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.
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:
|Delta Air Lines||800-221-1212|
|USA 3000 Airlines||877-USA-3000|
Airlines servicing the Caribbean from Europe include:
|K.L.M. Royal Dutch Airlines||866-434-0320|
Airlines offering connections between major flights and local Caribbean service:
|Air Charter Bahamas||866-359-4752
|Air Turks and Caicos
|Carib Aviation Ltd.||800-744-2323|
|Caribbean Wings-BVI Airlines||284-495-6000|
|Mustique Airways||St. Vincent: 784-458-4380
|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:
|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|
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.
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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