Sep 022011

The airport in Bonaire is pretty strange – check-in is under a roof, but there are no walls – it’s an open-air check-in area.  Check-in however was very quick and nothing terribly exciting.  We opted to wait in a cafe that at least had a mild breeze to cut the hot temps outside which was better than nothing.  In retrospect, we should definitely have gone straight through security to the gate, since the one-room gate area was air conditioned and nice and cool!

Boarding was roughly on-time and soon we were on the plane for the short 15 minute or so flight between Bonaire and Curacao.

Insel Air Flight 306
Bonaire (BON) to Curacao (CUR)
Depart 11:40, Arrive 12:15 – arrived 10 minutes early
Fokker F-50 Prop Plane, Registration PJ-KVG, Manufactured 1991
Seats 1A and 1C

This flight featured open seating, so we made sure to be first on board to grab a decent seat. Not that it mattered for such a short flight, but was still nice to be in the bulkhead row. It was a short flight of 15 minutes tops, and I was surprised we actually went up to 6,000 feet for the short hop. Soon we were in Curacao, through immigration and to the hotel.

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Aug 292011

When we were planning our hops around the ABC Islands, I was hoping to fly into one island, then to the next, then the next, and then out to somewhere in northern south america to continue the trip. The main challenge, however, was that once you were in the islands, all flights seemed to go via Curaçao. However, a bit of research turned up a small airline called Tiara Air who flew nonstop from Aruba to Bonaire, and then we could easily fly on to Curaçao and out to Caracas or Bogotá. Easy choice!

Booking Tiara Air was also pretty easy. Their website was quite easy to use and user-friendly, and soon we were confirmed at times that worked perfectly with our schedule. The big drama came when I checked my AmEx, and there was a strange charge from some company in Peru. I’ve never been to peru, and was pretty sure something was up so I called to have AmEx look into it. About 6 weeks later they e-mailed me a PDF of my Tiara Air tickets. Why they billed from Peru is beyond me – so just something to be alert to.

One thing I was pretty excited about was the plane. Tiara flies a fleet of Shorts 360 aircraft (also known as the SD3-60) which are manufactured in Northern Ireland and can hold up to 36 passengers. We’d flown planes made in the US, Canada, Brazil, Russia, China, the Netherlands to date, but definitely nothing from Northern Ireland – this was going to be fun!

Check-in was quick and efficient in Aruba, and the “non-US” check-in area was in a room which could double as a walk-in freezer it was so cold. Then, it was on to a connecting area outside which took us to the main terminal and immigration. Our incoming flight was late, so we ended up boarding and leaving about 15 minutes late.

Tiara Air (3P) Flight 303
Aruba to Bonaire
Shorts 360 – Seat 7A – Registration P4-TIA, date of manufacture unknown
Depart: 9:10 Arrive: 10:00, actual arrival 10:10

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