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Saturday at the airport

Menlo Park...
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Saturday at the airport

I meant to post this message last year, but then fond memories of blissful weeks diving in Roatan made me forget. ....do whatever you have to in order to avoid leaving from the Roatan airport on Saturday. Maybe even arriving on Saturday too, though it's not nearly so bad.

On Saturday between 12 and 2 the 3 US carriers attempt to board 4 large planes nearly simultaneously, and the result is a zoo. Probably throw in a Canadian carrier or two. The planes are boarded not by airline employees, but by the airport employees. So they will process one group of passengers, while everyone at the counter next door stands and waits, generally in a line going out the doors, which means no one gets to enjoy the air conditioning. I'm not sure what the priority is. And then they are boarded from the gate one at a time. I'm not sure that arriving at the airport early would do any good. You will just find the counter unattended. Then a line to pay the departure tax and then security and then another security as you board the plane, as though the first was not sufficient. By the time you are on the plane, you could really use a vacation. So you get to extend your trip with an unplanned overnight in Houston or dallas or Atlanta.

The airport has recently been nicely remodeled. But what has to happen is the airport has to hire lots more part-time employees to fully staff all the departure counters. This is so obvious to the airlines that I'm amazed they don't become more insistent.

Calgary
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495 posts
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1. Re: Saturday at the airport

Is this only on Sat or Sunday too? We fly out on Sunday and only have an hour to get thru customs in Huston and catch our connecting flight to Calgary.

Rosedale, Canada
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2. Re: Saturday at the airport

We fly out of Roatan on a Saturday :( . Our flight is 3:40 pm so hope we don't run into what you describe! We are overnighting in Houston so the connection is not an issue, but my poor bad back would be crying out !

Edited: 01 April 2014, 20:16
Vancouver, Canada
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228 posts
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3. Re: Saturday at the airport

We departed on a Wednesday (March 19th) and it was pretty much as dh described. American and United leaving pretty much at the same time, one smaller flight to San Salvador and the gate area was packed to the rim.

The departure gate area is simply to small, people have to stand and sit in a very area small area. It feels cramped....

They should use the 'departure tax' to double or triple the departure area in my opinion.

On the other hand, arriving was a breeze, took us all of 15 minutes to be out of the airport....

winneconne,wi
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286 posts
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4. Re: Saturday at the airport

We departed on March 1st and as dhauk said it is a Zoo. I can not believe how small the gate area is, and that three Airlines were trying to board their planes all within about 10 minutes of each other. Give yourself plenty of time.

Menlo Park...
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5. Re: Saturday at the airport

Sunday is easy since neither American nor Delta have flights that day. The 3:40 on Saturday is the last big plane out, so things might have cleared up by then. The prior departures are scheduled out over an hour earlier.

My experience at Houston is that it is a long way from the plane to immigration, then if you have checked baggage you have to wait for that to clear customs. Then recheck bags, then go through security. So if possible don't check your bags. If you have to spend the night in Houston, don't feel too bad. Some people have to live there.

Rosedale, Canada
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6. Re: Saturday at the airport

- "The 3:40 on Saturday is the last big plane out, so things might have cleared up by then".

dhauk: Thanks for that -fingers crossed.

- "If you have to spend the night in Houston, don't feel too bad. Some people have to live there".

Ha ha! We actually don't mind the overnight. We try to stay at the Holiday Inn as we find the staff there are always so friendly and upbeat, same as in their restaurant. I agree though, wouldn't want to live there.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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7. Re: Saturday at the airport

dreaminofsunshine - I would definitely fly carry-on only if you can, that's a really quick turn around and, frankly, we haven't had great luck leaving Honduras on time. Fingers and toes crossed!

NJ
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378 posts
15 reviews
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8. Re: Saturday at the airport

Flying United we always travel Saturday to Saturday and it is 100% true - just madhouse. When we departed the island on March 1st - there was literally no more room to stand in the waiting area. United, American and Delta were all flying out. We could mot hear which flights were being boarded because of the horrible PA system and the loudness of the overwhelming crowd. If it were not for an airport employee running around the airport screaming at the top of his lungs that it was final boarding for United - we would have missed the plane.

I am hoping that they fix this asap as it really is a bad scene. as far as arrival - we carry on - so have not had issues with that.

Calgary
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9. Re: Saturday at the airport

Thanks for the info, unfortunately carry on isn't an option for us.

I just double checked our flights and it's actually 1.5 hours. Hopefully that 1/2 hour makes a difference.

I'm not going to worry about it. Nothing I can do at this point. If we end up missing our connection home I'll deal with it then.

How early should we get to the Roatan airport before departure? We leave at 1:07pm, Is 2 hours enough to pay the departure tax, check in and everything? We are flying United by the way.

NJ
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378 posts
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10. Re: Saturday at the airport

2 hours is a good amount of time to pay the tax, check in and go through security - you might even have time to gran one last Berena before leaving paradise.