I failed to emphasize my experience with Cape Air and the Ft. Lauderdale airport and how it’s changed my perspective on flying. Other than being in the dark about why we landed on a runway in a “SEA”plane on a completely different island that expected, the experience was simply amazing for several reasons.
- No Lines at Check In: Cape Air’s desk was stuffed in the middle of several Jet Blue desks that had lines zigzagging for what seemed like a mile. We literally walked right up to the Cape Air counter, checked in, dropped our bags and were at the gate in a matter of 10 minutes. Even security had no line. Whaaaaaa?
- Informalities: Because the check in lady, was the gate lady, and was the ground crew, they knew who we were. So when it was time to board our plane, they just walked right up to us to tell us they were ready. No microphones, no boarding orders, etc. We followed her onto the tarmac, handed them our carryons, and hopped into the plane. As we prepared for takeoff, I saw the pilot talking to the family in front of us which I assume was the security brief. I couldn’t hear a word. On our flight back from Bimini, the pilot just turned around and gave a 2 minute security brief with a few jokes peppered throughout and we were off.
- Small Airports = Small Customs: Flying back to the US via Ft. Lauderdale was a breeze as compared to the return to Miami Int’l that we have come to dread. Getting through customs at the Miami airport is like an hour long cattle herding event that easily covers a half mile of airport hallways. It’s ridiculous, so don’t ever do it if you don’t have to. When we arrived at the Ft. Lauderdale airport from Bimini, we parked at the FBO instead of at the terminal/gate that we left from. An FBO is a Fixed Based Operator, small miniature terminals for private planes and rich people. It’s a beautiful thing. The pilots unloaded our bags and led us right into the Sheltair FBO to the customs desk. There were only about 10 of us and 1 CBP officer checking our passports and luggage. In 5 minutes, we were done and boarded a shuttle that took us right to our parking terminal.
- No charge for bags: 1 suitcase, 1 carryon, and 1 personal item are free. That’s hard to find these days. Additionally, from what I interpreted on their website, if you need to change your flight, you will just pay the difference in fair and not a change fee. I could be wrong but I didn’t see a change fee anywhere.
Cape Air is just one of several small commuter airlines (puddle jumpers) throughout the US with regularly scheduled flights to choose from. I have never considered flying one of these as I always assumed they were unaffordable. As it turns out, it was the same price as a major carrier with a fraction of the hassle. I will ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS look for flights through Ft. Lauderdale and with small carriers before I will ever deal with the Miami cluserf*ck again.
Hope you will consider giving a smaller airline a shot next time you fly. It’s totally worth it if available.
On a completely separate note: If you even read this Bimini blog you might be wondering why I booked at a resort if resorts aren’t my thing. Very good question. This trip was a spur of the moment trip, we got a great friends and family deal on the Hilton rate, and I didn’t do as much research as I should have. It turned out to be a good choice given the weather situation but had the weather been nicer, I would have wished we stayed at Bimini Big Game Club. So check that out if you want to visit Bimini anytime soon.