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Our Radisson Aruba Trip Report June 2011

Getting There

When booking our Aruba travel, having found them to have the best pricing, we have been using MCM/Players Choice Tours for over 11 years. They only sell travel to Aruba and are highly reputable with excellent customer service. Ursala and Guy are always extremely patient in answering any questions we may have. All around they are a pleasure to work with.

When we lived in New Jersey we were able to take advantage of the terrific airfares they bundled into their pricing of Aruba packages. Now living in Atlanta, we are still able to take advantage of MCM/Players Choice Tours fantastic resort package pricing even when we do not purchase our airfare with them. In all these years, we still have yet to find anyone who can beat their pricing on our favorite Aruba resorts.

We arrived at Hartsfield Atlanta and immediately after check in they changed our gate of departure. The time came for flight to board and there was no plane present. Next there was an announcement that the flight was overbooked by 10 people. Delta offered $400 Delta dollars and a flight the next day.

So Delta is offers a $400 voucher good for one year and the discounted fare to Aruba had held steady at $600+ for the past 7 months. There was nothing to be gained there with the exception of one lost day of a vacation and for us, transportation back home and then back to the airport the following morning. No thank you Delta.

Oh wait, we were given another option, fly from Atlanta to JFK, overnight at JFK and then New York and on to Aruba? Again, there was nothing to gain there except a night in a lousy hotel room and another wasted day of vacation. We were thankful we had checked in three and a half hours before our flight. Always check-in early with your airline there is a reason why there is this rule.

Another detail of this story is to warn people to check their flight itinerary at least weekly, if not more often, prior to travel. Before our trip, dh had seen that due to a change in airplane configuration, our seats for the flight were randomly switched. By the time we noticed, there were no longer three seats together anywhere. So we did the best we could, and dd sat on the aisle in the row in front of us.

Upon arrival at the gate, besides annoyance at the flight being oversold, there were now angry passengers who were not going to be seated together as families. Sure enough, we were seated on the plane, dh in a middle seat and I at the window and a 6 or 7 yo girl seated next to him on the aisle. We did not even sit down and the child’s father rushed over, and did not ask, but told us, he wanted us to move so he could sit with his dd and Jerry or I could go sit in the exit row by ourselves.

Neither dh nor I are fans of the exit row because we always store our carry-ons under the seat in front of us. Furthermore, it was going to be extremely difficult for our family to split up. We travel with our own lunch and dh was the one with the sandwiches. By one of us moving, one of us would have then had to play waiter with our own food. And lastly, why should we have to be inconvenienced because this gentleman did not plan ahead and check on his family’s seats prior to departure? In hindsight, maybe if his demeanor had been nicer, but just demanding that we jump at his command was a little over the top. The man ended up sitting next to Jerry and somehow the child was able to sit next to her mother. He did not say a word to Jerry the entire flight, but he made sure everyone on the plane heard his loud phone call to his travel agent or secretary telling them in no uncertain terms, they better make sure the family was seated together on their return flight. I hope it worked out for them.

Again, I write this as a cautionary tale. We are also the same family who has actually had their itinerary changed when Delta decided not to fly at all on Tuesdays. Delta arbitrarily decided our flight home from Aruba would be on Monday instead. Luckily we saw the change in itinerary with enough advance notice that we were able to change the dates of our vacation. We were not going to allow Delta to cheat us out of a day of vacation.

On the up side, our flight arrived on time in Aruba. Queen Beatrix International Airport is a very easy airport to navigate. Delta from Atlanta and Jet Blue from Boston both landed one after the other. By the time we were down to queue for Aruba Immigrations, the lines were backed up the stairs. Luck was with us that day, we were in a short line and for the first time, with the exception of when we have flown business class, our luggage was up and on the carousel waiting for us when we exited immigrations.

I was carrying an unwrapped gift, as required by U.S. T.S.A., in a shopping bag by hand and strolling through Aruba Customs the officer, a female, looked at me and smiled as if she wondered what was in the bag. I stopped and offered to show her. She took a quick peek, smiled once again and waved us on our way.

As soon as we made our airline reservations we emailed “Bully the Taxi Driver”. I have written about him numerous times, most notably Bully- Aruba's Taxi Driver and Bully Again. We always look forward to being greeted by a friendly face at the end of a long journey. Our restaurant reservations were already planned out for each night so in the same email we listed the nights we would require pickups along with the reservation time.

As we exited the doors from Aruban Customs, Bully was of course there waiting for us. Hugs and kisses all around to welcome us to our “home away from home” We were at the Radisson by 3 p.m., exactly one hour after we had landed. What an excellent way to begin our vacation.

We had a great flight home on Delta. When we landed in Atlanta, by the time we got from the gate in concourse B to baggage claim, ours were the first bags on the carousel! That NEVER happens when we arrive home from Aruba.


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