We recently used UsAir+Bonairexcel as our Bonaire transportation, and I wanted to let the board know about our experience. We had inititally ticketed through AJ, but since they cancelled their direct flight to Bonaire,, they re-ticketed us BWI-AUA on USAir and Bonairexcel AUA-Bonaire. The flight down was fine except for a 40 minute holdover in Curacao with no air conditioning in the plane. We arrived in Bonaire 20 minutes early.
The return flight was not so smooth. The connections called for only a 1 hour connection in Aruba, and by the time my travel agent noticed this, it was too late to book a different flight on Bonairexel. Flights were crowded due to Antilles Day 10/21. No one has told us that making a connection in Aruba involves immigrating into Aruba, collecting luggage, going through customs, exiting the arrivals building, emigrating from Aruba, checking in with USAir, going through US customs (done in Aruba, which does save you some time when arriving home in the States) and going through security. Never accept a connection from Bonairexcel to a domestic carrier or vice-versa without at least 2-2 1/2 hours between flights or I will guarantee that you will miss it. Bonairexcel was only 10 minutes late getting into Aruba, but by the time we got bags and got to check-in for USAir, the flight was closed.
We spent the night at TALK of the Town, a ** hotel about 3 minutes by cab from the airport with a pleasant pool and a short walk to a beach. Rate was $108 for the night.
We were not too upset. We had left an extra day at the end of the trip for unwinding, and I must admit that there are worse places to have to spend an extra night than in Aruba!!
Bonairexcel was a relatively pleasant experience, and we did get a chance to see Curacao up close. Just please remember not to allow less than 2-3 hours for any connection in Aruba!!
Can't wait for the direct service with Continental. Other friends came via Curacao on AA and to Bonaire on DIVI DIVI and had a great time (except for hurricane-related delays on the trip home0