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Freedom Of The Seas Is A Wonderful Vacation!

Posted by thetraveldoctor on April 21, 2013


ImageMy wife and I sailed recently on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Of The Seas on a 7 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise. This was the first of the Freedom Class Ships that Royal Caribbean built. This class of ship is a Voyager style layout only longer. So the fact that the ship is longer gives it more room to add more “Stuff”. On this ship Royal Caribbean added the Flow Rider on the rear of the ship. The flow Rider is a water ride that lets you surf in place as water shoots up an incline. This proves to be very challenging but lots of fun! The also added a boxing ring. Why they added a boxing ring is beyond me, but I guess there are some people that will use it. During our cruise, I did not see anyone in the Boxing Ring.

The food in the main dining room was very good. They now have regular 1st and 2nd set seating plus “Anytime Dining”. With the regular dining, you are assigned a table and a time to eat. With Anytime Dining, you can eat anytime between 630PM to 9PM but, you have to make reservations for a time and you do not have the same people at your table for the week. I really like to have a large table with the same people all week as that’s what cruising is all about. I have met many good life long friends on cruise ships over the years and most of them were out table mates at dinner.

Royal Caribbean has also put a Large Video Screen out by the pool area. It was a nice addition and added to the fun of the pool area. There is a lot to like about this ship. They have a great crew and a wonderful attitude.

Posted in Allure Of The Seas, Art Auctions at Sea, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, food, Haiti, islands, luggage, Oasis of the Seas, restaurant, royal caribbean, ships, Transportation, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

United Airlines Fails in Customer Service……

Posted by thetraveldoctor on June 10, 2012


A United Airlines 737 At The Gate

United Airlines new 737 at Gate

I flew on United Airlines on June 8, 2012 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and then on to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Needless to say it was the trip that would make anyone scream!!! The letter below is to the CEO of United Airlines Jeff Smisek. I have mailed this letter to him and I will let you know what his response is.

Enjoy, as you just can’t make up a story like this one……

June 8, 2012

Mr. Jeff Smisek
CEO United Airlines, Inc.
77 West Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL 60601

Dear Mr. Smisek,

I am a very frustrated customer. I am currently sitting in the Los Angeles airport waiting for the next flight to Chicago because I missed my connection due to no fault of my own. I have started this letter in Los Angeles at LAX airport and will finish it at home in Chicago.

Here is my story. I was booked on United 968 from Las Vegas to Chicago at 11:35PM. My reservation number is MY7XMZ. I was in Las Vegas on business and I finished very early, so I decided to catch an earlier flight home so I could sleep in my own bed instead of sleeping on the plane. So I used the United app on my iPhone and I paid $75 to change my current later flight 968 to flight 197 at 4:10PM to LAX connecting to flight 704 at 6:01PM in LA to Chicago. This would get me home just before midnight and I could have a good nights sleep in my own bed.

This is where the nightmare begins. I arrive at the Las Vegas Airport at 2PM. This is plenty of time to get through security and get to the gate area. I arrived at the gate area at about 2:25PM and I sat down in the gate area to wait for the flight. At 3:30PM I noticed that the aircraft had not arrived, so I started to become concerned. The aircraft arrived about 10 minutes later and we began to board at 4PM. I walked up the gate agent and said to her, “I have a VERY tight connection, do you think I should get on the Plane?” She looked up the connecting flight and told me, Oh, you will make it. I asked if my connecting flight was in the same terminal as my arriving flight from Las Vegas. She said, “Yes it is, don’t worry you will make it!” So I proceeded to board.

I entered the aircraft and I told the flight attendant that I had a VERY, VERY TIGHT CONNECTION, and asked if she could help me out getting off the plane when we landed? She said to me, and I quote “Oh it doesn’t work that way, when we land everybody stands up in the Aisle.” That was not what I expected to hear, in fact I was taken back by her statement. What happened to a little customer service? All I wanted was to be able to be the first one off the plane so I could maybe have a chance, slim as it was, of making my connection. I was taken back by the flight attendant, I said to here “OK” and I proceeded to  find my seat in the rear of the aircraft.  We sat at the gate. And sat, and sat and when it got to be 4:35PM and we were still at the gate I pushed the call button. A flight attendant came to my row and asked what the problem was. I told her that I had a very tight connection and now I know I will miss my flight. I asked if I could get off the plane and have an agent rebook me on another flight out of Las Vegas. The look I received from this flight attendant was that of “How dare you ask to get off the plane.” What the flight attendant proceeded to do was scold me for getting on the plane in the first place and that if I wanted to get off the plane that I would inconvenience this full airplane of people as they would have to match every bag to every passenger. Now I did not have any checked luggage. I had my small carry-on and my computer. So I was about to say forget it to the attendant when she says to me, I will just have to talk to the Captain  and she walked to the front of the aircraft.

It is now 4:40PM and we start to push back. The flight attend comes back to me after we have pushed back and stopped and announces to me. “The Captain has stopped the plane for you.” I looked at her and I said, “FORGET IT! I AM NOT MAKING THIS PLANE GO BACK TO THE GATE.” I felt two feet tall after she scolded me. She went back up the front of the plane and we proceeded to taxi to the runway. The passengers around me consoled me and said, that was not very nice of that fight attendant to do that to you.

We were in the air at about 5:05PM. The captain came over the speaker system and said our flight time was about 45 minutes. So I looked at my watch and figured that if I could get off the flight and run I could make the flight with about 2 minutes to spare. We landed and taxied to the gate area and stopped short of the gate waiting for an aircraft to clear the taxi way. So now I am really concerned. We get to the gate area and I can see that my connecting flight is still at the gate and they were loading the last of the bags. I say to myself, well that flight is not in the same terminal, it was in the next terminal and I don’t know if I could make a mad dash for the plane once I got off. Well, we stopped at the gate and everyone popped up and left me in the rear of the aircraft. Did the flight attendant say “We have a passenger that needs to make a tight connection, please let him out first.” NO, I stood in the Aisle for 14 minutes as everyone took their time to get off the plane. When I did eventually get off the plane, I looked out the terminal window across to the other terminal and saw the jetway was pulled away from the plane. I asked the gate agent to call over to Gate 83. She did and told me the plane is ready to push back. I was furious! I just paid $75 to miss my plane. And no one at United seemed to give a dam. The gate agent said, “Walk over to the customer service desk and get rebooked.” No, “I am really sorry you missed your connection.” Just go get your flight rebooked across the hallway.

This is the worst customer service I have seen in a long time. And I watched you on the in flight TV screen saying “I wish I could greet each and everyone of you and personally shake your hand and thank you for flying United.” Well your company failed me big time. Here is what I would have done if I worked for United. I would have never let me board the plane in the first place and I would have rebooked me on another flight from Las Vegas or let me off the plane first and have one of the golf carts at LAX waiting for me to take me over to gate 83 and call over to flight 704 and tell them I was on the way. I guess what really upset me was that no one cared, no one gave a dam. The only one that had any sympathy for me was the really nice agent at the customer service desk that rebooked my flight. She was the only one that cared, but after what I went through, it was little consolation.

I was rebooked on United Flight 1451 at 7:30PM. I returned to Gate 70 to wait for my new flight to Chicago. I boarded Flight 1451 at 705PM. I was thinking of telling the flight attendant on this new flight when I boarded, “Can You please be nice to me because the last crew didn’t treat me very well.” Well, that went out the window when I saw the flight attendant crew on this Chicago flight was the exact same crew that was on the Las Vegas – LA flight that treated me like dirt. I have to tell you that when I saw the same crew again, the anxiety I experienced on my first flight returned. So I decided to just go to my seat and avoid all contact with the flight attendants during this flight.

Some people want to just complain and not tell you what they want you to do. Well, that’s not me. Here is what I want you to do. I want my $75 refunded to me by way of a credit to my credit card for $75. I had not flown United in a while because I have been flying Southwest. Why do I fly Southwest? Because they know how to treat their customers and they really do give a dam about all of there customers and the “Get It!” I decided to try United again and thought that the merger with Continental would change the airline for the better as I have always liked flying Continental. Boy was I wrong! You have a long road to travel before your service is back to just good. If you want to know what knock you socks off customer service is, look at Zappos. They also have it all right. They know how to treat their customers.

I hope to hear from you soon. And I really hope that you, Mr. Smisek will read and respond to this letter. I hope that you do, it would prove to me that you really meant what you said in your pre-flight announcement. And you really care about everyone of your passengers.

In closing, you have a lot of work to do to bring your airline back. Just remember, ”It’s all about the CUSTOMER!” If you give your customers great customer service then even when things go wrong, your customer will tell you that you went that extra mile for them to make it right! And they will be your customers for life. Let’s see if you can make that happen. For your sake, I hope you can.

 

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, economy, first class, Las Vegas, luggage, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

When A Good Air Fare Deal is Not A Good Deal

Posted by thetraveldoctor on May 16, 2012


Southern California

Out of the Window of a Southwest 737 over Southern California

You see an ad for low low airfares. You log on to the Airline web site and find that the deal you saw advertised is not what you thought. It happens more then you want to admit. So how do you really get a low fare that really is a good value? You need to do your homework and compare fares on different airlines. Bing fare search engine is a great place to start. It will give you the lowest fares to your destination on multiple airlines, but if you want to compare the results to Southwest, you will need to go on to the Southwest web site as Southwest only lists their fares on their own web site.

Remember when you compare your fares you have to take into account the “Extra Fees” imposed by the airlines. These extra fees include checked bags, on board meals, pre reserved seats and so on. Airlines make millions of dollars every year on these fees. What once was included with your ticket is no an “EXTRA” cost item. One of the few airlines that does not charge for bags or food on their aircraft is Southwest. So before you book your ticket, add up all the “Extras” and then make your decission. You will save time and money in the long run.

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Credit Cards, luggage, pillows, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Delta Orders 100 New Boeing 737-900ER Aircraft

Posted by thetraveldoctor on September 3, 2011


New Delta 737-900ER

The New Delta 737-900ER

Delta Airlines announced on August 25, 2011 that it had ordered 100 Boeing 737-900ER aircraft from Chicago Based Boeing Corporation. These aircraft will be for delivery between 2013 and 2018. These aircraft will replace older planes in the Delta fleet.

The order will enable Delta to add 100 fuel-efficient, state-of-the-art 180 seat aircraft to its world wide fleet, replacing on a capacity-neutral basis older technology aircraft that will be retired from the fleet. The new Boeing 737’s will have a range of 3,200 nautical miles and will be able to operate on any domestic route offered by Delta.

The new 737-900ER will be Delta’s first aircraft to feature Boeing’s new “Sky Interior,” which offers expanded carry-on luggage space, a roomier, more airy cabin and an LED lighting system that provides different color schemes, such as a soft blue sky and a relaxing pallet of sunset colors throughout the aircraft.

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, Business Class, Coach, first class, news, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

AA Ups the Fees To Reserve A Window or Aisle Seat

Posted by thetraveldoctor on August 30, 2011


American Airlines with seats to sell

American to charge extra for Window & Aisle seats

Just when you think the airlines can’t think of anything else to charge you for AA finds a new twist! Yes that’s right, AA introduced a new “Preferred Seats” charge. So if you want a window or aisle seat toward the front of the economy section you are going to have to anti up more cash. It’s now not good enough that you paid $300 for the air ticket, now they want you to pay a fee to sit down!  These “Preferred Seats” will begin at $4 per flight segment and will vary based on length of flight and time of day. So if you take a prime time flight from let’s say Chicago to Los Angeles, you could pay $15 or more for a window or aisle seat. Talk about a rip off!

I don’t understand what these airlines are thinking. They are nickeling the public to death. I don’t know where it will stop. The next charge will be $25 to get off the airplane and $10 if you want to stand the entire way.

Keep up the good work American. You should win an award for the worst customer service. Your matto should be “We’re not happy until your unhappy!”

Posted in airplane, airports, bags, Business Class, Credit Cards, economy, first class, luggage, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Viva Elvis At The Aria Hotel Las Vegas – A Review

Posted by thetraveldoctor on June 10, 2011


Viva Elvis show at Aria Hotel

Viva Elvis show at Aria Hotel

I had the opportunity to see the Viva Elvis Circ Du Sole show at the Aira Hotel at City Center in Las Vegas during my visit to Las VI had the opportunity to see the Viva Elvis Circ Du Sole show at the Aira Hotel at City Center in Las Vegas during my visit to Las Vegas on May 17, 2011. I had not heard much about the show, but I enjoy the music of Elvis and thought it would be a worth while investment of time and money.

I purchased my tickets from Tix4Tonight, which is a discount ticket office that has locations along the strip. They sell the unsold tickets for shows in Las Vegas for up to 50% off box office prices. I have been using Tix4Tonight for a number of years now and always have had a very good experience with them.  As in the past, I received a very good deal.

The Viva Elvis Theater is located on the upper level of the Casino at the Aria Hotel, a large but comfortable room with very good sight lines throughout. The show itself follows Elvis from the beginning of his singing career to his last days in Las Vegas. It is narrated by “The Colonel” who makes his entrance at a desk that floats in from stage left about 25 feet in the air.  Some entrance!

The show is fast moving with non-stop action, 90 minutes with no intermission. A large video screen is used very effectively throughout the entire show, showing historical clips of Elvis during the early days such as his induction into the military. The Jail House Rock number opens with a full 3 story cell block on stage, where the cast swings and slides between levels. A very visually exciting scene.  The show ends with an elaborate Old Style Vegas show girl set. Lots of Glitz, Lights and Special Effects.

The next time you are in Las Vegas, spend an evening with Elvis at Aria. You will be glad you did!

Posted in Ace Gold Line, bus, Credit Cards, deuce bus, Deuce Bus Las Vegas, duce, economy, first class, food, Hotels, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Strip, luggage, pillows, restaurant, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Royal Caribbean Updates Crown & Anchor Loyalty Program

Posted by thetraveldoctor on January 28, 2011


Royal Caribbean Ship at Anchor

Royal Caribbean Ship at Anchor at Labadee

On January 21, 2011, Royal Caribbean updated and enhanced it cruise Loyalty program. The program called the Crown & Anchor Society gives frequent cruisers the ability to earn point and special benefits on current and future cruises.

The old program counted how many past cruises you sailed on to figure your benefits. The new program now counts how many days you sail. So if you are on a 3 night cruise, you will receive 3 points. If you are on a 10 night cruise, you will receive 10 points. So you now are rewarded based on the number of days you have sailed with Royal Caribbean and not just the number of cruises. Now if you purchase a suite, you get double the points. So if you sail in a suite for 10 nights, you receive 20 points. So you now have an incentive to book a suite as you double your point total on that cruise.

The new program also added two new levels of recognition. Under the old program the levels were Gold, Platinum, Diamond & Diamond Plus. The new program adds the Emerald Level and the Pinnacle Club Level. So the new program is now Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club. The number of points needed for each level is as follows

Gold – 3 points   Platinum – 30 points  Emerald – 55 points  Diamond – 80 points  Diamond Plus – 175 points  Pinnacle Club – 700 points

Under the Pinnacle Club they have added a free 7 night cruise when you reach a certain level. This is a great incentive to sail with Royal Caribbean as often as possible.

I am looking forward to checking out the new Crown & Anchor program on my next cruise which is coming up quickly. I will let you know how it was when I return.

Check out the program here http://www.royalcaribbean.com/cas/benefitsLoggedout.do;jsessionid=00009y8VJBAow9ZtIhLR3VFmCjo:15lbbpnkd

Posted in Allure Of The Seas, Art Auctions at Sea, Brilliance of The Seas, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, food, Haiti, islands, Oasis of the Seas, Panama Canal, restaurant, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations, Voyager of The Seas, Wifi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Carnival Splendor Adrift after Engine Room Fire

Posted by thetraveldoctor on November 9, 2010


Carnival Splendor At Sea

Carnival Splendor At Sea

Early in the morning of Monday November 8, the Carnival Splendor experienced an engine room fire. The ship had left the port of Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon headed for a 7 night Mexico cruise.

The fire was contained to the engine room  and extinguished and no passenger or crew members were hurt. But the Splendor lost all power and was adrift in the Pacific about 200 miles south of San Diego off the northern Baja California coast. Currently the ship is running on auxiliary power which allowed the toilets and cold running water to be restored but there is no air conditioning or hot water on the ship.

Two Mexican seagoing tugboats contracted out of the port of Ensenada are expected to reach the cruise ship some time on Tuesday November 9th. The tugs, which will be escorted by a Coast Guard Cutter will tow the ship to the Port of  Ensenada Mexico. The tugs have to move slowly because the Splendor is so large.

Passengers will be taken by bus back to the Port of Los Angeles. Carnival will be offering the passengers a full refund and a voucher for a free future cruise according to a Carnival spokes person.

UPDATE! The Splendor is being towed to the Port Of San Diego in California instead of the Port of Ensenada in Mexico. The ship is expected to arrive in San Diego late afternoon on Thursday, November 11. This will make it easier for the passengers to leave the ship due to custom regulations.

The Carnival Splendor is now docked in San Diego California. The ship was pulled and pushed into the Port of San Diego by six tugboats and escorted by US Coast Guard Cutters. The Splendor reached the dock at approximately 8:30AM PST on Thursday November 11. The first passenger were able to leave the ship at 9:30AM.

The Splendor cruise director, John Heald, posted in his Carnival Blog “While still a day from port, I don’t smell of roses at the best of times but as the laundry is not working and I only have two pairs of  underpants left, I smell like Paris on a hot summer’s day. That’s Paris the city not Paris the person.” Well said John!

And then there is always someone that knows how to make a quick buck. Lissa Letts of Overland, Kansas drove to San Diego to meet the ship to sell passengers T-Shirt that said “I Survived The 2010 Carnival Cruise Spamcation.” Passengers paid $20 for each shirt, and they went like ” A Ship on Fire!”

Posted in Allure Of The Seas, Brilliance of The Seas, caribbean, Carnival, cruise line, cruises, luggage, Oasis of the Seas, royal caribbean, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Delta Now Running Chicago New York Shuttle

Posted by thetraveldoctor on September 11, 2010


Delta Regional Jet

Delta Regional Jet on Runway

Delta Airlines launched new shuttle service from Chicago O’Hare to New York’s LaGuardia airport on June 14. The shuttle service offers 11 daily roundtrips linking Chicago and New York City. The flights depart LaGuardia on the hour between 7AM and 8PM. The Chicago flights depart at 5 minutes after the hour. The new service is operated by Delta’s regional partner Shuttle America using regional jet aircraft.

Posted in airlines, luggage, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US Passport Fees Are Going UP!

Posted by thetraveldoctor on July 10, 2010


The US Passport office will officially increase the price of a United States Passport on Tuesday July 13, 2010. The new fees will raise the price of a passport by approximatly $35. The chart below outlines the new fees.

Remember, you need a passport to leave the United States. You cannot travel to a foreign country on your drivers licenses. It amazes me that people in the US think that they don’t need a passport to travel around the world.

But get you passport before July 13 and you will save $35!

Passport Fee Chart

Passport Fee Chart

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, cruise line, cruises, Europe, first class, Government, islands, Mexico, Oasis of the Seas, Panama Canal, politics, royal caribbean, ships, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations, Voyager of The Seas | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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