NASBWI From Bahamas, joined Feb 2005, 1255 posts, RR: 0 Posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 7579 times:
I've posted a few times in the Civil Aviation forum here, but this is my very first trip report, so be gentle! I'll try not to leave anything juicy out. I flew down to Exuma, Bahamas on April 28th for the annual Regatta, which is a HUGE deal to most Bahamians (and quite a few foreigners as well), and it's hosted in Georgetown, Exuma. Exuma is (depending on who you're talking to) one of the most gorgeous chains of islands around, and arguably the jewel of the Bahamian archipelago. To get there, I chose Sky Bahamas, an up-and-coming scheduled carrier whose roots were planted with Sky Unlimited, a charter company based in Nassau.
Sky Bahamas has a fleet of Saab 340As and a lone Beech 1900D (incidentally, I flew on her going down to GGT and she's apparently the second 1900D off the production line, having served previously with Mesa Airlines). Without further ado, I'll get to the actual trip details.
The domestic departures lounge in NAS:
Checkin in Nassau was a breeze, and the customer service agent behind the counter was friendly, professional, and courteous. Not that I would expect any differently from my Bahamian people, but I'm sure many have heard rumors surrounding the service (of lack thereof) of one giant in the playpen (cough cough UP cough). Anyhoo, I was assigned seat 8A, departing NAS at 11.00am, and arriving GGT at 11.45am. Boarding was quick and efficient, called about 15 minutes prior to departure. We congregated outside the departure lounge, and the same agent who checked me in escorted the group of 17 passengers to the waiting aircraft.
Sky Bahamas has their own upholstery for their B1900:
One last look at -SBF as we make our way to the baggage claim (really just an area to wait while the golf cart tugs in the luggage).
It was a great flight down; the Captain made an announcement before takeoff, greeting us aboard the short flight along with weather and arrival information. Obviously, no cabin service onboard, but for such a short flight, would anyone miss it? The only unfortunate (and understandable) part was that my luggage did not make that flight due to weight and balance issues. Not to worry: an hour later - and a few kaliks (Bahamian beer) in at the lounge across from the terminal, my luggage arrived on the 12pm flight from Nassau.
After a wonderful 4 days in Exuma, it was time to say goodbye (yes, there are numerous other videos/pictures from my escapades, but I'll save those for another social networking site). We headed to the airport early because we had heard that some flights had been canceled. As it turned out, Western Air (one of Sky's competitors) suffered a few mechanical issues the day before, causing major headaches for the Nassuvians who were desperately trying to get back to Nassau for work the next day. Needless to say, GGT was a madhouse, but nevertheless, between Bahamasair, Western, American Eagle, and Sky checking people in, I got a pink boarding pass (seat assignments are only done in Nassau, apparently) within 5 minutes of entering the building, with the same friendly service as was received in Nassau despite the chaos in the small terminal. Remarkable!
Due to the size of the departure lounge in Exuma, Security only allowed passengers to enter for certain flights at a time in order to prevent crowding. American Eagle had a 12.40pm flight, and so got priority. I waited until signaled by the security personnel that I could enter the metal detector 'area', and waited patiently for my flight. My Saab rolled in at around 12.30pm (nearly empty, by the looks of it), and we were boarded promptly at 12.40pm. A relative of mine I was traveling with received a purple boarding pass (he had checked in later). As I left the building for my plane, I noticed C6-SBF rolling in and realized that those with purple passes must be boarding that aircraft.
-SBG in Exuma perfoming a relatively quick turn with engine number 2 idling and feathered:
During the flight, I spoke with the flight attendant (also a charming, friendly, and professional lady) and told her that we share the same profession. We chatted for a few minutes and she explained to me that normally they would offer a beverage service on this flight, but were unable to be catered in Nassau due to a short turnaround. I was surprised that a beverage service would even be offered on such a short flight...especially when, in the past, we were accustomed to absolutely nothing on you-know-you .
The Saab's upholstery seems pretty new and very comfortable. Legroom was nothing to turn your nose up at, either - and I wasn't even in an exit row!
-SBG, awaiting more clients for another quick hop to FPO:
All in all, it was a wonderful trip, both in the air and on the ground. I'm definitely looking forward to Exuma Regatta 2012, and I'm absolutely sure that Sky Bahamas (their IATA code is Q7, btw) will be my carrier of choice in future. Thanks for reading, and I hope you all enjoy!
P.S. - I have a (rather lengthy) video of the approach and landing into Nassau, but for some reason I'm having issues uploading it. If I can, I'll add that in a reply.
Widebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 492 posts, RR: 4 Reply 2, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 7438 times:
What a superb report! I was looking for TRs about the Exumas just the other day and I was disappointed not to find any. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
I was planning to have my honeymoon at the Exumas but at the end my wife and I decided to go to (the Bahamian) Long Island instead. Knowing no better we booked our flights from NAS to SML (Stella Marris) with UP but now, after having read so many horrible things about them, I am terrified as to what to expect. How worried should I be? Do they cancel flights often? (I have allowed a 4-hour layover in NAS to catch my flight back to ORD but I am now worried that it may not be enough).
Also our flights are meant to be operated by a Beechcraft but as far as I know UP doesn't have any aircraft of this kind. Do you happen to know whose aircrafts UP uses for inter-island routes like these?
In any case I am glad you had such a good time. Good to hear that the otherwise chaotic situation at GGT was handled so well.
Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
Hiya Widebodyroga! First of all, congratulations on your marriage! I've never been to Long Island myself, so I'm not quite sure what you should expect. However, I can almost guarantee that unless there's an event, you can look forward to seclusion, privacy, and a lot of fun (you can interpret that any which way you want) - along with awesome scenery as a backdrop. So I wouldn't feel too badly about booking Long Island instead of Exuma. My mother was born in Georgetown, so I'm a teensy bit biased , but keep in mind that during Regatta, half of Nassau descends upon Exuma like a plague (Exumans are happy for the revenue, but can't wait to see them leave LOL). So if peace and quiet is what you're looking for, don't go to Exuma during Regatta. Any other time, however, it's a definite plus!
As for UP, take my report with a grain of salt. I haven't flown on them in a reeeeally long time, and the last time I did, their flight attendants were quite friendly (that's about it, though). Indeed, my Sky Bahamas flight left 5 minutes early (almost an oxymoron when talking about Island life haha), compared to my mother's UP flight, which left Nassau 2hrs late. Not all of their flights are delayed or canceled, but it does tend to happen - perhaps more noticably because they don't have a DL-like operation. When you've got 5 Dash 8s and 2 737s, having one go tech can spell disaster - as Western Air found out on Sunday while one of their Saabs basked in the sunshine awaiting parts.
The Beechcraft in your itinerary is correct; UP does contract some of its flying to Pineapple Air, which has a fleet of Beech 1900C's and -D's. You may see those aircraft operating UP flights to less-populated destinations. Stella Maris is one; North Eleuthera (at certain times of the day) is another. The Dash 8s are primarily used on trunk routes (NAS-FPO/MHH/TCB/GGT/RSD/ZSA) and to supplement the 737 on flights to Florida. Other routes are served either infrequently or via codeshare (such as Pineapple). Either way, you should be fine with your layover in NAS between flights. Keep in mind that it's quite a hike between the domestic concourse and the new US departures terminal. I believe Nassau Airport Authority has instituted a shuttle bus service, but double-check just to be sure.
Other than that, I truly hope you and your wife (to be?) enjoy yourselves to the fullest in my homeland! Cheers, and once again, congratulations!
USXguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 844 posts, RR: 6 Reply 5, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 7085 times:
Oh how I miss Stella Maris.... simply amazing! The airport is very unique in SML - each airline has their own "building" or stand, if you can call it that. Bahamasair's presence in SML & Deadman's is minimal - Pineapple & Southern Air do most of the flying in & out of there; Gulfstream Air Charters & Locair do occasional (but regular) flights in there.
Not sure if you are staying at Cape Santa Maria or Stella Maris - but either way, you must rent a car and drive around the island and go exploring....
Widebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 492 posts, RR: 4 Reply 6, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 6779 times:
Quoting NASBWI (Reply 3): Other than that, I truly hope you and your wife (to be?) enjoy yourselves to the fullest in my homeland! Cheers, and once again, congratulations!
Thank you so much for the information and your kind words, NASBWI. My wife and I are really looking forward to see the Bahamas, but it's been difficult to find detailed information about flying into and out of SML, which combined with what we've been reading about UP, has made us a bit nervous.
And by the way, my apologies for having hijacked your thread with my own upcoming trip. I feel guilty for it's an extremely nice TR. Whatever other questions I may have I promise to send through a PM.
Quoting USXguy (Reply 5): Not sure if you are staying at Cape Santa Maria or Stella Maris - but either way, you must rent a car and drive around the island and go exploring....
We are staying at the Cape Santa Maria, and we are extremely excited about it. Since booking our honeymoon, I have been reading a lot about the Family Islands and 3 things have become very apparent to me: 1) Everyone loves Long Island and especially the beach at the Cape SM 2) Everyone recommends renting a car and 3) Everyone has something bad to say about UP. I hope our flights are operated by Pineapple Air. You don't get to fly with an airline with such a name everyday...
Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
NASBWI From Bahamas, joined Feb 2005, 1255 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 6770 times:
Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 6): And by the way, my apologies for having hijacked your thread with my own upcoming trip. I feel guilty for it's an extremely nice TR. Whatever other questions I may have I promise to send through a PM.
Hahaha no worries, widebody! I'm happy to have helped...if only a little. Don't be too scared about the "big, bad Bahamasair". You know what they say: "if you have time to spare, fly Bahamasair" - and you did just that, with your 4-hr layover scheduled lol. I'm kidding around, but you should be fine with your travel plans. Next time, though, give some of the private competitors a try; barring any mechanical issues, you won't be disappointed. Cheers!
NASBWI From Bahamas, joined Feb 2005, 1255 posts, RR: 0 Reply 9, posted (1 year 12 months 22 hours ago) and read 4939 times:
Quoting GGT242 (Reply 8): Great trip report, thanks for showcasing SkyBahamas(which i think is one of the best up and coming airlines in the Bahamas ) and most importantly Exuma which is such an underrated destination.
Thanks for your reply, GGT! I agree, Q7 is a cute little airline, and I wish them well. As for Exuma, I also agree that it's underrated. Then again, my mother was born there, so I may be just a little biased . But who can argue when you see water like that, eh? Cheers!