Traveling After the Jabs

My husband, Jonathan Katz, and I have traveled eight weeks in a row and have flown on 18 plane flights since the end of February, after not traveling for a year, we felt safe to travel domestically. After our second Moderna jab, we waited two weeks as recommended to obtain the full immunity. Our initial adventure began in Stuart, Florida. Our first plane flight felt as if we had just been let out of prison. We were confused when offered different seats in that every seat is a good seat now without the middle seat booked. We flew in and out of Miami from JFK.

Our first stop was at the Hutchinson Island Marriott in Stuart, Florida. Since we are Marriott Titanium Members with Bonvoy, we try to stay as many times as possible at Marriotts. This first covid hotel stay is where we realized that things have definitely changed. The outdoor restaurant was open but limited, and the only restaurant opened for breakfast was inside only. We have not eaten at inside restaurants until recently, but without Marriott providing breakfasts anymore we have found many cute café restaurants in town for outside breakfasts along the way. At all Marriotts, there is no maid service until you check out, and of course the elevators are restricted for social distancing and masks are required indoors at all times. 

Next up on this trip was Sunny Isles Residence Inn, where we enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach. This hotel was near perfect and provided the standard breakfast. The final stop on this initial trip was the Hotel Playa Largo, in Key Largo, Florida, a Marriott Autograph Collection. After a terrible check in, where being a Marriott Titanium meant less than nothing, we settled on a minimal room. It was at this hotel that we found that hotels in general were going to be poorly staffed or newly staffed and that this staff would know practically nothing. 

The following week, we went to Asheville North Carolina and spent two nights at the Renaissance Hotel Asheville, a very quaint town. Asheville has many great interesting shops and restaurants and is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are many scenic hiking trails and waterfalls to visit. Once again this hotel was way off from standard Marriott expectations. 

Next stop was back to Miami and we spent two nights at the Courtyard Adventura. Here we continued to discover the new standard that Marriott Titaniums received instead of some type of breakfast, a very low point credit. On our trip back to JFK, because of Covid expedited construction, there was virtually nothing open in the Terminal 2 at Fort Lauderdale Airport. Delta has been serving a sandwich bag consisting of a small bottle of water and a bag of nuts and a big biscotti cookie. When we landed at JFK, nothing was open because of covid oriented reduction of flights. We could have been smarter by having some type of dinner before the flight.

Continuing on our travel spree, our next trip was to Los Angeles and ultimately Palm Springs. We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel located in downtown Palm Springs. The weather in Palm Springs is incredibly consistent in the Winter and Spring with temps in the mid 70’s and clear, sunny, dry conditions. Palm Springs is surrounded by mountains and offers great hiking trails. The hotel was beautiful but with same covid issues on eating, maid service and elevator restrictions. 

Our next destination was Tampa, but we did not stay in a Bonvoy hotel but at a special resort that we had not been to in 16 years. This was a private resort with less restrictions; open pools and indoor and outdoor eating. 

Our next trip was to Washington DC to visit my husband’s parents who are buried in Arlington cemetery. We were surprised to see that the military guards that direct traffic have been replaced by commercial guards(not sure if this is covid oriented). We have been to Washington DC many times in the past but on this trip we did something different, visiting both the National Botanical Gardens for the Cherry Blossoms and we were able to visit Great Falls National Park in Great Falls, VA(30 minutes out of Washington), seemingly one of the few national parks that were open at the time.

That evening we wanted to go by Washington Metro to an outside restaurant near Georgetown. We had not been in the subway at New York City since last year. When we went to the Washington Metro, we found the station virtually empty. After several Yellow Line train passed and no Blue Line Trains entered the station, we found out that seemingly because of covid and the low volume of metro riders, that the Blue Line is under construction until mid May.

This was our first opportunity to use Uber and it was successful. We need to point out that our one night stay at the Marriott Crystal Gateway Hotel, was the first time we felt that we stayed at a real Marriott Hotel. The M Club was open and bars and the indoor pool were open and it was nice to be back.

For the third time in 6 weeks, we returned back to Miami, and the Courtyard Inn Adventura, and we have been getting used to covid hotel stays and restrictions. 

This week we went to San Diego and La Jolla. The flights both ways were absolutely empty as was the airport(the Delta and United Airport Clubs were closed) and the downtown area totally devoid of cars and people. 

During our post covid vaccination run, we have basically flown both Delta and JetBlue. Two airline concepts that have wonderfully been missing during this period, has been sitting in a middle seat and not having any space for carry on luggage. Also missing have been any type of air traffic delays due to the lower volume of planes in the sky. In fact just about all of our flights have landed up to a half hour early. Generally I have felt very safe healthwise on all of our flights. There is always an issue with boarding and de-planning the aircraft, concerning social distancing. Almost all passengers complied with wearing their masks during the flights when not eating or drinking. 

Please note that we understand that we have been in a pandemic and we did not expect perfect conditions either in the sky or at a hotel or restaurant, but all in all, traveling since the jabs has been a good experience. 

We were always avid international travelers and hopefully soon, we will fly to Saint Martin as our first international destination in over a year. We are COMPELLED to go.

Maureen Katz has worked in the airline industry for 37 years and is currently retired. She has worked for eight different airlines, three of which were startup companies, and participated in the FAA Proving Runs, leading to FAA Certification. Her positions included Flight Attendant, Customer Service Agent, Flights Operations and the last 27 years as an Airline Dispatcher. JetBlue was the final carrier in her career and she was one of its “founders”. Maureen and another crew member assisted in training and formulating dispatch policies and procedures, allowing JetBlue to begin its operations. In addition to Maureen having a FAA dispatch license, she also possesses a commercial pilot license with instrument and multi-engine ratings.

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