Flying to the Carribean
So, I'm thinking of doing a charter sometime this spring/early summer. After a quick check with some major companies and expedia it seems that the cost of airline tickets can be a considerable part of the cost of the vacation.
Any of you old hands have idea about where and when I could be more reasonable ticket prices? For instance it seems that flying to St Vincent was about 2 times the cost of flying to the BVIs. Is that pretty typical?
Indeed, flying into some of the outlying Islands is pricier than others, but I'm not sure that there's anything much we can do about it.
Booking a return ticket to a single destination helps, eg flying in and out of Guadaloupe, say, you can get on charter flights that may save you money. Our preference is to fly into one area and fly out of another, avoiding a circular route during our weeks on the boat.
We have used the Island hopper flights such as LIAT or Caribbean Star but even those flights can get expensive (though friend last year found, on the net, a flight from Grenada to St Lucia for around $20 US/person.) They arranged round trip tickets to St Lucia and then sailed to Grenada and hopped back.
This last trip we flew into Martinique via American Airlines and American Eagle, and flew out from Grenada with the same providers and it worked out well, but cost for 4 from Vancouver Canada was around $6500CDN (incl. insurance) - not exactly cheap. But after searching all the travel sites and getting confused we used a trusted travel agent and I don't think we would have done much better. We were also very limited in our travel time options so that made things more difficult.
If your itinerary can be flexible you can probably do better too.
Good luck - adding the cost of the charter to high airfares makes the whole package a bit less attractive, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, you have picked up an ugly truth.
What city are You flying out of? Charter island preferences?
A few ideas:
1) frequent flyer miles - harder than ever & you may have to sit on the wing
2) Fly middle of the week
3) Pick islands that have direct jet service & are popular with land tourists
ie; St Martin (SXM), St. Thomas (STT)
4) Try various departure cities that You can get to cheaper on another airline ie; Chicago, NYC, Atlanta, CLT
5) Charter Company Airfare - several times during the year Moorings, Sunsail & others offer airfare discounts, at least get a quote to see how it compares
6) Try airline websites vs Orbitz, etc
The bad part about it is that the airlines have no logical fare plan. Their numbers jump all over the place:confused:
I'm currently in the Caribbean (well, Guyana is technically part of South America but it is culturally and economically Caribbean).
BWIA was restructured on Jan 1 to become Caribbean Airlines (after over 60 yrs). Consequence fewer flights.
LIAT and Caribbean Star are also in negs to merge. Consequence, fewer flights. (lots of trouble and irregularities with them lately)
If you are coming via Miami or New York, you can look into two charter companies (reasonably reliable): Constellation Tours and TravelSpan. Both reasonably priced (google for their websites). Because they are charters, their flights will not show up on Expedia, Travelocity, etc.
Bahamas or the BVI's or USVI's will be your cheapest...expect to pay 50-100% more to get to any other islands.
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