Sail Away - November 2006

Travel SmartsWe’ve heard some sad tales from a number of reader/charterers who had troubles getting themselves and their luggage to the desired destination in the Caribbean. There’s no way to solve their problems retroactively, of course, but there are ways to prevent them in the future. I talked with Judy Shapiro, an agent with Caribbean Travel (800-327-5540) for
Author:
Publish date:
1106sa

Travel Smarts

We’ve heard some sad tales from a number of reader/charterers who had troubles getting themselves and their luggage to the desired destination in the Caribbean. There’s no way to solve their problems retroactively, of course, but there are ways to prevent them in the future. I talked with Judy Shapiro, an agent with Caribbean Travel (800-327-5540) for 15 of her 24 years in the business; she’s helped me out any number of times with complicated travel plans. She’s not the greatest living expert, she says—just opinionated, and happy to voice her opinions on her clients’ behalf.

MISSED CONNECTIONS. If you’re flying through San Juan, Puerto Rico—it’s the usual gateway to other Caribbean destinations—your ongoing flight may be scheduled for 1 hour, 10 minutes (the legal minimum) after your scheduled arrival in San Juan. However, Judy says that 2 hours is the minimum time that works; you’ll need more time if you have to clear customs and security.

If you know before you even leave your home airport that you’re going to miss your connection because your departure has been delayed, call your travel agent or the airline as soon as possible and rebook that flight. Have 800 numbers for both with you.

If you’re flying on one major airline on both legs of your trip and miss the connection, that airline will book you on the next available flight that has space for you. It is sometimes possible to have your original carrier endorse your ticket over to another carrier that does have space, but they must have a preexisting ticketing agreement. It’s worth asking.

There are a number of small independent airlines flying interisland routes in the Caribbean. If another carrier won’t take their tickets, a missed or canceled flight on the second leg can leave you in the soup. Judy recommends that you ask your agent or the airline directly whether they have ticketing agreements with any of these small airlines before you book with one of them; if the airline uses paper tickets, she says, it’s a clue that their tickets are not being accepted by other airlines.

However, Judy says that if you can get your major carrier to endorse your ticket (they’re supposed to), most smaller airlines will accept it. But find out first if the smaller airline has a seat for you; they use small planes with limited seating.

Rule 240, a federal requirement before deregulation, describes your rights if you’re stranded. Each airline has its own interpretation of its obligation to provide meals or accommodations. It’s worthwhile checking airline Web sites and doing a search on “Rule 240” to find out how this works; mytravelrights.com has a discussion plus information on individual airlines.

LOST LUGGAGE. We heard from one reader whose luggage took almost a week to catch up with him in Tortola; he and the rest of his party bought a few necessary pieces of clothing and found that you really don’t need much when you’re on a boat in the tropics. My strategy is to use carry-on only; my small bag and small, waterproof backpack (good for transporting a camera in a dinghy or a rainstorm) have done the job on many trips, and I have the comfort of knowing that I’m the only one who can lose my bag. With current regulations forbidding packing some necessities in a carry-on bag, I’m planning to buy toothpaste, shampoo, and sunscreen on arrival.

Report missing luggage before you leave the airport. At the same time, ask whether and how much the airline will allow for replacement of necessities; this compensation will be available only if the delay exceeds 24 hours. If the delay is overnight but less than 24 hours, the airline will probably offer you a packet of toiletries. Here, too, different airlines have different policies. And, says Judy, if you don’t ask, you’re definitely not going to get anything. Document the facts and keep receipts. Amy Ullrich

Sail Away Archive

When Winter Comes (October 2006)

Should You Insure Your Trip? (September 2006)

Stormy Weather (August 2006)

Charter a Passage (July 2006)

Less is More (June 2006)

Summer in the Islands (May 2006)

Caribbean Notes (April 2006)

Where to Go Now (March 2006)

Wedding Bells (February 2006)

Charter Cats (January 2006)

Related

IMG_0173

Electronic “Flares” for Cruisers

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boats operating in coastal waters or on the high seas carry a selection of visual distress signals. Almost invariably, such signals include the pyrotechnic type, either handheld or fired from a flare pistol, but surely there are ...read more

M2-HOOK-TOP-AND-CHAIN-1

Gear: M2 Chain Hook from Mantus

Stay Hooked Chain hooks on anchor snubber lines tend to fall off when you least want them to. Not so this latest example from Mantus. The M2 Chain Hook is secured to the chain by a simple elastic strap, so it won’t come off when the snubber loosens. Made from corrosion-resistant ...read more

shutterstock_349918991

Successful Surf Landings with Wheels

“Ready to take the dink ashore?” Never had those words invoked as much anxiety as when my husband, Jeff, and I first moved to the Pacific Coast. Why? Because we had exactly zero experience with dinghy surf landings, and the possibility of being flipped upside down along with our ...read more

Sail2010_597

How to: Find Good Values on Charter Vacations

So, you want to find a great deal on your next charter vacation? Sure, you can scour the internet, hope for Black Friday deals or ask friends. But an even better way to find good prices on charter boats is to go to a boat show. Not only do charter companies like The Moorings, ...read more

leadphoto

Know How: Dinghy Modification

The rigmarole of stretching a cover over a dinghy in choppy water prior to hoisting it on davits can become a very wet business if you’re not careful. Leaning right over either end, trying to stretch a cover over the bow and stern pods can quite easily result in a head-first dip ...read more

25980

Catnapped Aboard a Racing Multihull

It was after midnight when I realized my daysail with Tony Bullimore aboard his giant record-breaking catamaran, Team Legato, was not going to plan. The big cat was en route for a December dash from England across the Bay of Biscay to Barcelona and the start of a drag race ...read more