Month: February 2018

Review of the Marriott Miami Airport

Remember being 12 and going to a sleep-over at your friend’s house? Remember how you didn’t sleep and there was an incessant stream of giggles?

Now imagine doing that when you are 37 and you are having that sleep-over with your husband AND two of your friends. That would basically sum up the night before the cruise. This all sounds weird so I’m going to start at the beginning.

My husband collects lots of stuff, but among the most useful are his Marriott points. In my last post about our cruise, I talked about flying on Delta, his Delta Miles and the perks that come from all the flying he does. Well, along with that flying generally comes a hotel stay. And he stays in Marriotts to earn points that we can use toward other stays. They add up! Last spring we stayed in Tulsa for a week in a studio hotel room with a kitchen without paying a dime. They are totally useful.

We needed to fly into Miami the night before the cruise so that we were there in time to board at noon. That meant we needed to stay overnight in Miami. We knew we were getting in at about midnight and leaving by 9 a.m., so the four of us made the executive decision to get one room. We figured we could save some points, and really, it wasn’t like we needed the room for anything more than a few hours of sleep.

We went back and forth about where to stay, near the airport or downtown. We ultimately made a reservation at the Marriott Miami Airport. They had a shuttle that we could grab when our flight came in, saving us a few bucks, and then we’d just pay for an Uber or Lyft to the cruise terminal.

We must really like each other because the four of us agreed to share a hotel room for a night. What we didn’t expect was a hot rooms with small beds.

This was the plan until just a few days before the cruise. My husband had the foresight to check the reservation in the Marriott app. Our room had been canceled. It wasn’t really clear why. We had made the reservation months ago. My husband was convinced this was a sign that we should just stay downtown instead. He was certain the J.W. Marriott in downtown Miami would be nicer, but we convinced him to save a buck and stay at the Marriott Miami Airport because of the shuttle. He figured out the issue and re-booked. It seemed everything was fine.

After we arrived at Miami Airport, we easily got on the shuttle for the hotel. The ride was short and quick. We were the first stop in the few Marriott hotels that were near the airport.

We walked in the door and it was like hitting a wave of sound. There were people all over the lobby wearing shirts that said #ShoppingAnnuity on the back. I’ve looked it up. I don’t get it. But I also saw many of them on our cruise so I think some of those same people were on the boat with us. They were so loud in the lobby of the hotel that night. And it seemed to echo as the hotel was under construction and had a large wooden wall in the lobby making it 1) smaller and 2) filled with flat, echo-y surfaces.

My husband checked us in fairly easily and we headed up to our room. The lobby and halls to the elevator were just crawling with people. What were all of these people doing in the lobby of the Marriott Miami Airport at midnight?

We rolled through the hallways and got to our room. We opened the door and we were transported back in time. The room was super dated. The bathroom was really dated. The beds were at about shin-height. And what were these? Full-size beds? Yup. Oh and it was hot, so we turned the air down right away.

It was only a few hours though so I figured I could tough it out.

We all got ready and settled into bed. Of course we were all keyed up by the flight and then the super hot room. So we turned on Netflix. The only part of the room that was updated was the TV. We were able to log into my Netflix account and watch two episodes of “Life in Pieces,” which my dad has been trying to get me to watch forever.

Side note: That show was funny! The chick that gave birth. The dad that planned his own funeral-themed birthday party. The girlfriend who lives with her ex-fiance. Yeah, it was all really funny.

After two episodes, I flipped off the TV and let out a sigh. It was completely dark in our room. We all laid still for a few minutes. Then someone laughed. Then Jeremiah, one of our traveling friends, started laughing. Then my husband laughed. The next thing we know, we were all laughing and comparing it to a  middle-school sleep-over. (Not that I ever want to hear about a co-ed middle school sleep-over.)

It was nearly 1:30 a.m. so we all tried to fall asleep.

I was asleep pretty quickly despite the tight quarters. I woke up once when our friends were up to use the bathroom and turn down the heat…again. It was super hot in that room.

The only photo of the Marriott Miami Airport exterior that I could find online. Lots of the Courtyard, but none of the Marriott.

At about 4 a.m., our friend Katie was up for the day. That’s her typical wake up time. I was up for a few minutes with her but then zonked back out for a bit. We all laid in bed and tried to sleep until about 6 a.m. The excitement was too much and those beds were too small.

We took turns showering, got dressed and headed down for breakfast.

The night before, my husband had inquired about breakfast. He told the person at the desk that we had a full room, four people, and he wanted to know how many breakfasts were included with the room. He was told that all of us could eat for free. When we got down to the hotel breakfast, we found that was not true. Only two breakfasts were included with our room. Wow, so if we had our kids, we’d have to pay for them?

Whatever. We paid the ridiculous amount for breakfast and headed out. We just wanted to get on with our day and we weren’t going to let a little breakfast wreck the anticipation of the great day ahead of us. We went back up to our room, packed up, called an Uber and headed downstairs to get to the ship by 10 a.m.

Our adventure was actually beginning! We were so excited!

Long story short, we should have gone with my super hotel-picky husband’s gut and stayed at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Miami. The view would have been amazing and the room would have been a lot nicer. Live and learn. Just too bad we wasted those Marriott points.

Delta Flight 2535: Detroit to Miami

I’m not allowed to fly first class anymore.

At least that’s what my husband says.

We flew Delta Flight 2535: Detroit to Miami on Saturday, Feb. 3 to catch a cruise in Florida. We sort of ended up in first class, but according to my husband, I’m not allowed to sit there anymore.

Though he says it in jest. I think.

We had booked these tickets months ago, in fact the same night we booked the cruise. We used miles from our Delta credit card and it cost us all of about $50 to make the trip. We picked out our exit-row seats for a little extra leg-room for my over-six-foot husband.

Then my husband flew Delta to China and back. And to China and back again. That racks up a lot of miles very quickly. He moved to silver status, which apparently comes with perks.

It came time to check-in to our flight to Miami and we weren’t able to complete the process online. My husband loves to check in right at the 24 hour mark. He was super frustrated so he took his frustrations out on Twitter. Some Delta rep responded to his questions right away and we learned the reason we couldn’t check in was because we were upgraded from exit-row to Economy Comfort.

My highly extensive internet searching led me to this:

Economy Comfort seats are the same exact width as normal coach seats, except they have up to 4 inches more of legroom and 50% more recline.

I mean, I guess that’s cool. It wasn’t a huge deal to me because I’m not that tall to begin with and I hardly ever recline my seat because I hate when people do it to me. Maybe I’d care more on a longer flight, but most of the time, it doesn’t matter.

I had my own and only experience in first class on our Delta flight from Detroit to Miami.

What we didn’t realize was that our names were put on a list for first-class seats if that flight didn’t sell out of them. When we went through the Sky Priority luggage check line, the woman at the counter said our odds of first-class seats were slim. Aw, well, the dream was nice while it lasted.

Actually, I had no idea what the dream was as I’d never flown first class before. So really, I had no idea what I was missing.

When we went to board the plane, the screen flashed our initials and said there was a change to our boarding pass. Sure enough, we were bumped up to first class. My husband was really excited. First class wasn’t anything more than sitting at the front end of the tin can hurling us through the sky.

Um, except I was wrong.

First class isn’t just a different set of seats, it’s a different lifestyle.

We were sitting so far forward, I could almost drive the plane. Well, maybe see in the cockpit. Alright, neither of those things, but we were up front.

The moment I sat down (on my seat with a pillow and blanket), there was a flight attendant there asking me, “Mrs. Thomas (yes, they used my name), would you like something to drink?”

I said no. My husband ordered up the first of his Captain and diets. He said, “These drinks are free so get one if you want it.”

I was so nervous about the “hurling us through the sky” part that I thought I might actually hurl into my lap. I passed on the libations. Again, before we were airborne, that attendant came around again and my husband got another drink while I passed.

Take-off was quick and uneventful. And just as the plane started to level off, there was our flight attendant again.

“Mrs. Thomas, can I get you anything?”

I wanted to respond with “a seat on the ground!” but instead I said, “I’ll have a Coke or Pepsi, whatever you have.”

And guys, guess what? It came in an actual glass! I wasn’t given a can and a plastic cup that I would inevitably crush in the seat-back pocket when I was done with my pop. No, this was an actual wash-it-in-the-sink-and-reuse-it glass!

Color me impressed.

Then came the basket of treats. There were things like candy bars and cookies, bananas and some other goodies.

“Mrs. Thomas, would you like a snack?”

“No thank you.”

Cue the look from my husband. As soon as our flight attendant walked away, he said “Don’t you want anything?” I said, “No, we just ate and it’s not a long flight. I’m fine.” He responded with, “But they are free!”

Then he ordered another drink.

And I rolled my eyes.

Check out this GoGoInFlight app. I could see where we were the entire time.

I settled into my seat and loaded up GoGoInFlight, Delta‘s on-board, wifi-based app with movies, a map of the flight, etc. I started Anchorman but decided I wasn’t in the mood and switched over to something I hadn’t seen before, Table 19. I got into the movie and barely noticed most of the flight. After the flight attendant came around a few more times and my husband ordered a few more drinks, I loaded the map. We were already nearing Atlanta!

The moon was rising to my left and I actually stopped my movie to take a few pictures. My camera could no do it justice.

The moon was amazing from first class, though it was just amazing in general.

Another drink for him and back to the movie for me.

With our TMobile plan, we get one hour of wifi on Delta flights. I used that to Facebook message a few friend, including two who were on the flight with us.

Then, turbulence. Like throw the plane around turbulence. I quickly flipped over from the crazy ending of Table 19 to see where we were on the map. Almost to Miami! I could handle the turbulence for a few minutes. We circled around and lined up. We were finally landing.

Before I knew it, we were in Miami and landing at the airport.

Considering that the weather was nice and calm in Miami, our landing was smooth and almost 45 minutes early. We taxied to the gate and, with our first class seats, got off the plane really quickly.

Aside from the vomiting-child we saw getting off the plane, it was uneventful. Yeah, that’s super fun for the chick with emetophobia.

Except, my husband said he wasn’t taking me in first class anymore. Apparently I don’t fully appreciate, or use, the benefits of first class. Like the free drinks and the snacks. So if you ever see my husband in first class, while I am in coach, you’ll understand why.

Side note: We’re super spoiled by our airport in Detroit. It’s clean, it’s modern, it has a ton of restaurants. I was surprised by the lack of…well, anything…in the Miami airport.

We picked up our luggage from baggage claim (this will come up again, turns out, one of our brand-new bags was damaged in flight) and hopped on the shuttle to the hotel.

We were finally in Miami. There was really no turning back! Only 12 hours separated us from the start of our long-awaited cruise vacation. First, though, four adults had to spend the night in one hotel room together. That was fun!