyers Should Not Be Disappointed

  • Complimentary 500 mile upgrades for all elites is an enhancement on the AA side, and in my opinion, a great compromise for US flyers. (Factoid: AA tells me that the percentage of flights with a 2-class cabin on routes of 500 miles or less that are eligible for a complimentary upgrade is 34 percent of departures.)
  • Executive Platinums will get 8 VIP upgrades good on any fare. US Chairman’s Preferred will get their 2 Chairman’s upgrades, and then 8 VIPSs when the programs merge.
  • US mid tier elites (former Gold and Platinum) will receive 100 percent bonus miles for their flights rather than 50 percent, and 75 percent respectively.
  • Lower tier elites will have a better shot at longer-haul upgrades they care about most.

Last week, I made some predictions (really, just guesses for the sake of discussion) as to what the new program might look like. I came pretty close. I missed on the 3 tier vs 4 tier elite system, and I did not foresee comp 500 mile and less upgrades for all. On the whole, I think there is much more here to like than dislike. I think that AAdvantage is taking the right approach here, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. That’s not to say we won’t see more change down the road, but I feel like this is the best approach for the near term as the airlines integrate their operations and their loyalty programs? MJ says: brAAvo! :)

-MJ, October 28, 2014





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