I was going to do a trip report for my whole journey back, but my SJU-DFW is going to be quite long, so here's just the ATR hop from Barbados (BGI) to SJU. The reason for the trip was that I had to be in SJU for work on a Monday at 11:00am, so I spent the weekend in Barbados for some R & R and then caught the 8:15am ATR to SJU. It's a scheduled 2:30 flight on an ATR!! I survived it!
Sunrise in Barbados. Barbados is on the wrong time zone! This picture was at about 5:30am. Sunset is like at 6:00pm. If both were moved an hour or two later, it would be better.
My last view of the beach before heading to the airport at 6:00am.
I got to the airport at 6:30am for my 8:15am departure, not knowing how busy it was going to be. The airport was dead. Nobody was there! All the big flights are in the afternoon.
Here are some pictures I had taken the day before, after visiting the Concorde museum.
This was about how busy everything was. I was the only person at the AA check in, as a 757 was in final boarding call status to MIA, and the SJU ATR was booked lightly and was still 2 hours from departure.
Here's a bar sponsored by the very popular Barbados Banks Beer for folks waiting to pick up people.
BA showing some class
VS trying to be helpful
VS check-in. They are the only 747 carrier to BGI. BA sends a 777 in 4-class configuration.
The departure board with the interesting destinations. A security person looked at me strangely as I took this picture! They didn't say anything, and speaking of that, everyone I met on the whole island seemed nice.
The two interisland carriers side-by-side.
So it was time for me to go through security and see what was inside! When I went through x-ray, which didn't take long at all, I was surprised at all the duty free shops. Then I realized they have multiple widebody departures daily to the UK, so there's a market!
See how nice the duty free shops look?
The windows looking outside were filthy, spotted with raindrops and dust, so I couldn't take any good pictures. Here's the AA 757 to MIA taxiing out.
My plane! The agent told me the gate would be announced an hour before departure. It didn't take me long to guess where it would be.
My plane was to be the ATR-72 212 (the 4-blade). Most of the 6-blade ATR 72-212A fleet is in DFW now.
Liat Dash 8s. Departures to POS and other islands were being announced constantly.
Booked 40% full
Status: departed and arrived early
Flight time 2:13
Almost 600 miles over open water in a turboprop!
Cruising Altitude 21,000
At the gate as boarding time approached, first I noticed how many agents they had. A 4 to 1 ratio of passengers per agent! The agents went through the gate collecting the gate-checked bags as they have to physically weigh each one. They took them from people at the gate and said you can claim them at the bottom of the stairs in San Juan.
Count them...7 agents for an ATR booked with 25 people!
Then they were ready to board about 25 minutes before departure, and realized the crew had not arrived yet! At 17 minutes before scheduled departure time, the crew arrived. We boarded at 15 minutes before departure. I was on the plane 10 minutes before departure. We closed the door and started up 7 minutes before departure. I'm not sure we had a thorough walk-around by the pilots, but we certainly got going quickly!
These agents don't seem to have much to do, since there are enough to staff a 744.
We turned north and then I hoped to see a bunch of islands, but we only flew over one island and then went northwest to Puerto Rico over open water. One thing of note. It was the first time on a regional airplane where I've seen a full lifevest demonstration.
Some views outside. The high wing of the ATR makes it a great sight-seeing plane. The cabin was quiet and not much vibration (I was on an ATR the other day with bad vibration). This one was smooth.
The cabin crew of two flight attendants were nice. We had the traditional drink service and that was about it, but they were friendly and professional.
After landing, to my surprise, we taxied to the new Eagle gates. There are no longer buses involved in flying American Eagle at San Juan. Eagle has some actual gates now finally! And they are close to US Customs/Immigration.
I took this shot while waiting for my valet-checked bag to arrive.
US Customs and Immigration was quick and painless. Most of the people on my plane were visitors, so I didn't have to wait long. We were the only flight clearning at the time, and as I said before, it was a light load.
Here is the setup of Eagle at SJU now where you walk to the building rather than take buses.
Overall the agents and crew for this flight were all friendly and professional. The flight was on time, or early rather. I had always wanted to do a SJU Caribbean long-haul ATR run, so I satisfied that want. It was a good trip.
Thule From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 97 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (3 years 11 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 7612 times:
Great report! I'm headed to SJU via DFW (and then from SJU to JFK) this summer on 757s, so I'd actually be pretty happy to see a recent TR, to get a visual comparison with the generally-negative thread about AA's 757s going in General Aviation.
I remember way back when I was a kid (ok, not way back, more like 15 years ago) taking several flights on American Eagle to STT out of SJU's huge parking lot... but I don't think it was always on ATRs. I remember flying on something that was a lot shorter and boxier - can someone help me out here?
STT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16247 posts, RR: 52 Reply 6, posted (3 years 11 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 7482 times:
Quoting Thule (Reply 5): I remember way back when I was a kid (ok, not way back, more like 15 years ago) taking several flights on American Eagle to STT out of SJU's huge parking lot
Yeah I've take the American Eagle hop from SJU-STT, I believe I was on an ATR-42 (not 72). We had to take the bus to the aircraft at SJU, my only complaint was the ATRs were very hot and stuffy. Even during the flight.
Cambrian From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 617 posts, RR: 5 Reply 8, posted (3 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 7119 times:
Great trip report, and thanks for posting. I have taken that flight several times. My experiences on American Eagle were rather less positive than yours, I have to say.
A flight of 2.30 on an ATR is simply too long for me. This flight can often seem endless and the service that I have received in the past has been anything but friendly and professional. I remember on one occasion that the FA's walked down the aisle dispensing packets of crisps from a bin liner! To think that AA once flew the A300 on this route. I think that many Bajans still take this flight to go shopping in San Juan, although Miami is just as convenient.
Perhaps you were unlucky not to overfly other islands. IIRC, I overflew several islands on this flight in the past.
I have never been so relieved to see the north west coast of Barbados appearing in the distance!
Barbados is a beautiful island, and the people are so friendly. Grantley Adams airport has changed a lot in recent years, and for the better.