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July 1999 Vol. 14, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Trouble with Going to Bonaire and Curaçao

getting there is the hardest part

from the July, 1999 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Caribbean airlines have been a perennial reader complaint over the years. While TACA is seen by many as the worst, my hunch is that ALM’s service into Bonaire and Curaçao is a strong contender.

Reader Peter Hartlove (Longmont CO) described his trip last year: “ALM, even with an added flight, overbooked by 80 seats. We stood in line 2.5 hrs. the night before to ensure a seat!” As of this February, things apparently hadn’t changed much. Reader Scott (Round Lake Beach IL) described an otherwise great trip, “the only problem being with ALM Airlines. They lost 6 travel trunks with all our equipment in them (for a group of 4). On the return it took almost 90 minutes to check in four people. Then our connecting flight was canceled and we were laid over in Curaçao for five hours.”

While you can’t control late departures, ALM’s Miami Station Manager Glenno Frans says you can help ensure your bags arrive with you. He says that because ALM often does not receive the bags from the connecting carrier in time, you can improve the odds that your bags will arrive with you by allowing at least two hours to make connections. Perhaps, but for some travelers that would necessitate overnighting in Miami.

There are options. Ann Caradonna of Caradonna Caribbean Tours (800-328-2288 or at www.caradonna.com) says Air Aruba does offer some direct flights. Furthermore, she said, Air Jamaica will be offering regular Saturday-only service to Bonaire through Montego Bay from most of their gateways, including Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, New York/Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. Connect times will be short with early afternoon Bonaire arrivals.

Another possibility (and a way to use your frequent flyer miles) is to fly a major air carrier into Caracas and then catch a flight to Bonaire or Curaçao; there are several a day. While you may have to overnight in Venezuela, there are hotels near the airport, or a few miles away, at the Sheraton, there's a nice stretch of beach, and a number of fine seafood restaurants are located nearby.

— J. Q.

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