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Getting to Bonaire: Our A.J. BON to ORD ordeal
Bonaire Talk: Getting to Bonaire: Archives: Archives 1999-2005: Archives - 2005-01-01 to 2005-05-01: Our A.J. BON to ORD ordeal
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ron R (BonaireTalker - Post #15) on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 4:00 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Instead of giving our personal opinion on our return flight home from Bonaire last week on A.J. I thought it would be better to just write a time line on what all happened.

April 21, 2005
A.J. Flight 67 BON to MBJ: Left Bonaire only a few minutes late, once we were in the air passengers were told that some may miss their MBJ connecting flights home. Then we were told we are going to make a stop in Curacao (this was not on our itinerary). Arrived in MBJ about 45 minutes late, no big deal for us because we then found out our flight departure time to ORD was changed from 4:52 to 7:35 p.m.

Now is where it all begins...............

Flight 71 MBJ to ORD:
Rescheduled to depart at 7:35 p.m.
At 7:00 p.m. we are told flight is delayed until 8:15, A.J. customer service would not tell us why.
8:15.........still no plane.
8:30.........still no plane.
8:45.........still no plane, we are told that plane is still in Kingston because of rain.
9:00.........still no plane.
9:20 p.m. plane finally arrives to MBJ
10:00 p.m. we board the plane.

Sit on plane for 20 minutes and then we are told by the Captain that when the plane landed in MBJ they got a fault message for the A.C. system and that the ground crew was working on finding out and fixing the problem.

10:40 p.m. Captain comes on P.A. and tells us that ground crew is just finishing up putting the cowling back on the engine (what this has to do with the A.C. I do not know but I am not a aircraft mechanic).

10:50 p.m. We are pushed out from gate number 6.
10:52 p.m. Captain comes on P.A. again and says that while being pushed out ground crew saw that we had a flat tire, we are then pushed back into the gate.
11:00 p.m. Captain tells us that they do not have a spare tire at MBJ for our aircraft, flight is cancelled.

Go to customer service, they are on phones and try to ignore all of us. I finally get one of then to give me some information.

We go and pick up our luggage and wait for a shuttle to take us to a hotel.

We all get loaded on the shuttles but we then sit there because drivers were not told where to take us.

12:05 a.m. We check into Sunset Beach Resort. (we have not eaten since noon and we find out that their grill closes at 1:00 a.m., no big deal at least we will be able to eat). Get something to eat and we make a beeline to the bar to try and calm ourselves after our days adventure. Then off to bed (nice rooms).

Woke up the next morning, go to front desk. We find out that A.J. has paid for an extended check out time of 5 p.m. and at that time the shuttle will pick us up and take us to the airport for a 7:35 p.m. departure.

Had a beautiful day at the resort, very nice fine sand beach and it was sunny. Made some new friends that were also stranded from flight 71 like us.
Saw Scorpionfish while snorkeling, bonus!

5:00 p.m. rolls around, we get in the shuttle and head for the airport.
Look at flight board and it says our flight is on time, until 6:45 p.m. then it changes. We all look at each other and think "not again"! Flight is delayed until 8:10 p.m. and then again to 8:30.

8:40 p.m. Friday, April 22nd we board the plane.
There is a little bit of a delay but a few minutes later we are actually in the air.

Landed in ORD around midnight, went through immigration, got our bags and went through customs. Got back to our car at 1:30 a.m. and did the 2 hour drive home (good thing I work the night shift and am used to staying up so late).

All in all we are looking at the bright side that we eventually got home and that we made it home safe and we also got a bonus day at a nice resort that we could enjoy the day outside in the sun.
Downside was that we spent all that time in the airport for a flight that was cancelled.

Don't know what this all cost A.J. to put us up but it could have not been cheap.

Make your own decision on to fly or not to fly A.J. but I know that I will never be able to get my wife on one of their planes again!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By mary pequinot (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #464) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 6:37 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

How AWFUL. No wonder they may be shutting down. Sorry to hear about your experience, but at least it was on the way BACK! The return flights seem to be more of a problem.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim McCabe (BonaireTalker - Post #21) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 11:36 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

I don't mean to be flippant, but why would anyone choose to fly AJ in the first place? After all the difficulties folks have encountered, isn't it clear that AJ is NOT the way to go?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan (Extraordinary BonaireTalker - Post #1326) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 12:27 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Basically, because

a) others have been able to get to and from Bonaire without major issues.

b) some of us are willing to roll the dice in the interest of getting to Bonaire early afternoon and leaving early afternoon, rather than late evening and too-early morning, respectively.

c) American isn't doing all that well, either.

d) Like theft on Bonaire, it's the negatives you mostly hear about, not the positives.

I've been watching flights to/from Boston for the last few weeks. Although the returns have been iffy, with some arriving close to on time and others way off, the travel down to Bonaire has consistently looked good. And I can live with getting home late, but I'd rather get to Bonaire early or on-time.

That's why we're going AJ tomorrow.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Randy P (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #336) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 1:12 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

What Susan said.

That EARLY afternoon arrival and LATE afternoon departure is like getting an extra day's vacation on the island. It DOES work out to being able to dive the morning before departure too, should you really want to.

And for sure it beats getting up at OH-dark-thirty to stand in line at the airport. How about instead enjoying a leisurely breakfast, do some sight-seeing, have lunch and THEN go play the line-waiting game on your departure day?

But their financial woes do NOT bode well for their future sadly. Out of Chicago they were simply the best deal going.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Cynde (BonaireTalk Deity - Post #13567) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 1:25 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Ron, I'm sorry you had such a long trip home...whew...I hope your trip on Bonaire was good though...

I've had a lot of broken plane delays (like yours, where they keep delaying the plane, won't tell you why, then you board, sit there for an hour, then they say the plane is "missing something" (one time it was the hydrolics on AA) we can't take off...we get off...they look for "another plane"...we eventually board that one and are on our way...It's happened with AA and Delta for me.

I think the best one was Delta coming back from a business trip in February from Atlanta. Besides the fact that there was medical tape holding a lot of "things" together on that plane...plane is delayed, we get on...pilot says that there is something "missing" from the wing, we don't need it to fly, but the FAA won't let us take off without it...hmm...ponder what is missing on the wing...1/2 hour later, pilot says maintenence is at the "hanger" looking for part...about an hour later pilot says, can't find part, everyone off...they look for another, we are going to Orange County, which closes at 11PM due to noise curfew. It is now around 9:00PM...we are still in Atlanta. They find a plane, however, they have to wait for "food services" to bring the food from plane A to plane B...tick...tick...tick...if we can't land at OC, we have to land at LAX and take a bus home...tick..tick..tick...the attendant comes out and says, we can take off now with no food, or wait for the food an probably have to do the LAX thing...unanimously we all voted for the no food...however, Delta was nice and let us have free drinks!

I hope I didn't bore any of you...I just felt like "sharing."...LOL!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mary Mueller (Supreme BonaireTalker - Post #3952) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 3:14 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

To add to what Susan said.

American is not doing that well either.

My trip down this month was shorten by one day due to problems with an American flight.

In Miami - we were an hour late boarding the plane to San Juan due to issues with door seals. They said they fixed those and let us board. I am thinking fine - I had 2 hours between my planes in San Juan - so 1 hour is no problem.

Well - we all are on the plane - which is about 1/2 full (the back seats are roped off - I will explain that later). We taxi out to runway and stop. After about 30 minutes of sitting there the pilot states that he needs a program downloaded in order to take off and they are having difficulty downloading it - it should be about 30 more minutes to take off.

The crew at that point was nice enough to turn the fasten seat belts sign and let us get up out of our seats. 30 minutes go by and the captain gets on and says they are trying to download it manually from corporate in Dallas and are trying to reach someone in Dallas to do this. He also explains that it has something to do with the weight distribution, since our flight was a maintenance flight - hence half empty flight and roped off seats. He said if they could not fix it from the runway - they would have to go back to the gate. 30 minutes later he announces we need to go back to gate and please fasten our seat belts for the trip on the tarmac.

We get to the gate and never fully attach - however they told us the we did not have to stay in our seats - but we could not get off the plane - since it was not attached to the gate. 30 minutes went by and the captain gets on as says they working on the computer problem - and he did not know when we would take off.

Another 30 minutes goes by and captain announces they think they have the computer problem fixed - however some passengers would need to move to the back to redistribute the weight and then we hopefully could take off. he also stated that in his 27 years of being a pilot he has never had anything like this happened to him before.

We take off about 30 minutes after that last announcement - 4 hours late. By then I have resigned myself to missing the 5:20 flight to Bonaire.

Though there still was a bit of hope - since I know flights can leave late. They also still had the Bonaire flight posted on the sheet as a connection - when the attendants pulled up the connecting flight info - so hope was still alive.

All hope was dashed upon arrival - we arrived at 7:10 and I was informed that the Bonaire flight went out on time that day.

I ended up staying at the airport hotel (American paid for) and had food vouchers for $7 for lunch and dinner - breakfast was included with the hotel.

But all was not lost - since my flight did not leave until after 5:00 the next day - I decided it was a perfect opportunity to spend a nice day visiting Old San Juan. Which I did and caught the next days' flight to Bonaire and then spent 10 wonderful days there.

Flight home was all on time and on schedule.

So point is that the other choice American Airlines has the same issues.

BTW -I was very impressed with the captain and crew on this flight - they kept us informed of everything and did not lead us on - that made all the difference. As a matter of fact -there was no out of control people on that flight - even after being trapped on the plane for 3 hours before we took off. I give the credit to them for keeping things cool though a tough situation.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Cynde (BonaireTalk Deity - Post #13577) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 4:34 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Mary, I agree, it seems like they all are having "issues" right now. Couple years ago when I took AA from LAX to Bon, we boarded the plane at 12:30AM (redeye)...I pop my tylenol hour later they notify us that the plane had no hydrolics, so we get off...they finally found another plane at around 4:00AM...nothing like sitting in LAX after taking Tylenol PM...LOL!

How did you like OSJ?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mary Mueller (Supreme BonaireTalker - Post #3953) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 4:42 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

EWWWW!! sitting in LAX at anytime is not fun - much less when your head is full of cotton!!!LOL!!

OSJ was lovely - I loved the forts and definitely got my exercise walking up and down the streets!!

At one of the forts there were classes of kids flying kites - very nice visual!! Each class has a different colored shirt and kites. All of the adults were on the kite holding and retrieving end - fun to watch them run around and try not get banged by a kite.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mary Mueller (Supreme BonaireTalker - Post #3954) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 4:43 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

BTW - would love to know what part on the wing they don't need to fly!!!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Cynde (BonaireTalk Deity - Post #13579) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 5:37 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Mary, my thoughts exactly...


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By seb (Extraordinary BonaireTalker - Post #2180) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 6:15 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

I always though one was a spare...


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Geoffrey (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #112) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 6:17 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

American ... OK, here is my horror story. I was coming back from Finland ... still jet lagged from going to Finland (your biological clock does not get a lot of clues in Finland in February). Finair was fine, very finnish but really great.

Then I had to take an AA flight from NYC to Boston.

THe gate staff generally looked like they should be flipping burgers ... but actually did relatively OK between discussions of their boy friends and who dissed who.

The cabin attendant was just about clinically demented. As I boarded the plane, one of those small spanish jobs with a surprising 50 seats, she looked at my ticket, issued in Finland, and announced, without any study, that I did not have a seat assignment (after checking through the gate). I did not have my glasses. I could not stand up straight and she booted me off the plane. This involved a lot of yelling on her part and generally embarssing conduct. I had to point out that I could not get off the plane unless she stopped people getting on, the door being what it was.

Back at the gate, they showed me where my seat assignment was and sent back to the plane. I was feeling a bit irritable at this point and pointed at the place on the ticket where the seat assignment was. Now she wanted to boot me off her plane and have me arrested, for being irritable. I appologized to her and took my seat. She was unable to get any other passengers to support her allegation (because there was no real basis for it) She undertook the loopiest cabin prep I've ever seen ... I'll spare you the details. During the flight, she had this strange ritual that involved walking the aisles shaking a bag of garbage so people would know she had a bag of garbage. This she did several times ... just about for most of the flight.

I complained to AA and got a $150.00 coupon for a future flight that will not happen real soon.

My experience of AA was far worse than anything I ever endured with AJ.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ron R (BonaireTalker - Post #17) on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 1:43 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Jim M.
We had no idea what was going on with A.J. when we bought our tickets. It was not until after we had the tickets that we found B.T. and then our hearts sank as we read the bad postings about the airlines.

We had a great flight down to Bonaire and a wonderful week on the island, it was our first time. We will visit again but it will have to be after the airlines are straightened out. Till then we are going to visit different places.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ron Gould (BonaireTalker - Post #80) on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 12:06 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Cynde and Ron, We have been to Bonaire many times and have used most of the airlines carriers. AJ is our choice and if they go under it will be a big loss to travelers of the Caribbean. We have tickets from Ord to Bon May25th - June 8th that are unrefundable. I hope AJ doesn't go out of Business while we are on the Island but if they do then they do. We will deal with that when it happens. I will not let money or inconvenience spoil our trip to Bonaire!! Ron

(Message edited by ronindiana on April 30, 2005)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By The Ginocchio's @ Golden Reef Inn (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #707) on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 1:14 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post


We definitely agree. We have been fly AJ for over 6 years to Bonaire now and are heartbroken. Our last flight to Bonaire was in January from Philadelphia and all went well. On the way back we were delayed 2 hours, but made it home.

Our next trip is in the next 2 weeks. We are debating whether to take AJ again or to try something new. A small carrier, Spirit Air flys into San Juan. We have flown them in the States and they are excellent, prices are great too. We may do that and then take AE into Bonaire. Just don't know if we really want to take a chance with AJ, especially since they are saying they might shut down totally. It would be a HUGE loss to the entire Caribbean!



Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Cindy Bourgeois (BonaireTalker - Post #31) on Sunday, May 1, 2005 - 6:57 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

We visited Bonaire for the first time last year. A 6 hour drive to Houston, an overnight at my BIL's who drove us to and from IAH on our depart and return. The flight to Bonaire from Houston was more than was outstanding! Equally as outstanding on the return. We are presently looking forward to a return trip in the Very Near Future. No more AJ in Houston. We will have to drive to Atlanta it seems. Have been on the Internet all day trying to make connections work with arrival from any airline in the USA to Montego Bay and hopefully pick up AJ in Montego Bay to Bonaire. It's just not happening. One AJ flight out leaving at 11:30AM doesn't jive with any USA flights. Montego Bay is not my idea of Island Paradise. Please help me connect to Bonaire from Montego Bay!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Andy & Dave Bartlett (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #230) on Sunday, May 1, 2005 - 7:16 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Cindy not sure if any other airline coincides with AJ flights out of MoBay. AA goes thru San Juan to Bonaire out either Houston or Dallas. You might look at the website for AA. It looks like AJ may be going to shut down completely this summer, don't think I would trust them right now.


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