|By Louis Keith Myers on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 11:23 am:|
My wife and I have our first trip to Bonaire scheduled in early Jan. 2002. Since AA began nonstop service from SJU to BON almost two weeks ago, I anticipated a frenzy of reports about those flights. Maybe not enough of the "group" have flown the new route or have yet to return home. If you have flown the new route, how was it? On time? Was it relatively comfortable (considering one is on a large turboprop)? Does it actually take the full 2 hours, 10 min. to fly the route, as stated in AA's itinerary? Oh, and yes, I am the "anal" member of the household ... or so I'm told.
|By Glen Reem on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 3:46 pm:|
I think the secret to the lack of posts is that the flight was unremarkable; perhaps not many BT'ers in the 60 people on board. Took off on time, landed a little early. Only one weekend-after-a-week-of-diving return flight thus far, so not much experience, perhaps no BT'ers. I will post after the 24th.
|By Louis Keith Myers on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 4:45 pm:|
Glen, thanks for taking the time to respond. I'll look forward to hearing from you after the 24th, as well as any other AA flyers who will hopefully contribute to this discussion. By the way, the current AA flights SJU to BON depart at 6:10 p.m. Our January flight does not depart SJU until around 7:40 p.m. Anyone have any ideas on the reason(s) for the change in schedule?
|By Scott Saltsgaver on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 5:12 pm:|
|By Steven Springer on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 6:09 pm:|
|By thomas brossard on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 6:27 pm:|
We will be using AE 6/16-6/24...I'll let you know how it goes!
|By Anonymous on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 6:39 pm:|
|By Louis Keith Myers on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 7:14 pm:|
|By Hazel Scharosch on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 12:37 am:|
Hans you dropped your guard. I KNEW all along you were really Bob's alter-ego. Jig's up!
|By Walt III on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 6:59 am:|
Scott a second airplane carried the extra baggage that would have put plane 1 over weight. Sorry but true 2 planes. I have also heard that AA is thinking about small jets "Folker 100s" to replace the turbo props. This from a pilot with AA. Don't have any way to verify this but that's what I was told
|By Scott Saltsgaver on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 7:37 am:|
Walt, Did not think that any airline would spend that much $$ just to move luggage, but being the "new "kid on the block I guess that they want to impress?
|By Glen Reem on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 10:15 am:|
Not 'just moving baggage': happy passengers with their luggage is the whole goal of air travel. Especially on an inaugural flight. Divers carry extra weight of luggage over the 'average' air traveler. And the TP's typically have narrower fuselages and so less underfloor baggage space and carrying capacity. For years, ALM used TP's Curacao--Bonaire: baggage was always not with you but arrived at your hotel about midnite, having been flown from Curacao in a DC-9 after it's last scheduled flight of the day. Curacao is closer than SJ but then, this was AA.
|By Carole Baker on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 11:02 am:|
Is it Bobby Ruggillo again???? Is this who "anonymous" is????
|By Anonymous on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 11:06 am:|
|By Jason on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 11:21 am:|
Glen, A lot depends on the plane... Dehavilands are known for their excellant characteristics.. short take off. large cargo capability.. relatively quiet performance... unfortunately the ATR's don't share a lot of these same characteristics.. although AA has demonstrated that they do have excellant performance in the high speed plowing of fields... The Folker 100 would be an excellant and welcome upgrade to the AA service...
|By Steven Springer on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 12:07 pm:|
Keith, I didn't use the internet to find the flight times (I have SABRE in my office). But the link you can use is www.aa.com
|By Kelly on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 12:17 pm:|
Trying VERY hard to ignore "high speed plowing of fields" comments. Oucchhhhhhh !!!!!!!! Gimme a Dash-8 anytime, anyday, anywhere...
|By Louis Keith Myers on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 12:54 pm:|
Steven, thanks for the tip. I'll check it out periodically for on-time performance.
|By Louis Keith Myers on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 1:26 pm:|
Just an aside: old news or impractical for some/most BT'ers. Northwest Airlines (quit laughing) offers nonstop service from its hub in Memphis(MEM) to SJU on Saturdays. The flights depart MEM at 9:45 a.m. which might be a problem for many, with the exception of areas served by NW Airlink, Mesaba, or sometimes Continental/Continental Express(i.e., Southeast and Midwest). Flights arrive at SJU in plenty of time to make connection with AA nonstop to BON. Return trip can be tricky since AA departs BON so early in the morning, which could make for a loooong layover in SJU because nonstop flight from SJU back to MEM does not leave until 5:05 p.m.(argh!)on Saturdays. Other return configurations are possible, however, by departing other than on a Saturday. We will combat the long layover by returning to SJU on Friday and catching some PR sun, sand, and surf (plus a late hotel checkout) until our flight leaves on Saturday. Hope some of this info is helpful. Just thought it might allow some to avoid Air ALM and/or AirJam, if bad experiences have prevailed with these two in the past.
|By Louis Keith Myers on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 1:41 pm:|
There is some variation in the departure/arrival times stated in my earlier post, depending on the time of year one is traveling. Sorry if the post mislead or confused anyone. Our flights are not until early Jan. 2002, which explains the differences. "Your results may vary".
|By Glen Reem on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 2:32 pm:|
As promised, a report on my return flight 24 June by AE via SJU. The good, the bad and suggestions.
|By Louis Keith Myers on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 10:10 pm:|
Glen, thanks for the report and I'm glad to know that you arrived home safely. Did you overhear any discussion of whether AA jet service SJU/BON may be on the horizon? My inquiry to AA Customer Relations re: jet service was answered with some canned response relating how "AA continually evaluates the profitability of each flight segment", blah, blah, blah. I suppose I should not expect a definite answer this soon after initiation of the new route, I just did not realize that Thurston Howell III worked CR at AA.
|By Glen Reem on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 10:29 pm:|
One conversation touched on the use of Fokker's in order to carry all baggage with passengers. Later in 2001 was mentioned. Totally unofficial.
|By michael gaynor on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 1:08 pm:|
A fourth flight from San Juan is in the offing. It will begin in the next few weeks. It is scheduled to arrive on Friday evening, with Northbound deparatures on Sat AM.
|By Al Deen on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 4:49 pm:|
I just got a roundtrip SJU-BON for $149 on Orbitz ($50 cheaper than on the AA website). The Orbitz site is a bear to use (constant traffic), but a good deal if you can get through.
|By Glen Reem on Saturday, July 7, 2001 - 10:08 am:|
Another good experience with AA/AE, BON-SJU-BOS. My daughter and 2 teenagers traveled that route on 29 June with no hitches. They made the one hour flight interval at SJU with no problem, contrary to my experience and warnings above. Check in on Bonaire was effortless (at 4 am followed by return home for coffee and back at 5:30!); an AE rep was on hand. Left on time, arrived a bit early, hurried to Immigration, baggage arrived and Customs done, arrived at departure gate just as boarding began. Less than 12 hours total from checkin to arrival in Boston suburb. AA/AE seems to work.
|By Anonymous on Tuesday, July 10, 2001 - 4:31 pm:|
I just returned from Bonaire to the US on June 30th. I had to buy a new return ticket (ALM & NW) because AA refused to honor my return ticket. I was unable to leave on the original return date due to a severe ear/sinus infection. I tried numerous times to contact AA at the Flamingo Airport as well as the AA office on Curacao to rebook prior to my scheduled departure date. Unfortunately, AA does not have the necessary infrastructure in place nor the personnel to deal with dive related problems that may result in flight return problems (sure don't want to blow out the ear drum and sinus between Bon-SJU). Instead, all that Dallas Ft. Worth office would say is that my return ticket was useless - they wanted to charge $700 US for a one-way ticket without applying my original return ticket. So much for customer satisifaction!!! Am grateful to Bonaire Travel since they also sent copies of all of my medical info to AA - but alas to no avail! They did manage to book me on ALM/NW airlines for a mere $540 US. Moral of the story - be wary of AA since they don't understand possible dive related problems and are absolutely impossible to deal with since they have no trained personnel nor computer systems in place!
|By Glen Reem on Tuesday, July 10, 2001 - 6:22 pm:|
What change options did the original ticket allow? A change of flight for $'s or none at all?
|By Anonymous on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 2:54 pm:|
The original ticket - while "non-refundable" did allow for changes for the usual $100 fee. Neither AA on Bonaire nor AA on Curacao responded to my or Bonaire Travels request for a change of flight departure date due to medical problems. I was even ready and able to pay for the difference for a code "upgrade" just to get a seat. Instead, When I was finally able to get through to AA in Dallas (need to use non 1-800 Tele #s, you can't use them while on Bonaire, amazingly AA Curacao did not even have the tele #) on the day of my original flight off the island they said that they would not honor my original ticket and that it was useless. I have since been told that this was incorrect (by other travelers/agents), but in the meantime I had to pay for another ticket and will have to SLUG it out with AA (understand it takes up to 8 or 10 months) in order to get vouchers or other compensation. Just remeber if you travel to Bonaire: (1) that there are no AA personnel on the island that can assist you in resolving possible dive/health related flight problems (it also doesn't help that the airline only flies in/out every-other-day - ergo no personnel at the airport), (2) don't bother trying to contact Curacao - they will promise to assist but will never call you back, (3) always take a direct tele # for AA with you since 1-800 numbers don't work on the island phones, (4) use a travel agent back in the US that is willing to go the distance for you should you encounter problems, and (5) carry flight/trip insurance that will cover dive related problems. I actually had great service on ALM even though the plane left Bonaire 30 minutes late. In the future I will most likely be using them since I can't trust AA. Also, on previous trips ALM was most willing to change flight departure dates (at least between Bonaire and Curacao) and typically with no fee involved!!!
|By Glen Reem on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 10:06 am:|
I discovered the absence of an easily found AE rep when I tried to reconfirm my return for my peace of mind. The local lead travel agency told me that I did not need to reconfirm on AE so I dropped my search. When I checked in for return, the staff were wearing ALM uniforms with AE badges on neck chains--is ALM the on-island 'rep'? The absence of a visible 'presence' is a flaw in their system.
|By Jake Richter - NetTech on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 11:27 pm:|
Actually, you can dial 800 numbers from Bonaire by dialing 300 instead of 800, e.g. 001-300-1234567 (long distance charges apply).
|By Glen Reem on Friday, July 13, 2001 - 6:57 pm:|
|By Glen Reem on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 8:16 am:|
As promised, a report on my daughter's return BOS-SJU-BON. Her AA flight from BOS was delayed (2 hr as it happened by FlightTracker--six minutes to change planes in SJU!) so she switched to AA to MIA, ALM to BON w/o incident.
|By Kerri Freeman on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 7:53 pm:|
For what it's worth to the curious...One of the Canadian websites listed departures SJ to Bon as follows: Am. Airlines (ALM) Eastern Air (ALM) Delta Air(ALM).Glen, I'll take an iced glass of Gewirtztramminer, not that big a fan of beer.
|By Glen Reem on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 7:02 am:|
I think the cold has gotten to the Canadian websites!! Are you saying that all those airlines are listing flights SJU-BON with ALM flying the airplanes?? That is news. And a change from the flights I took. I did run into MIA-BON itineraries listing UA as flying to BON but it turned out to be 'flights by ALM'. URL for the 'Canadian site'??
|By Kerri Freeman on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 11:51 pm:|
Glen:Yes, I owe you a beer. BUT, you said "a little sleuthing on the island with a few Amstels" for the real airline.. right up there. If I remember the right website...I'd rather a wine, sans whine, of course. I think it was Air Canada site, but it could have been www.exit.ca . I'll check...I know, you're faster....
|By Kerri Freeman on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 1:45 am:|
On second thought, you'll have to let me look. It was when I was checking everywhere for fares, and making up cockamamie schedules to see who could get me where. But I remember it because it surprised me....
|By jeff on Wednesday, August 1, 2001 - 4:43 pm:|
Not off subject too much, but...
|By Glen Reem on Wednesday, August 1, 2001 - 8:46 pm:|
When my daughter left 4 weeks ago, the desk opened at about 4 am, with a crowd gathering before 5 am. When I got to the airport at 4:45 a week before that there was a short line which quickly lengthened. Nominal time is 2 hours before departure.
|By Vicki Murt on Thursday, August 2, 2001 - 5:12 pm:|
Jeff, it may be possible to obtain your boarding pass the night before (nights that AE flies into Bonaire). ALM does this after 6:00 pm for their flights the next day. That way, when you arrive all you have to do is get the bags checked. You might also check with them to see if you can pre-check your bags when you get your boarding pass (just need to keep a few items out for your carry-on bags). Depending on the number of agents available, you may be able to arrive at a more decent hour.
|By Glen Reem on Saturday, August 4, 2001 - 6:03 pm:|
Continuing AA/AE experience reports: my granddaughter and friend flew BOS-BON a week ago today with no hitches. Perhaps AE/AA have worked out the bugs.
|By Jim and Ceil on Sunday, August 5, 2001 - 11:27 am:|
I realize that ALM can be a test of one's patience more often than not, but I never hear anyone complain about the awful flight schedule on the AAEagle flights between SJU and BON. Any info that this schedule might improve??
|By Jake Richter - NetTech on Sunday, August 5, 2001 - 11:34 am:|
What "awful schedule" are you referring to? Connections to Bonaire seem fine for the few that I've looked at (Boston, Chicago). Perhaps the 6am departure is what you're referring to? That's because the plane overnights on Bonaire, and that's not likely to change. Best solution is to make your Bonaire trip 9 or 10 days (Thurs - Sun, Tues - Fri, Sat - Tues, etc.). A fourth flight is being added on Fridays (arrival) in September, by the way...
|By Jim and Ceil on Sunday, August 5, 2001 - 11:52 am:|
Jake, the early departure is half of my reference. The other half is the late arrival. We already come to Bonaire for 10-14 days per trip (and have been doing so for 14 years). The reason that we called the schedule awful is that you lose the late afternoon-evening of your arrival day, combined with an "unvacation-like" early departure (limiting diving the day before). I understand the fact that the plane overnights in Bonaire - I just wish this were more of a commitment on AA's part (this schedule seems more like "these people will accept anything, since ALM is so bad!").
|By Glen Reem on Sunday, August 5, 2001 - 12:36 pm:|
More like giving people west and north of Atlanta a crack at one day travel to and from Bonaire. Atlanta is a bit of an exaggeration but many earlier posts from the north and west have praised the schedule. For me, ALM's schedule out of JFK or Newark means a downbound departure from the house in CT at 5 am and a late arrival home. AA/AE is more comfortable in my life. The old non-stop from Newark was the good one: 10 am pushback.
|By michael gaynor on Sunday, August 5, 2001 - 4:31 pm:|
Hey....let's just be thankful that we have a flight that is relable and on time...no surprises. How many times have I heard the late arrival of the 5 oclock flight from Curacao pulling in at midnight (I live a few hundred meters south of the airport) The AA/AE flights have been a blessing for the businesses and frequent travelers to Bonaire. Once they get a good foot hold and can do turnaraound, same day flights, I bet the schedule will change and only one day will be messed up.
|By Jake Richter - NetTech on Sunday, August 5, 2001 - 7:45 pm:|
I'll echo Michael's sentiment - I've been on far too many 10pm, 11pm, Midnight, and beyond ALM arrivals. Getting into Bonaire at 8pm is great compared to that.
|By Barry Gassert on Sunday, August 5, 2001 - 9:05 pm:|
Jim...why do you have to miss the day before diving? Ever think of a pre-dawn dive? It's one of the most enjoyable dives there is - you find out when it gets light (not when the sun rises) and you plan to be IN the water 20 minutes before that time.
|By Vicki Murt on Monday, August 6, 2001 - 5:58 pm:|
The flight time into Bonaire during daylight savings time (8:15 pm) isn't too bad. But there is a definate problem with the 6:05 am departure. Especially since they would like to have you at the airport 2 hours early. AA/AE uses the early departure excuse for folks out on the west coast so they can make it home. Thats hogwash. Even if the plane arrives into SJU at 9:00 am, there would still be plenty of time to make the 11:30 am AA flight or other early afternoon flights out. Just take a look at the flight time during the winter - it leaves at 7:00 am! It is only for their convenience!!! Bonaire is the new kid on the block so we have to suffer.
|By jeff on Monday, August 6, 2001 - 8:43 pm:|
Another thought on the AE flight leaving early and diving the night before. 24 hours off before flying is the "standard" but DAN's own research showed that flying after diving with a 12 hour break was fine. They couldn't get anyone into trouble in simulated dives (in a chamber) with 12 hours or more. Of course, chambers aren't the same, but 99% of Bonaire's diving is pretty relaxed.
|By Barry Gassert on Monday, August 6, 2001 - 9:32 pm:|
Jeff....sounds like my kind of diving. I used to just hover there watching a zillion fish go to school....it was really like being in a fish tank. The final appreciation is when you exit and there are people there, having a cup of tea or coffee and you emerge from the depths - and they look at you with a wonderment in their eyes .
|By Glen Reem on Monday, August 6, 2001 - 10:54 pm:|
Isn't it wonderful to have the chance to discuss a choice of airlines to/from Bonaire??? 'To each, his own'.
|By Ann Phelan on Wednesday, September 5, 2001 - 6:35 pm:|
I wonder if I can bring windsurf gear on the AE flights. I will bring a mast/boom and sail. No board. Thanks..Annie
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