Cape Air 808
St Thomas (STT) – San Juan (SJU)
12 May 2014
Apparently there were no United flights on the day I wanted to leave the island, so United’s website sent me to one of their partners, Cape Air. They mainly operate small aircraft around the Caribbean region.
I should note first, St Thomas airport is one hell of a mess and on top of it all the staff are very rude. The drive to the airport is nice, as you are literally driving next to the runway.
My dad dropped me off around two hours before my flight (since I needed to clear US Customs and Immigration). Once inside the airport, I found the check-in counter, which was well… umm.. interesting.
I walked up and handed the agent my passport. She didn’t say anything for five minutes and proceeded to type (very loudly) on her 1970s ancient computer. Then she finally said ‘My system is very slow, let me restart it’. This took around half an hour and at this point there were lines forming for immigration. From the looks of the airport, I knew they didn’t have Global Entry. She finally restarts the system and asks me ‘How much do you weigh?’ I assumed she meant my check-in baggage (maybe the machine was broken) and I replied around 25 kg, she stared at me and said ‘Honey don’t ya lie to me’. Then she said again ‘How much do you weight?’ So I told her and she explained that in small aircraft everything had to be weighed to the kg. She even weighed my carry on bag.
She finally printed my boarding passes and tagged my luggage and I walked off to immigration. Once I started to walk, she started to yell at me ‘Take your baggage!’ Take my baggage? Apparently you have to take your baggage here and drop it off once past immigration. Ok, so I took it and went towards immigration.
There were three officers working at the rather small facility and they asked all of the standard questions and told me where to drop off my baggage. So I headed to the area where they actually screen your bags, I placed it on the table and started to walk away. Once again, I was yelled at and this time I was told I had to stay there until they x-rayed my bag. Ok, fair enough. On all islands they never seem to care about time, they take all of the time in the world. They don’t care about being late or anything like that. Now, I wasn’t worried at all about making the flight, since probably the pilot hadn’t even arrived to the airport yet.
They x-rayed my baggage and then one of the agents asked me what the ‘large amount of paper reading material’ was inside. I replied travel catalogues and books (that I had taken to the beaches), she said ‘We’ll see…’ Then she proceeded to put some blue gloves on and open my baggage. As she was doing this, she told me ‘You do know porn isn’t allowed’ and I just thought to myself no $#!t, really?!? WTF? She then flipped all of my catalogues, page by page (which took another 30 minutes). Seriously? Searching for porn on every possible page in all of my catalogues!?!? Once I got through security (which I swear was harder to do than on the mainland), I went to the gate and of course, the flight was delayed. Wow, I totally wasn’t expecting that!
Around an hour after scheduled departure, the plane finally shows up and the boarding process went something like this: An agent called out our names and had us reply ‘here’ and then we followed him to the Cessna.
They took our carry on bags and stowed them in the nose of the plane and in the wings. There are special compartments all over the plane and they weighed everything down to the last kg.
The pilot showed up and gave the following safety briefing: ‘Cell phones off, emergency exits to my left and right, fire extinguisher here’ And that’s it. Ok, cool, whatever, this is how they live on the islands. We took off and the 20 minute journey to San Juan was very beautiful.
While the journey was beautiful, it looked like it was raining in Puerto Rico.
I will say that the view I had was the best from any commercial flight that I’ve ever flown in my life.
The whole journey took 36 minutes from getting into the airplane to getting out. They had a van waiting for the few of us (I felt like at Frankfurt Airport, getting transported to the FCT), and we were inside the terminal shortly. The strangest thing was that the pilot did not make any contact through the plane’s radio. Nothing, he did not ask for permission to take-off or land. No communication at all.