Flying to Caribbean

Increased airline service and new airports make the Caribbean accessible

Photo credit: © van Cholakov | Dreamstime.com

Flying to the Caribbean
 

A highly popular way to reach the Caribbean, presumably because of the speed and convenience, is via airplane. Although it's usually best to book your ticket in advance, if your travel plans are flexible, you can seek out last-minute bargains.

Another money-saving option is to pick off-peak flight times. For example, flights departing mid-week or in the fall, spring, and summer months are often less expensive than flights on the weekends or in the winter months. A Saturday stay-over or departure from an alternate airport can also diminish the price of your ticket. Specially priced plane tickets are typically nonrefundable. Also, you'll likely incur a fee if you later alter the date or time of your travel.

Most flights from the United States are nonstop or direct to the Caribbean. Direct flights typically connect in San Juan or St. Thomas. Many Caribbean airports are small, so arriving passengers cannot usually deplane directly to the terminal. Few airports provide shuttle service, so expect a long walk on the tarmac to the terminal to claim your luggage. If you have a physical ailment preventing you from walking, be sure to arrange an alternate form of transportation with one of the airline attendants prior to arriving in the Caribbean.

Airlines

Once you're in the Caribbean, you can island hop by way of one of the many small Caribbean airlines. To get there, though, you'll want to rely on one of these airline companies, all of which have regularly scheduled flights to the Caribbean from hubs as indicated:

Airlines servicing the Caribbean from the United States and Canada include:

Airline Telephone Number
Air Canada 888-247-2262
Air Tran 800-247-8726
Air Transat 800-388-5836
American Airlines 800-433-7300
Bahamasair 800-222-4262
British Airways 800-247-9297
Cayman Airways 800-422-9626
Continental 800-525-0280
Delta Air Lines 800-221-1212
Frontier 800-432-1359
Jet Blue 800-538-2583
Marinair 800-627-8462
Mexicana 800-531-7921
Spirit Airlines 800-772-7117
Twin Air 954-359-8266
United 800-864-8331
US Airways 800-428-4322
USA 3000 Airlines 877-USA-3000
WestJet Airlines 800-538-5696

 

Airlines servicing the Caribbean from Europe include:

Airline Telephone Number
Air France 800-237-2747
British Airways 800-247-9297
Condor 800-524-6975
Iberia 800-772-4642
K.L.M. Royal Dutch Airlines 866-434-0320
Lufthansa 800-645-3880
Martinair
800-627-8462
Virgin Atlantic 844-209-7777

 

Airlines offering connections between major flights and local Caribbean service:

Airline Telephone Number
Air Aruba 800-822-7822
Air Caribbean 800-623-2500
Air Charter Bahamas 866-359-4752
305-885-6665
Air Caraibes 877-772-1005
Air Sunshine 800-327-8900
Air Turks and Caicos
694-946-4999
American Eagle 800-433-7300
Avianca Airlines 800-284-2622
Bahamasair 800-222-4262
Cape Air 800-352-0714
Carib Aviation Ltd. 800-744-2323
Caribbean Airlines 800-920-4225
Caribbean Wings-BVI Airlines 284-495-6000
Cayman Airways 800-422-9626
Cubana 537-834-4446
Fly BVI 284-495-1747
Fly Montserrat 664-491-3434
Island Birds 284-495-2002
877-515-5066
LIAT 268-480-5601
Mustique Airways St. Vincent: 784-458-4380
800-526-4789
Seaborne Airlines 340-773-6442
888-359-8687
Sky King 649-941-3136
SVG Air 800-624-1843
WINAIR 866-466-0410
Windward Express Airways 599-548-3085

 

If you're unfamiliar with an airline's reputation, consult the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA ranks carriers based on safety, service and performance. Contact the FAA at: 800 Independence Ave., SW; Washington D.C., 20591 or via the internet at www.faa.gov. You can also phone the FAA regarding specific issues:

Regulator Telephone Number
Air Travel Service Problems 202-366-2220
Aviation Safety Hotline 800-255-1111
Aviation Consumer Protection Division 202-366-2220
Questions about FAA-monitored consumer issues 866-835-5322
Transportation Security and Baggage Screeners Concerns 866-289-9673

Airport Security

Travelers around the world are subjected to personal screenings as well as with their luggage.

Many airports also conduct random passenger inspections at which point security personnel conduct a complete search of the person and all of all their belongings. Because of these added security stops, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recommends that arrivals at the airport should be at least two hours before your flights departure.

To reduce waiting time and ensure you reach your gate in a timely manner, consider the following airport standards and advisements:

Make sure to confirm your flight before heading to the airport and that you have your ticket or e-ticket confirmation page. You will also be required to present your passport at security checkpoints. Children must have a valid passport.

  • Do not wear metal objects such as steel-toed boots, heavy jewelry or bulky belt buckles as these items could set off the checkpoint detectors.

  • Your keys, loose change, personal data assistants (PDA's), cell phones, and shoes are to be removed are placed in the provided bins, together with jackets, sweaters, purses and other carry on materials.

  • If you have any metal surgical implants, bring a current note signed by your doctor to avoid the possibility of a long meeting with an airport official.

  • Remember only ticketed passengers are allowed to pass through security with a ticket for travel.  Check with the airline for specific documentation required should you only be accompanying a child, elderly or disabled person.

Carry-On Luggage

Airports and airlines have implemented new regulations for carry-on luggage in recent years. Certain items, such as metal objects, scissors, razors and other sharp instruments are not permitted on flights. For a complete list of regulated items, visit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website at www.tsa.gov/public/index.jsp or call 1-866-289-9673 in the U.S.

  • The carry-on limit per passenger is one carry-on bag plus one private item such as a briefcase, laptop case or purse. Liquids, aerosols and gel toiletries are allowed in 3.4 ounce containers or less need to be placed in clear zip lock type bags, and placed in the screening bin separately.

  • Your prescriptions should be included in your carry-on bag, and if you are a diabetic.

  • Remember to pack with you medical supplies, emergency snacks, and other items that diabetics should carry when they travel.

  • Food and beverages must only be purchased after passengers have gone through the security check-points. Do not pack these items in your carry-on luggage and try to go through security - they will be thrown out because they pose a security risk.

  • Do not take any wrapped presents with you. If the package sets off a detector, security officials will be forced to unwrap, and possibly damage, the gift. Consider shipping them ahead, or wrapping them upon arrival to your destination.

Review the product list of items to be avoided at www.tsa.gov.

Caribbean travelers will find airlines one of the most convenient ways to reach the islands. With consistent schedules and plenty of flight options it's easy to see why this is the most popular way to arrive.

 

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