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Monday, September 29, 2014

A First Class Exit All the Way - Almost...Saying Goodbye to Jamaica

It's been a fun and very quick week here on the island of Irie but now it's time to go home.

Check out goes smoothly, much better than check-in a week ago, and...just as we really start to get the hang of getting Tim into and out of the car...we put him in for one last trip back to the Montego Bay airport.

One last tip to the bellman who helped us pack the car and off we go.

Checking in at Hertz, the attendant tried to tell me there's a new scratch underneath the front bumper. I don't see anything different than when I picked it up but he keeps insisting. I tell him I've got enough travel insurance to buy the car three times over so go ahead and bill me...I don't care.

Suddenly, he's saying "no worries, I wasn't going to tell the office anyway."

So why bring it up? Was this a little payola scam in the making?  Don't know but he's sweet as pie after that and drives us...well, Tim and Letty the departure terminal. I had to walk because with our luggage, him, my wife and son, there was no more room in the little Corolla.

Going home from the Caribbean for us in L.A. is quite daunting. Unless you're traveling from Puerto Rico, there are no direct flights. It took us 20 hours to get here and it will be about 12 or 13 to get back home with a 3 hour layover in Dallas. Plus, you can see from above that we're leaving just in time as the sky's have opened up and drenched the airport with a thunderstorm.

I'm not looking forward to another, long day of waiting at the gate and squeezing into economy seats for hours on end. I'm going to see what I can do to alleviate it.

First up, I've booked us into Club Mobay, the VIP airport lounge at Sanger International Airport in Montego Bay. Once you've checked in with your airline, all you need to do is find one of the many Club Mobay information hosts at the airport or find their information counter. Admission is $30 if you prebook via their website, $35 at the door.

You're then escorted through a special line in security and taken to the club, who's entrance is about 50 feet from the American Airlines gate we'll be departing from in about 5 hours.

Downstairs, there is very comfortable, living room style seating with free wifi, many TV's, a light buffet, bar, view of the runway, spa, showers, a sports room (with TV's, next to the bar), and soundproofed kids play rooms. 

It's heaven down here and, frankly, I'm half wanting not to leave but leave we must. 

Another good thing I did was when checking in with the American Airlines automated kiosk, I checked for upgrades. Upgrading the Dallas to LAX portion of our flight to first class was a measely $110. 

Not only did this get us out of economy for the second half of our travel day, now our two checked bags were free.  I also told the gate agent that the porters who put Tim on the plane coming to Jamaica complained that the airline put us way back in the plane, making their job much harder and to ask if we could be moved forward.

The gate agent moved us up to the second row of coach which also meant an upgrade to the premium economy with more legroom and make it easier to move around.

After some great food, drink, and relaxation at Club Mobay, we were summoned to our flight (the club staff keeps you informed via announcements and a departure monitor). It was an easy flight to Dallas, where we splurged on a nice, pizza lunch with microbrews at Pizza Vino in terminal D. 

Next to Pizza Vino is the American Express Centurion Lounge. We didn't take advantage of it this time but for $50...or free, if you have a higher level of Amex card...American Express cardholders and their families can have the airport lounge experience we had in Jamaica.

Well rested, fed, and feeling good from our beer, we boarded into the third row of our flight back to LAX, reclined, enjoyed the cocktail service, and caught up on some sleep.

It was a very nice way to return home from a far-flung destination.

At LAX, it was a quick bus ride to our parking lot. Got in the car, turned the key, and...nothing.

Dead battery at a quarter past midnight. 

Oh, well. It was almost a perfect, first-class day. Time to call AAA and call this vacation over.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2014 - Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved

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