Monthly Archives: May 2013

Milestones & Memories – Memorial Day Weekend 2013

IMG_3327If you look at posts of past, every Memorial Day is generally a milestone weekend for us- wedding anniversary for us (we got married Memorial Day weekend 2005), birthday for my eldest and my brother (same day), and lots of fun events. Last year we spent it with family in Virginia, and this year add to the list: Kindergarten graduation!

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Fiesta Lunch – 3 Margaritas

Our eldest reached a milestone when she graduated Kindergarten this year, and turned 6 years old the day after.  We had her party on Saturday, and her graduating classmates were able to join in on the fun.  It was nice to have friends join in too!   What a truly memorable weekend.  Being in the military, Memorial Day holds a special place in my heart.  It is a weekend of reflection, prayer, and remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.  It is also a weekend of honoring those who still serve.   For our family, it is a special weekend because of all the milestones.  For us, it marks mid-year, and hopefully a renewal of spirit.

Perfect moments are shared so rarely, I wanted to share our perfect Memorial Day weekend- milestones and memories for a lifetime.  We hope yours was as memorable as ours– Happy Memorial Day 2013!

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Frontier Airlines – Tips to Prepare for Upcoming Policy Changes & Fees

Frontier-A new kinda sucky animalAs you may have heard in the news, yet another airline falls prey to scheming ways to essentially rob us, the customer, the consumer.  These changes take effect on July 1, 2013, no matter when you booked your summer travel plans.  But, will these changes affect you? Let’s look at the what their changes are by looking at the verbiage, and I will address each one so you can try to get the best deal possible.  Because Frontier is still Denver-based, it certainly can have an impact on our travels in and out of the Mile High City and especially on how you book your tickets, vacation packages, and cruises.

If you did not get the notice from Frontier, it’s here in full print:  http://news.flyfrontier.com/press-release/general-news/frontier-enhances-services-customers-using-flyfrontiercom 

The gist of the policy changes are as follows:

Carry-on Baggage
As a customer who books your tickets directly on FlyFrontier.com, you will continue to receive a free carry-on bag in the overhead bin. Our customers have told us that finding overhead bin space for carry-on bags has become increasingly difficult, so we will be introducing a fee for carry-on bags for customers who buy Basic fares through third-party websites starting this summer. When these changes take place, you’ll find more space in the overhead bins for your bags.

What does this mean for you?  It means that you have to book on FlyFrontier.com to get a free carry-on in the overhead bin.  It means if you book through a third party website, travel agent, or as part of your cruise or vacation package, AND if your flight is on Frontier, plan on checking bags.  Do not bring a carry-on for the overhead bin.  If you do, check it on-line in advance for $25 to avoid paying $100.   ARE YOU MILITARY FLYING?  Frontier does not talk about military anywhere on its policy or its website about these changes.  Your best bet is to call and ask.  This really is a crappy policy considering how many of us have to book through travel agents, especially when traveling for work.  At least then, your work would pay the fees, and not you.  Still, it is such an arbitrary rule.   As an aside, one thing I have noticed every single time I fly frontier airlines versus other airlines is how freaked out each flight attendant is about the overhead bin space.  They make announcements about the overhead space so many times.  They say it half a dozen times before you board, another few times before you even sit down, and then a dozen more times, as if the overhead bin space was some sacred, magic location.  Seriously?   Also, how is charging for it going to make it any less of a problem?  People will either pay on-line or stuff everything into a duffel and stuff a bunch of things under the seats.  I do not think the underlying issue will be resolved at all, and thus, Frontier, you may be even more drastic in the future.  Here is a solution, Frontier:  Just stop serving customers- overhead bin problem solved.

Checked Bags
When you buy a Classic or Classic Plus ticket, you will continue to receive two free checked bags, regardless of where you booked. For Basic and Economy tickets booked on or after June 1, 2013 for travel on or after July 11, 2013, the fee to check a first bag will remain $20 when purchased during online check-in at FlyFrontier.com. However, the fee will increase to $25 when purchased at airport check-in. Second bag fees for Economy and Basic bags remain unchanged at $20.

What does this mean for you?   It means the same as before.  Frontier does this crazy form of “class” discrimination and as I stated before in a separate post, economy seats are akin to lepers.   You have to continue to be Classic or classic plus to get that free bag allowance, but now the only change is that it will be $25 at the airport – $5 more.  So, I guess they want you to do it on-line.  Again, I do not see this solving the problem at all of reducing carry-ons, freeing overhead bin space, and seems very arbitrary.  ARE YOU MILITARY?  Again, no official word I have seen on that.  If you see something, please share it here for our readers.  I am assuming military with ID will still continue to get checked bags free but we will see.

Onboard Beverages
Onboard beverages will continue to be free for customers who purchase Classic and Classic Plus fares, when you show your boarding pass to a flight attendant. Effective July 1, 2013, customers who purchase Economy or Basic fares will be charged $1.99 for coffee, tea, soda and juice. All customers will now receive a full can of soda or juice and customers choosing coffee will be offered free refills. In addition, we will be making improvements to our beverage selection, including introducing a premium tea brand and Boyer’s coffee, a premium Colorado brand.

What does this mean for you?   This is a big change for those who book economy seats because now, that tiny little ice-filled cup of soda or water that you get will no longer be presented.  For me, it is no big deal because I carry my water bottle on board, and do the same for the kiddos.  But this can affect lots of passengers.  My recommendation is to bring your Eco-friendly, or refillable water bottles for your whole family, and after security, fill it up.  Also, buy your soda or beverage before you go on board, and keep it in the seat pocket in front of you.  If it spills, so be it, right?  I view this as “nickle and diming” your customers, but others agree with this change because they think it will keep their costs of a ticket low.  I do not think that is the case because the Airlines will always claim they are in trouble no matter what is going on, and a small cup of water/soda does not break the bank of a multimillion business of transporting passengers across the country.  Anyway, bring your own beverage, and if you end up needing a drink on board, I guess at $1.99 per can, it’s a bargain!  Bring a credit card- Frontier is a cashless cabin.

EarlyReturns® Mileage Earnings for Base Members
All EarlyReturns members who book on FlyFrontier.com will continue to earn a minimum of 100% of their miles flown. Beginning July 1, 2013, we will change the mileage accrual rate for customers who purchase a Basic fare on a third-party website from 50% to 25% of miles flown. Economy, Classic and Classic Plus ticket holders will continue to receive 100%, 125% and 150% of miles flown, respectively — another reason to always book your travel at FlyFrontier.com.

What does this mean for you?   This is by far the biggest impact change for those who go through a travel agent or have to book through their corporate travel agency.  If you book through Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak, Orbitz, etc., you will only get a percentage of the miles flown.  If you book through FlyFrontier you get 100% of the miles.  This will affect corporate travelers the most or those who perhaps book a vacation or cruise package through travelcostco.com, and other such sites.  It is a crappy move, as I see it because it costs them nothing to give miles to people who fly those miles but Frontier.com continues to find ways to lose customers.  Giving someone the miles they have legitimately earned costs them nothing, and gains loyalty.  This move is so confusing to me and why Frontier continues to evolve into this European-type airline, I do not get.  My tip to you is if you are affected by this rule change is to pick a different airline to fly when you book your cruise/vacation package or make sure you are going to receive 100% of the miles through your corporate booking agent/travel agent. 

My bottom line tip to you if these changes impact you is to fly with other airlines especially Southwest Airlines.  The market governs our economy and you are the market.

How is your experience with Frontier and what are your opinions?  Feel free to share your experiences with Frontier in the comments below.

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Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

Rainy Day Big EasyWe made a family trip to New Orleans for fun last weekend, and even though I brought back some crud with me (or, I got it when I returned here), we had a blast!  We stayed at the New Orleans Marriott on Canal Street, just blocks away from everything!  There is one thing I noticed this time that I had not before- New Orleans is not kid-friendly.  Before when we went, they were in strollers or the Baby Bjorn, so it was easier.  This time, both were walking (we are trying stroller weaning), and one of my kiddos can read.  Yep- you know what I am about to say next.  The shops carry the most inappropriate shirts and items with words like, “B__CH 1” and “B__CH 2” and you know it is even worse than that.   So, there is my almost 6-year old, with proud mamma, sounding out the words, “show me your ….” on a T-shirt.  She asks, “mommy, what does that word say?”  It didn’t end there.  IMG_3281So, I guess New Orleans is not as kid friendly as I thought.  Granted, had we stayed Uptown, or on the West Bank, or Metairie, or near a suburb, it would have been fine but, we were smack dab in the middle of sin city.

Marriott PoolsAll that aside, I wanted to share some fun pics from our trip and tell you more about the New Orleans Marriott.  First, it has two heated outdoor pools- need I say more?  One is kid entry, so they can stand up in it and just have fun for hours.  Second, there is a separate pool for those crazy love birds you feared would end up in the room next door to you.  So, your kids can remain segregated from all the “action.”  The New Orleans Marriott is conveniently located on Canal Street and Chartres, one block from Decatur Street, and a few blocks from the infamous Bourbon Street.  The staff there is amazing.  Simply amazing.  We were lucky with our corner room on the side which is IMG_3254called “riverfront tower”, and we got an amazing view of the Quarter, and the Mississippi.  The Natchez Steamboat tooted its horn daily for our enjoyment, and we could enjoy barges passing by.  The city view at night of New Orleans, and the Crescent City Connection were magnificent as well.  I recommend the New Orleans Marriott because they do treat you like royalty there with southern charm one can only find in Night BridgeN’awlins.  Parking is $35 per day plus tax so that is the only downside, but you can park at Harrah’s nearby if you are planning to gamble for at least 30 minutes a day on a player’s card.  That is 0.3 miles away from this locationIMG_3270.*

Cafe Du Monde- my favorite place of all, except on weekend mornings when there are lines so long, you will Beignetswant to scream, “BEIGNET!”  I definitely recommend eating there after dinner on a weeknight or after dinner when everyone else is on Bourbon Street acting crazy.  Just don’t wear black, and bring your patience because it takes them sometime to serve you (just depends on who you get).

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Gumbo Shop’s tasty white beans and rice
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Vegetarian Eggs Benedict- Feelings Cafe

I love, love, love strolling along the river.  We did not do the Aquarium of the Americans or Audubon Zoo this trip but they are great places to go especially with kids.  If you want to hit the West Bank, take the ferry across and it is a fun ride on the mighty Mississippi.  The City Park is a street car ride away, and the New Orleans Museum of Art is super cool.  I already visited the WW II Museum on another trip here but it is a must see.  A few places we loved to eat at and I had never tried some before- we loved The Gumbo Shop located in the Quarter.  They have vegetarian options too and their white beans and rice, wow!  To die for.  Hubby had a po-boy and loved it.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the Mother’s Day brunch we had at Feelings Cafe located in the Marigny, a quaint, older revived neighborhood.  They have vegan options which says a lot to me.

We were blessed because on this trip to New Orleans, my in-laws were with us, and stayed a few feet away, so on Saturday night, hubby and I got a much needed date night in the city while the grandparents spent time with their grandchildren.  Cathedral_backWe had not been to a fancy restaurant like the one we found in the Quarter since before the kids were born!  We went to Bayona’s in the Quarter, and it was simply put: superb.  I even found a good veggie dish, and the dessert options were yummy-licious.  Hubby and I got a chance to explore Bourbon Street and all the craziness of it, dance a little, and I got my hurricane.  This drink is quite potent and a few sips and knock you off your …. I did not drink the whole thing at all.  The coolest thing about New Orleans is that I could walk with my hurricane to the restaurant, and then take it back to the room- open container? Who cares?  I love this city. Hurricane It is a Libertarian’s dream come true.  You can buy a daiquiri and then walk with it wherever you want.  Notice I said “walk” – you should not be drinking and driving but, if you happen to “drive-thru” a daiquiri stand, remember to poke your straw through your cup after you get to your destination.

Dessert at Bayona's
Dessert at Bayona’s

We didn’t get out to eat at half of the places we wanted to.  And, the Marriott room service was not that bad either just a tad bit pricey.  But sometimes, a momma just needs her room service.  Anyway, all in all, great trip except for our minor emergency trip to Children’s Hospital because my little one landed on a table in our room.  She is usually the careful one so this was a shocker.  But, we were blessed at the treatment we received at that uptown Hospital as well, and in no time, we were back on the road, children’s motrin and all.

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Biscuits from Copeland’s -buttery good

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? (Yes, it’s a song by Louis Armstrong)...  I certainly do know what it means to miss it.

Its a book - love it!
Its a book – love it!

*Please note: This is a personal review- I did not get a compensation in exchange for writing this post for any of the vendors above.  Again, this was a personal, family trip, and not part of a paid campaign. 

Daiquiris - super sweet and super good - available non-alcoholic too
Daiquiris – super sweet and super good – available non-alcoholic too
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Thank YOU For Your Service

I have been traveling a lot lately for my new assignment with the Reserves and that means that sometimes I am in uniform because I go straight to work, or do not have time to change when I head home.

In any case, I have noticed a marked difference in how I am treated when I travel in uniform versus when I do not.  I generally never traveled in uniform prior to doing this job starting in January, so I am writing from limited experience.  People are so kind to me- it is almost embarrassing.  I blush, because I honestly am humbled by it.  I do not feel that I do enough to serve my country, and yet when I travel in uniform, I am treated like a war hero.  In reality, I am a support puke.  Anyway, I know that serving means something different to all, but to me, everyone is in service.  In some form or another, everyone does their part to make our country go, and to make their community a success.  So the guy at TSA who smiles at me, directs me to a special line, and shakes me hand, to say “Thank you for your service,” is also a hero and serves as well – he is a civil servant, working for the Government, with a mission, and his actions affect all of us travelers who go through his line.  Like my post on the Fred Factor, he is a Fred to many who go through his line – his actions have direct impact on many.  He may not know it but when I thanked him for his service, it was not empty or without sincerity.  I meant it.  The flight attendant today, who was also a Fred, was amazing and when he and his fellow flight attendants thanked me for my service as I deplaned today, I also thanked them for theirs.  Without their kindness today, and their understanding, I could have had a miserable flight.  We all serve in some way or another.

Is there a marked difference in how people perceive me or judge me when I travel in uniform as opposed to when I wear sweat pants and a T-shirt?  I am not 100% sure but there is a marked difference I have noticed.  People are kinder, more accommodating and patient.  But, I also know that we all serve, in some form or fashion.  We all serve, with or without a uniform, in or out of the military.  We all sacrifice.  Sure, our military members, police and firefighters may give the ultimate sacrifice in service, but so would anyone in plain clothes- the mother, father, the teacher, and the everyday hero.  It is important for all of us to judge each other as being in “service” to each other, to the nation we love, and for the greater good.  If we did that, it would not matter what we wore when traveling, when walking down the street – we would honor everyone we encounter in the same manner.  Worth, dignity and respect;  it goes so much deeper than the wearing of a uniform.

So, remember, the next time you thank someone for their “service,” thank you for yours as well!

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