A Fireside Chat with: MJ on Travel

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Welcome to a new Sunday series that will be a bit like a fireside chat. I count it a privilege to be a part of an amazing group of Travel bloggers here at BoardingArea.com.  But just how well do you know “your” BoardingArea writers? Are you reading all the blogs you should be each day? This series will help you get to know them one by one. Now on to this weeks chat.

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This week I have sitting down by the fireplace a very respected fellow blogger and a cornerstone of BoardingArea. There are many bloggers who have learned vast amounts of data about every program ever created, but there are very few who have thousands of hours flying commercial airplanes in the air. So let’s get to know MJ!

Rene – Hello MJ. It is great to learn more about you. Before I ever dreamed of writing a blog I so much enjoyed reading MJ on Travel. Tell us, why did you start blogging?

MJ – Rene, it’s nice of you to do this. A cornerstone of BoardingArea is generous, but I am very happy to be here! I started my blog a little over seven years ago as kind of a fun thing to do. I thought I had a little something to share coming from the airline industry. I still enjoy talking about airlines, but I’ve added the cruising topics as something new that not many people talk about in this space.

Rene – I think more want to know about your background but first the cruise thing. Years ago only old people got on the ships. Now, there are custom voyages for everyone from young to old to those with specific interests. What can you share with readers in your blog that they can not find other places on the web?

MJ – Cruising has changed so much over the years, and you are right, there is something for everyone. While I don’t think of myself as a miles and points blogger, I do play in the space. Of the handful of cruise-focused bloggers out there, I believe myself to be the only one who can tell you how to leverage your miles and points to improve your cruising experience. As you know, I’m speaking at the Chicago Seminars in October, and I don’t want to give everything away until then, but you can expect more posts between now and then with a “points” focus…..but dedicated to cruising, or better yet, improving your cruise experience.

Rene – Interesting and you touch on something that really is why anyone should read BoardingArea blogs – they all seem to bring more to the reader than they will find other places. OK back to more about MJ. It is so fun to learn more about the person behind the blog we are reading. Just what is MJ’s background and what, other than cruising, are your interests?

MJ – Well, I come from an aviation background. It did not run in my family, but I took an interest in airplanes at a very young age….like second or third grade. In 8th grade I bought a book called “How to Become an Airline Pilot.” I read it cover to cover in a day or so. That book, which is still sitting somewhere at my mother’s house, was the foundation of everything I thought about for the next several years. I took my first flying lesson at age 15, soloed at 16, and obtained my private pilot’s license at 17. Went off to college. While my major was not aviation related, I flew throughout college. I obtained my commercial license, along with multi-engine and instrument ratings at age 19, and actually flew professionally while continuing my studies. After college, I went to work for a regional airline flying Jetstreams and later Saab 340 aircraft. Shortly before my 26th birthday, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes which ended my commercial flying career. I went to work for our major airline partner shortly thereafter in a job that included about 70 percent travel. I’d say that experience planted the seed for my travel desires that exist still today.

Rene – Wow! That must have been a very hard day. But I know you are still professionally involved in aviation and bring that to MJ on Travel. So back to the blog. You write about such a variety of topics. If I have never checked out MJ on Travel, why should I add this to my daily read? What should I expect to see over the next year or so if I stop by?

MJ – I would expect to see more about cruising, and not just about my favorite cruise line, Royal Caribbean. I would also look for more use of video in my cruise and hotel reviews, and I’m currently doodling with my very first podcast. From a miles and points perspective, I don’t want to simply parrot what every other blogger just posted, but I want to share more about my own personal experiences with miles and points, and how I continue to personally benefit from them…and how readers can too. Finally, sometime in the next year…..you are going to see a post launching the first ever MJ on Travel group cruise!

Rene – You have my full attention now. I personally can not wait. I think many BoardingArea readers can gain from reading your blog each day. Thank you so much MJ for taking the time to sit down with me and for a chance to get to know the MJ in MJ on Travel!

MJ – Thank you for including me in your series. I think that BoardingArea features a group of bloggers that are second to none, and I am flattered beyond description that I get to be a part of such a great group of people.

I hope you have enjoyed this latest installment in getting to know “your” BoardingArea bloggers. You can in addition to his blog MJ on Travel, follow MJ on Twitter as well as RSS and Facebook. Please take the time to read one of the most amazing blog posts I have ever laid eyes on of MJ’s reflections after 9-11. Also, as touched on in the interview, MJ’s suggestions and experience with Type 1 diabetes and travel.

Next week we will have another one of our international bloggers sitting down by the fireplace. I hope you check back to find out who! – Rene



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