Beachcombing

By: 
Jay Beeler

Thinking of jetting off on a vacation this year? You are not alone, because many flights are packed with passengers.

My wife and I flew to Massachusetts last week for the interment of my sister Joyce’s ashes, delayed six months due to the pandemic. It was a good reminder of why there’s no place like home.

The “fun” began last month when we booked our JetBlue direct flights from LAX to Hartford, Conn. (BDL), a 30-minute drive to our final destination of Chicopee, Mass. A week or so later, JetBlue cancelled our LAX-BDL flight, necessitating a plane change in Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) and adding five hours of travel time.

To obtain a five percent VA discount, you must book flights using an agent. The first time on hold was about 45 minutes. The second time on hold – due to them canceling our flight – was 75 minutes.

The good news was that the LAX to FLL Airbus 321 was equipped with USB and 110 vote power sources for charging cell phones and laptops. The bad news was that the A320 from FLL to BDL as well as BDL to LAX did not offer the electrical feature or touch-screen monitors on the seat backs.

Without prior warning our return flight was changed from a 7 p.m. departure to 8 p.m. Had we known of these changes an alternative airline would have been picked. Upon landing at LAX we waited an hour on the taxiway for a gate, which would have never happened if JetBlue stayed in Long Beach.

Given these changes, wait times and poor wi-fi service, JetBlue’s administration deserved a “F” for their performance. Otherwise, the flight and ground crews were great.

 

The next disappointment was Hertz car rental. Instead having everything completed online, they still have 15-20 minutes of wait time at a counter. That was the way things were two decades ago! With other car rental companies, the paperwork is completed well in advance with the shuttle driver dropping you off at your car or any similar car of your choice. Upon return, it’s a quick unloading of the car and back onto a shuttle.

After this long delay we found that our assigned car was missing from its parking spot, necessitating another delay. Hertz earned an “F.” The good news is that they now have a cell phone ap to speed up the process; the bad news is that it is for iPhone and not Android phones.

 

The Marriott Residence Inn was a pleasant surprise with large rooms and a full kitchen. Breakfast came to our doorknob if the form was completed the night before. Some remaining social distancing temporarily took away the lobby buffet line option. They even have a mini grocery store near the front desk offering frozen meals, a wide variety of drinks and numerous snacks.

Their only negative would be housekeeping. They were great on Thursday and Friday, but did not perform their job on Saturday. Residence Inn deserved an A-minus and no tip was left for the maid.

 

A secondary benefit to attending the interment was to see how the Massachusetts Veterans Cemetery – with 78,000 gravesites – handled the arrangements. My sister’s husband, Don, was in the Army and her ashes were placed in an urn, next to his, after his passing in 2009. I envision a similar arrangement for my wife and I at the Riverside Veterans Cemetery or a new one under consideration in Irvine.

Apparently, a local Irvine newspaper is lobbying against a 100-acre site designated for this purpose. Damn those newspaper publishers!

 

publisher@beachcomber.news

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