You have the perfect vacation planned and you have check all your list and confirmed all your travel arrangement, you expect it to go somewhat smooth. That is what I thought before my the US Virgin Islands (USVI), that is when our nightmare started. We planned a winter escape to the Island of St. John’s staying at the Maho Bay Camp’s with a one stop flight in Miami International Airport (MIA) and then on to Cyril E. King Airport (STT). From Cyril E. King Airport we were going to take the taxi to the Ferry across to St. John’s and then Fretts Taxi service to Maho Bay Camps.
I consider myself a seasoned traveler and understand that things not always go right and weather is a key factor when traveling. After boarding in Chicago there was problems with the engines on the plane and bad weather was rolling in. I came to assume that there was going to be some time delay, but not the two plus hours that American Airlines (www.aa.com) had a fully boarded plane waiting on the ground. Frequent updates via my Blackberry I knew before they announced it to the plane that we were going to be delayed.
After long delays in Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), boarding, de-boarding and re-boarding we arrived in Miami International Airport, only to miss our connecting flight by 10 minutes. Now we have to go stand in line at the help desk with everyone on our flight that missed their connection. I do have to say that they were really helpful, I made sure to ask about our bags and the assured me there was going to be no problem for our bags to get on the flight. We collected our meal voucher and went on our way to get food.
The next leg of the flight went off without a hitch and we are finally out of the winter blizzards of Chicago and to the warm air of the US Virgin Islands. We hurried to the baggage claim so we would not miss the last ferry from St. Thomas to St. Johns. To my surprise there were not many bags coming off the plane. I was one of the lucky few that bag was on the flight but my friends did not fare to well along with 50 other bags from the flight. How is that possible I asked my self?
At this point the only American Airlines personal was not helpful at all. She gave you a sheet of paper and told you to call the American Airlines 800 number, and she did not know when you will get your bag. I walked out side to see if I could find someone else who could help me. Outside I spoke to the local taxi drivers and they informed me that this happens on almost every flight coming to the island. I was shocked, why would the airline not inform us of this when we booked our ticket.
I even called the airlines and they said that there is nothing they could do over the phone and I would have to speak to someone at the airport. I explained that there was no one here that was willing to help all these people. Seems that they are just used to these calls and pass the blame on someone else.
After the poor customer service at the airport, long mechanical delay’s, weather delays, missing baggage and lack of employees to handle the volume of continues problems that seem to be plaguing the airport. We received the bags two days later and found out that the Camp receives at least two bags a day that missed the traveler’s fight down to the island. From a travelers perspective these numbers seem a bit high and it affects almost all airlines traveling to the Islands. Someone needs to review the business model. After all the trouble American Airlines will only give you $25 USD a day for not having a bag, and your travelers insurance does not cover delayed bags.
Traveling can sometimes be a game and you just want to get through with the least amount of bruises. Here are some tips that might help you get through your next adventure untouched.
Traveler tip #1: If it is the airlines fault you miss your connection you should get a meal voucher y for your hotel if there is no other flights going out that day.
Traveler tip #2: Checked bags will not always make your flight, pack change of clothes and other important items in your carry-on bag or better yet do not check bags.
Traveler tip #3: Be nice to the airport airlines employees, it is not their fault there was problems, and they are the ones that will help you get on the way or fix the problem.
Traveler tip #4: Insurance booked on discount online booking sites do not always cover delayed baggage.
Traveler tip #5: Scuba Divers should always carry as much of the equipment on the plane to make sure you have it at your end destination.
Traveler tip #5: Always give yourself plenty of time between connection or just book a direct flight and pay a bit more.