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Getting to Bonaire: Charlotte to Bonaire; The Long Story
Getting to Bonaire:
Charlotte to Bonaire; The Long Story
| By claude bruce (BonaireTalker - Post #26) on Sunday, January 23, 2011 - 2:03 pm: |
We had watched and weighed and compared the the schedules, stops, and prices for months before we actually booked our visit to Bonaire. An unexpected event had caused us to cancel a rather long and expensive flight on USAirways. We decided that rather than risk losing the remaining value we were allowed, we'd take the non stop flight from Charlotte to St. Martiin and use Ensel Air for the connection to Bonaire.
The flight from Charlotte was great and we arrived at SXM about 30 minutes early. We claimed our luggage and went to the Ensel ticket counter. Check in was professional and efficient. We received our boarding passes and our luggage was checked through Curaçao to Bonaire. We also confirmed that our departure tax was included in our Ensel ticket price.
We then had several warming hours out in front of the airport spent watching departing travelers and airport security guys keeping things in motion. We went to the first passport check, upstairs and through passport control, then to Security screening. Our Ensel flight departed a bit late and we were assured that the connecting flight from Curaçao would wait.
One hour twenty minutes was the time enroute on a clean but high mileage MD83. The cabin service was fine and the staff had smiling faces and the utmost courtesy. There's also a raffle of sorts where passengers can fill out a card for a chance to win a free Ensel ticket. There was applause when the winner was announced and no,.. it was not me. Still good fun !
On arrival in Curaçao we were directed to the transit area where, on the left side of he corridor, we paid $2.00 each for Airport Use Fee. We then entered the line in the right side of the corridor for passport check and carry on baggage screening. Pay the Use Fee first or risk having to go to the back of the line later.
It was Friday evening and very busy in the gate area. It took some time to discover the departure gate the Ensel flight to Bonaire. Turns out there had been a change and we boarded to same aircraft we had just stepped off for the fifteen minute ride to Bonaire arriving around 9:00 pm local time. It had been roughly eleven hours since Charlotte.
A week and a day later a much more rested middle age couple arrived at Flamingo around 6:45 am for an 8:30 am back to reality flight home. The Ensel representative checked us out then checked us in along with our luggage through Curaçao to St. Martiin. As at SXM our departure tax had been included in the price of the ticket but the vouchers were not yet available. We and several other departing passengers had to wait in the ticketing area for the vouchers to arrive. No problem! I'll soak in as much of that Bonaire warmth as possible before I leave.
When the vouchers arrived we were informed that our 8:30 am flight had been delayed and we would depart at 10:00. Fantastic ! We'll go to the Airport Bar for breakfast. The food and coffee was outstanding. Right in the middle of my huge bacon and egg sandwich we saw the plane arrive and in a few minutes the Ensel representative came to the restaurant to collect and expedite us through security and onto the waiting Embaer.
Twenty five minutes later we arrived in Curaçao going through the transit area routine again as we had before. Be sure to pay the Airport Use Fee on the left side first. We then went directly to the MD83 for the 90 minute flight to St. Martiin. More smiling faces and good service and yes again applause for another free ticket drawing.
As before we entered SXM having our carry on bags screened, then through Immigration, baggage claim, and then Customs inspection. We proceded to the USAirways ticket counter and checked our luggage direct to Charlotte. Once again we stood and sat and paced out in front of the airport. We had only four hours left and we watched the hugs and kisses and tears streaked tanned faces as they unloaded rolling bags and baby stuff.
Once in the gate area we enjoyed a final Bright. A gentleman had misplaced his passport and a fenzied search took place. His flight was boarding and he could not. His wife stood by the door in tears. And then came the sound of cheers as his book was found under one of the long rows of seats. They were arm in arm when they disappeared through the jetway with a story they'll tell for many years.
We departed about 90 minutes later than scheduled and arrived in an ice covered Charlotte four hours later. Fifteen hours after ordering that wonderful breakfast at Flamingo.
It's a long day and a lot of miles. Would I use that route again? If that's what it took to get there, of course! It's never been easy or inexpensive to travel to and from Bonaire. But at least in my mind, it's all worth it.
| By Susan Brown (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #176) on Sunday, January 23, 2011 - 3:06 pm: |
That story was so much happier than I expected it to be!!! I was so nervous for you while reading it!! Our journey to Bonaire is ALWAYS about 16 hours long both ways so that is normal for us!!! And YES sooooo worth it!!! Glad it worked out for you!
| By marge karalis (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #995) on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - 3:49 pm: |
Claude, I enjoyed your travel log so much. I, too was expecting the worst. Good on you. Can't wait for us turn. 23 more sleeps
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