Once you've decided where in the Caribbean you want to go, the next step is choosing an airline to fly there.
By Lisa Mullins Bishop, Caribbean Edge Staff Writer
A number of major airlines have regular flights to the region. These include American, Delta, US Airways, American Eagle, Continental, United, Northwest, Air Jamaica, Air Canada, and British Airways. There are also a few smaller Caribbean airlines that provide service between the islands.
Many travelers book their flights through a travel agent. Others prefer to make their own arrangements, often online through either an airline's web site or a travel booking site. Some of the most well known online travel sites include Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, Cheaptickets, Site59, or Onetravel are all online travel sites, and each has its own niche. Priceline offers cheap fares, but travelers must bid on them. Expedia lets travelers select their arrival and departure times, Priceline requires that a passenger accept a flight any time between the hours of 6:00 AM and 10:PM with at least one stop. Some of these sites require that you become a member, while others do not. When evaluating fares, remember to factor in the cost of membership to a travel web site.
When selecting a Caribbean flight, remember that a nonstop flight does not make any stops, while a direct flight stops at least once. Caribbean airlines sometimes jointly operate a connecting flight, so if you have a preference as to which airline you wish to fly with, make sure you know the carrier of your connecting flight.
Both the airlines and the travel sites often have web only specials, so it's wise to check out web sites. Most savvy travelers compare prices by checking online and by calling the airlines directly. When you do find a good rate, book it immediately. Often this rate is available for only a short period or on a limited basis. If you wait, it may not be there.
Consider flying to the Caribbean during non-peak hours or into an alternate airport. These rates are typically less expensive. Roundtrip Caribbean flights are the least expensive and must be purchased in advance. In most cases you can change your return date, but you will pay a fee for doing so. Most low-fare tickets, however, are nonrefundable. Check whether the flight is nonstop (no stops are made) or direct (at least one stop is made). A flight from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico is about 3.5 hours, while a flight from Miami to San Juan is about 1.5.
Always confirm your flight before leaving for the airport. With the new safety regulations in place, you will need to allow plenty of time to pass through security.
Caribbean airports are small and most planes disembark on the tarmac and then passengers proceed to the terminal. Sometimes there is a shuttle, but generally passengers will walk to the terminal. If you are unable to do this because of a physical problem, ask the airline about alternate arrangements.
LIAT (Leeward Island Air Transporation)
LIAT operates a fleet of sleek Bombardier aircraft and claims to serve more Caribbean destinations more frequently than anyone else... more
Airlines by Island: