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Flight logistics

Oregon
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404 posts
88 reviews
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Flight logistics

After researching the best/most economical itinerary for Bonaire and Curacao, I booked 2 separate RT tix--from home to Bonaire and back on United, and Bonaire-Curacao-Bonaire on DAE. My question is since they're separate itineraries and separate airlines, what are the logistics I might need to be concerned about--on January 4th we have a 6:00 a.m. DAE flight that gets to Bonaire at 6:30 a.m. The United Airlines flight to the U.S. leaves at 8:30 a.m.

I was hoping/assuming that the 2 hour layover would be sufficient. I read a post on TA, however, about late/cancelled flights and the difficulty in getting around the ABCs. I would really appreciate anyone's experience if they had itineraries such as mine.

It really pays to do the research: I checked prices for 3 one ways (home-Bonaire, Bonaire-Curacao, Curacao-home), one multi-destination trip, and the 2 RT I chose. One-ways were a few hundred dollars more, but the multi-destination was almost twice as much as the 2 RT, as in $1,200 more (for just one person)!!

New England
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1. Re: Flight logistics

I would be concerned about the two hour connection in Bonaire for several reasons. First, DAE has a poor reputation for on-time flights and if they leave Curacao late they are under no obligation to help you with the United flight should you miss that. And keep in mind that United does not fly from Bonaire daily so getting on another United flight can mean waiting a week.

The second reason I would be concerned about the two hours is that once you land in Bonaire you will need to clear Immigration and Customs. Depending on the size of the plane and if any others are landing (such as the in-coming United) it could take you some time to get out of that area to check in with United.

The third reason I would be concerned is that United opens check-in 3 hours early and requires you to be checked in two hours before departure. While sometimes in the States people push that check-in to the limit our experience in Bonaire (multiple trips per year since 1998) is that they stick to that.

So, not trying to "rain on your parade" but based on my experiences I would not want a two hour window to land, get through, Immigration and Customs and then check in at United and go through security.

Oregon
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404 posts
88 reviews
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2. Re: Flight logistics

"OH!" I should have checked this before I booked the flights! Thanks so much for your response!! We're only going to Curacao because we thought that 3 weeks on Bonaire would be a bit much, and we wanted to go to Curacao. Maybe I can see about changing my (already set in stone, nonrefundable tickets) plans and leave a day early - is it possible to spend just one night on Bonaire, by the airport??

Oregon
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404 posts
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3. Re: Flight logistics

P.S. I'm a bit confused - if we're in transit, why do we need to go through customs? Anyone and everyone just flying through has to go through customs?? We don't do that when say connecting in Europe through Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, ... etc.

New England
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4. Re: Flight logistics

I can't imagine why you wouldn't be able to spend just one night somewhere and nothing is really far from the airport. Take a look at Hotel Roomer for one night.

New England
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5. Re: Flight logistics

The airport is not really set up for in-transit passengers, especially when changing airlines. There are a few KLM flights that stop in Bonaire on the way to South America and there is a separate lounge for them but not for other passengers. It is really more of a break lounge since they are not changing planes.

When we go to Bonaire we fly American to Curacao and then Divi to Bonaire. Because we are changing airlines and need to check in with each we are not considered "in transit" as far as Immigration, Customs and security because we need to get our luggage and check in at a new airline. It is the same thing in Bonaire. You will need to get your luggage and check in at United. There is no automatic transfer of luggage and you need to check in with the desk even if you check in on line. Just the way the tiny airport is set up.

Oregon
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404 posts
88 reviews
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6. Re: Flight logistics

Thank you so much for the info. I think I will have to do that (change the flights and spend the last night by the Bonaire airport). Too bad, as it will likely negate some of the savings we have with the 2 RT tickets, instead of flying into Bonaire and out of Curacao. But I can definitely see the potential pitfalls if I stick to our current plan! In all our travels, we've never been stuck (due to our own stupidity) somewhere, and this shouldn't be the first time!

Regina, SK
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7. Re: Flight logistics

Whatever you do DO NOT fly DAE. Four of us just returned from island hopping the ABC's. Jan. 24 we were to fly Aruba to Bonaire, it meant a layover in Curacao of 3 1/2 hours. Due to a plane with "mechanical troubles" our layover became 12 hours. Yes, 12 hours stuck in an airport with no assurance from DAE that a plane would even be available that day. When our flight finally did happen we flew from Curacao to Aruba to Bonaire and there was a full load of passengers. Next flight we had booked with DAE was from Bonaire to Curacao. Surprise, no plane again! Only 6 hour wait this time. It appears that DAE cancels flights until they get enough passengers to make them profitable as early and late flights seem to be more regular. Did I mention these are 15 minute flights? Also the airline did not notify us by email of the cancellations, nor did they put it on the departure board until after the fact. We were warned not to fly with DAE as they cancel many flights but could not imagine it happening in this part of the world. We had one more flight with DAE and chose to fly with another airline rather than take a chance on yet another "mechanical failure". Good luck.

Oregon
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404 posts
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8. Re: Flight logistics

Oh my, so sorry to hear of your troubles! I obviously hadn't read through enough forum posts before I booked my airfare earlier this week - RT Bonaire-Curacao--with DAE. I guess I just assumed they'd be OK (HA!)

I did heed someone's advice about 2 hours not being enough to come into Bonaire and get on a U.S. bound flight - even if the flight would be on time. We're due to go to Curacao from Bonaire on a flight that leaves at noon (so there could be later flights if necessary), and then return to Bonaire in the afternoon--not on the last flight of that day --the day before our morning flight back to the U.S.

Someone else said they flew with DAE and all went OK. The price for 2 RT tickets (U.S. - Bonaire and Bonaire-Curacao) was considerably cheaper and more convenient than flying home out of Curacao.

So at this point, I guess we'll just cross our fingers and hope for the best?? We're flying DAE on December 28th and January 3rd, so hopefully this is the peak of the season and their planes will be full and take off as scheduled. I don't want to spend even more money by getting flights on another airline (I've had 2 recommendations for Divi, but not Insel).

Vail, AZ
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5 posts
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9. Re: Flight logistics

We just returned on the 8:30 United flight from Bonaire to Houston. We thought the two hours early thing was a bit much but it ended up being pretty realistic with the various lines and not being familiar with the airport.

One thing to keep in mind is that the same plane that leaves at 8:30 also is the one that arrives from Houston about 6:30 so all the people from the United flight from Houston would be going though the Customs line about the same time as you. (There's also a 7:00 AM flight to Newark that--if late, could really jam up the airport.)

I hope things go smoothly for you.

Ottawa, Illinois
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47 posts
4 reviews
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10. Re: Flight logistics

Dont use Dutch Antilles Express Airlines! We did and we spent 8 hrs on day one and 10 hrs day two waiting in the airport. Return was 2 hours and lost luggage.

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