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A Special Turtle's Birthday:Cayman Airways 733/DH6  
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Posted (11 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 9432 times:



“Those who fly us, love us”

Not many airlines come out with such bold statements with which they promote themselves to the world. However, Cayman Airways - the flag carrier of the small British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, has never been afraid to be bold or colourful, and the airline’s iconic mascot, Sir Turtle, with his aviator’s flag and peg leg, has taken pride of place on their aircraft for decades.

Cayman Airways may not be a large airline, but bigger rarely means better, especially in the air transport business. Cayman currently have a small fleet of B737-300s. Cayman Airways Express, a sister company formed in 2003, links Grand Cayman with the smaller islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman and has two Twin Otters in its fleet.

BACKGROUND


Fulfilling an illogically silly 20 year dream of mine to fly with Sir Turtle, after watching John Grisham’s “The Firm” many years ago (which has scenes from Grand Cayman, including a close up departure of a Cayman Airways 737-200), I decided that as part of a planned trip to Florida to visit a fellow avia lover in Miami, I would route myself via the Caymans from London. Who wants to fly on a direct London – Miami nonstop like most normal people?

The decision was made all the easier because as many will know, British Airways fly to Grand Cayman, as an extension of their London – Nassau (NAS) route, using B767s. The flight is not daily though. I would fly to GCM via NAS, spend the night in Grand Cayman, before heading to Miami the following day on Cayman Airways.

After a week in Miami, I would fly back to Grand Cayman, but in true A.netter style, with a couple of stops. I booked myself on the seasonal flight from Miami directly to Cayman Brac and then a connecting flight to Grand Cayman via Little Cayman, with Cayman Airways Express. The Twin Otter ride would hopefully make up for missing the Air Labrador flights in Canada last September.

Here’s how the flights look on the map, thanks to gcmapper.



There are a couple of short introductory sections to put this into context, but this majority of this report will be divided into 3 parts:

Part One: Grand Cayman to Miami
Part Two: Miami to Cayman Brac
Part Three: Cayman Brac to Grand Cayman via Little Cayman with Cayman Airways Express

CAYMAN AIRWAYS - A SHORT HISTORY


Founded in 1968, Cayman Airways is a relative newcomer to the airline scene. It was formed following the Cayman Government’s purchase of 51% of Cayman Brac Airways from LACSA, the Costa Rican airline, and became wholly government owned in 1977, the fledging Caymanian carrier flew its first international route to Kingston, Jamaica. Gradually adding routes, mostly to the United States (and then dropping them again), Cayman Airways today flies to the US, Jamaica, Cuba and Honduras. There has been talk for some time about connecting Grand Cayman with Copa’s hub in Panama City and this is currently shown as a new seasonal route on the airline’s route map contained in the July 2013 edition of “Skies”, the airline’s inflight magazine.



I used to collect airline timetables and was able to dig out a timetable I purchased a few years ago, which set the scene for Cayman Airways back in 1979, just 11 years after starting operations when the BAC1-11 was the mainstay of the fleet. In fact, I think they only had one aircraft.

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And its routes were thin on the ground - Miami, Houston and Kingston only.



Miami is arguably the airline’s most important international route and has been since flights commenced there in 1972, using the LACSA leased BAC1-11. Back then, Cayman Airways had just 30 employees. Today, Miami is served multiple times a day with B737s. Historically, in addition to the 1-11s, MIA has seen KX DC-6s, DC-8s, B727s (ex Air Florida) and various B737 classics. Cayman Airways also leased a pair of brand new 737-400s in the early 90s, but these were short lived in Cayman service as I remember reading they were too big for the markets served so they were returned not long after.

This year, Cayman Airways turns 45 years old. A celebration not without fanfare, as illustrated by the cover of July’s edition of Skies.



Of course Cayman Airways and a certain Chelonia mydas or as he is more commonly known, green sea turtle, are completely intertwined. It would be sacrilege to talk about one without the other.

ENTER A PEG LEG FLYING TURTLE



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So who is this Turtle and does anyone care?

Well, I discovered that turtles have always been a large part of the Cayman Islands' history; from the spotting by Christopher Columbus in May 1503 and the naming of the islands “Las Tortugas” to a staple in the Caymanian diet even today. Not that turtle meat sounds overly appealing to me. I’d prefer a hunk of beef.

While turtles have come and gone, one has reached the iconic stature requiring the name of “Sir”. The unofficial national logo of the Caymans was created by Suzy Soto in 1963. She moved to the Caymans in the early 1960s with her family. It was sold to the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism for the princely sum of $1 in the early 1970s. You can see from the picture that Sir Turtle actually evolved over the years. Suzy was interviewed in the July celebratory edition of Skies.

A variation of the original logo includes the flying scarf and continues to be the proud logo of Cayman Airways today. He features on everything, from the aircraft themselves, to the staff uniforms, ground equipment and signage. You can’t go far without seeing him.

Sir Turtle is of course part of the airline’s celebrations – just for Ricardo who made a special request, here he is celebrating with staff in Grand Cayman captured in July’s edition of Skies.



2013 is also an especially auspicious year personally for Sir Turtle, as he turns 50 this year. To commemorate this lovable one legged rogue, the Cayman Islands is actually hosting a year long celebration to honour him on all three Cayman Islands. I can’t imagine any airline or company in Europe or indeed elsewhere going to so much trouble over a logo. But turning 50 is a big deal in anyone’s books, even if you are a turtle with a peg leg.

Happy Birthday to the little guy.



To finish this section, some turtle “fast facts”:




Eastern - Number One To The Sun
33 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 1, posted (11 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 9506 times:


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FLIGHT RESERVATIONS


Fast forward to the flights themselves, when booking with Cayman Airways, I made use of their excellent website which was easy to navigate and allowed me to choose seats on each sector, including on the Twin Otter flights. There was no charge for this service. Ticket prices were not bucket cheap, but then again these days, that’s not surprising given the current state of the industry globally and the costs of doing business in this industry. The flights in total were under US$300 but consisted of 4 flights including two with the Twin Otter.

In the 2 weeks leading up to my departure from the UK, there was a slight change in departure time for one of the flights, which thankfully had no impact for my onward connections. However, I received not one, but two reminder emails well before my departure date to advise me of the change so pretty good going in terms of keeping passengers informed.

Getting to Grand Cayman on British Airways will be the subject of a separate report. After our pleasant overnight stay, a short walk from Seven Mile Beach, we were enroute in an air conditioned taxi back to Owen Roberts International Airport. Like everyone we chatted to, the taxi driver was very laid back and friendly. She told us she had been to the UK once, to visit family and it rained for the whole 3 weeks she was there. We asked her where she was, and she exclaimed “Manchester” ! Well that figures.  

Owen Roberts was a pioneer of aviation in the Caymans. A former Royal Air Force commander, he helped to foster the growth of aviation in the Cayman Islands. He campaigned heavily for the building of airport infrastructure on the Caymans, including the airport in Grand Cayman. Tragically he was killed, at age 40, when the aircraft (a Lockheed Loadstar) he was on crashed on departure from Jamaica.

The airport is very compact and seems to just about handle the volume of traffic without it feeling overrun or chaotic. The current terminal structure was opened in 1984. Little known but Grand Cayman witnessed the arrival of a BA Concorde in the same year. Thankfully the terminal is air conditioned for those of us coming from Europe who are unaccustomed to heat and humidity (or in my case, forgotten what it was like). British Airways has the largest aircraft flying in on a regular basis (the B767) and I did not notice the terminal to be especially crowded when I flew home with BA a week later.

GCM sees flights from UA, AA, AC, US, WestJet and Delta in addition to it being Cayman Airways’ home base. It’s not an especially busy place, although there seemed to be waves of arrivals and departures throughout the day. At one point, all parking positions were occupied which meant about 6-7 aircraft on the ground at one time.

Some outdoor shots of the landside at GCM before going to check in –

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As we were there plenty early and more than 2 hours before departure, there was no queue in the check in area for our flight. Our check in was smooth, friendly and hassle free. Just how you want it to be. My bag was tagged to Miami and we were wished a pleasant flight. A positive first impression from Cayman Airways. Economy class passengers can check up to 2 pieces of baggage without charge.

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The best thing about this airport from an A.netter’s point of view is the open air landside viewing deck one level up from departures which affords some great views over the tarmac.

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Unfortunately the view is obstructed in part by poles and palm trees – but it’s still a great little place to spend some time. There is a restaurant cafe on the same level so you can go eat, and then when you hear something land, you stand up and see what it is before sitting back down again, Cayman Beer in hand. You do need to amble over to the edge of the deck if you want any pictures though but still avia bliss.

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It’s possible to get clear views of the landing aircraft - the competition from MIA.

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Flights to Miami and Atlanta being prepared.

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A hint of what’s to come (hopefully) a week later.

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No jetbridges at GCM – boarding requires a walk out to the ramp. How retro and exciting with the sounds of engines and smell of jet fuel.

I watched our aircraft arrive and taxi to its parking place on the ramp before making my way airside.

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And sistership, CKW, arrived shortly afterwards. This aircraft was operating the Havana service and due to depart around the same time as us.

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Seeing double!

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Sir Turtle gets everywhere here.

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Security was pain free and we were soon in the departures airside area. Not large, and quite busy with a number of duty free stores around the sides. Thankfully our flight to Miami was due to leave on time and once the boarding call was made, passengers slowly meandered outside to our waiting aircraft.



Some ramp views during boarding – nobody cared whether I was taking photos and I did not get yelled at.

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Why hello there Sir

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AIRCRAFT


Today, KX104 was operated by VP-CKY, a B737-3Q8, built in 1992. Unbeknown to me at the time, this aircraft spent a lot of its early life in the antipodes, operating for Polynesian Airlines, Ansett and Freedom Air International. I even have a picture of it taken in Melbourne in early 2000 when it was flying with PH (that’s Polynesian, not PlaneHunter). Cayman Airways acquired the aircraft in November 2003.

There was a friendly greeting from one of the female flight attendants at the door – smartly dressed in her dark red and blue uniform, with a Cayman Airways scarf, bearing, you guessed it – Sir Turtle. The Cayman Airways uniforms are very smart. I like them. This picture was taken from the airline’s website.



The aircraft looked in pretty good shape inside, despite its age. The first two rows of the aircraft have dedicated business class seats.

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The Cayman Islands’ Coat of Arms was placed on each bulkhead side at the back of the aircraft giving the aircraft a very “regal” touch. Of course, this is the design that features on all Cayman Airways (and Cayman Airways Express) aircraft tails. Frankly I’d preferred if they had kept Sir Turtle on the tail, but at least they’ve not removed him completely and he now takes pride of place at the front of the aircraft – his aviator’s scarf flying in the breeze.

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Our neighbour, getting ready to push for Havana.

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DEPARTURE


The flight was not full – by the time the front door was closed, the aircraft was pretty empty down the back and people were able to move around. I had a row of three seats to myself. I’d estimate the load was about 60% although that might be generous. It was a Sunday lunch time flight to give some indication of why that may have been the case for a light load.

There was a nice welcome from the cockpit with some flight details and the safety demonstration was completed via the ancient looking overhead monitors.

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Seat pitch was good - a knobbly knee shot.


Showing the unique design of the terminal at Owen Roberts International on push back.

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We passed the Cayman Airways hangar on the way to the runway with a 737 in for maintenance.

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It was a short taxi to the end of the runway, and without any delays or having to hold for any landing aircraft, we blasted off down the runway and lifted off, shattering the otherwise peaceful afternoon calmness, climbing rapidly over North Sound into the hazy but sultry skies and setting course for Miami.

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ROUTE AND IFE


The flight was scheduled for just over 1 hour, and would take us directly over Cuba, before heading over toward the Florida Keys, and then across the Everglades and into MIA from the West.

There was no IFE onboard during this short flight.

Seat pocket contents consisted of the June edition of Skies, with a feature article on Tampa, a city I am a big fan of.



And the safety card


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CREW


There were three flight attendants on board. Two middle aged ladies and a guy. All were friendly, although the ladies were more charming and more chatty to passengers.

FOOD AND DRINKS


No food was served (nor offered for purchase) on this flight. Non alcoholic drinks were free of charge as was Cayman Airways’ signature rum punch.

“Will you be joining us today for a rum punch, Sir?”
“Oh no, thank you, I couldn’t possibly... all that sugar will go straight to my hips”


Well that’s how it might have been for some trip reports, but I happily partook in Cayman Airways’ signature beverage. More punch than rum, it was however very refreshing, and served with warmth and a smile.

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Other drinks offered included cocktails, spirits, beers, wine and champagne were BOB and were priced between USD$4-6.

Once all passengers had been served, the crew came back up the aisle and proactively offered refills or “more punch”? Of course, it would be rude to say no.

At this point, there was little left to do other than enjoy the views of Cuba down below. The Americans onboard in front of me and across the aisle seemed fascinated by the fact they were flying directly over Cuba and it was probably the closest that they were likely to get to Cuba for the time being. I had a fantastic time there in 2010 and enjoyed my stay very much. The Cuban people we met were very friendly and welcoming. We crossed Cuba very quickly.

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To stretch my legs, I made a short bathroom visit to one of the aft loos to check out the lavatorial facilities. Everything was clean as it should be.


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Then over the Florida Keys, with some nice views outside for passengers on the other side of the plane. It looked like we had passed near to Key West, another destination on my bucket list.

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ARRIVAL INTO MIAMI


Shortly after passing the Keys, we started our descent into Miami, giving some lovely views of the Florida Everglades down below. It’s hard to believe that there is a major urban centre so close to all of this natural wonder.

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The final descent into MIA was a bit bumpy due the afternoon cloud build up, heat and overall humidity but there were some nice views of Miami, which just seems to appear out of the Everglades and keeps going and going as far as the eye can see.

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Slowing down

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Miami’s urban sprawl

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Passing the El Dorado Furniture store and unofficial viewing place just before touching down.

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We landed smoothly however onto Miami’s southerly runway rolling out and heading off to our Gate in the E-concourse.

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Passing some Germans and Brits on our way to the gate.

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It was a short but sweet flight with Cayman Airways – the flight attendants farewelled us we left the aircraft and we trotted toward MIA immigration, passing a young lass along the way who looked like she stepped right out of some Hispanic beauty pageant, wearing a dress that barely covered her butt and a pair of high heeled chunky espadrilles. She had a sash around her shoulder which had something in Spanish written on it which I could not read without staring at her chest and looking like a total perve.

One last view of our aircraft at the gate in Miami.

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Immigration, was of course, busy and slow moving and after nearly an hour in the line, we were stamped into the US. A couple of days later, when dabbling in a bit of plane spotting at MIA, who should coast past me.....? Here’s VP-CKY again landing on the same runway as we did.

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Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 2, posted (11 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 9482 times:



The return to Grand Cayman happened a week later.

MIA’s E-concourse is pretty uninspiring and depressing in my opinion. Thankfully check in was swift, with few other people hovering around the Cayman Airways check in counters. My bag was tagged through to Grand Cayman with a change of flight at Cayman Brac. Nothing else was said other than have a good flight. This is relevant to the discussions I subsequently had with the immigration authorities at Cayman Brac.

Note the priority line for Sir Turtle Club members!



OLCI is available but I did not make use of it for any of my flights because Cayman allow you to reserve seats at the time of booking. My chosen seats were assigned correctly on all sectors so no issues with seating.

Security was rather pain free on this quiet Saturday morning and I was soon airside. There were a few concessions including a small cafe where I managed to grab coffee and some breakfast.


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Taking my purchases over to a window, I spent an hour or so watching the movements outside. Miami is not the airport it was back in the mid 90s when I first visited – the sheer variety of types and airlines back then was amazing, as it was in the two decades or so before that. It all feels a little sterile these days – not a single DC8 or 707 to be spotted. However, there were still some nice avia subjects which I captured for my collection.


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First sighting of the Allegheny retrobird – Vistajets forever!



Nice to still see the last remaining AA 762s still flying.


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Pick the odd one out.



I was also well positioned to capture my Cayman Airways 737-300 which arrived on time from Grand Cayman. Registered VP-CKZ, this 737-36E was born in 1996 and started its life with Viva Air in Spain and more recently with BMI Baby as G-TOYL.

Something new and controversial in the background


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Our departure for Cayman Brac was scheduled to be on time.



The flight was not full – probably just under half was my estimation as I waited at the gate with the other passengers for the boarding calls to begin. From the look of it, and being a Saturday, we were all leisure travellers of varying ages. A flurry of activity from the ground agents, and after having seen the flight attendants board, I knew it would not be long before we’d be all set to start boarding.

CKZ at the gate - waiting to receive passengers.



Boarding took next to no time at all, and the aft part of the cabin was almost empty. I had a row of three seats to myself as well. We received a nice welcome from the cockpit crew with some flight and arrival information. I had a row of three seats to myself.


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Our neighbour was the recently arrived Interjet A320 from Mexico City. I really like their colour scheme.



We pushed back from E2 on time.



The safety demo was done manually on this bird by two of the three female flight attendants – in contrast to the inbound flight from GCM a week earlier where it was mostly automated and on screens.

One last farewell from the “new” American as we taxied out.



Taxi and take off were without any delays and we were soon rocketing down MIA’s RW08R.


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Before heading out east over Miami itself and out to sea.


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The service on board this flight was identical to the flight from Grand Cayman and the flight time is more or less then same as Cayman Brac is not that far away from Grand Cayman in any case.

I was feeling relaxed as I sipped my rum punch just before reaching the Cuban coastline and dutifully completed my Cayman Islands immigration and customs forms.


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Passing over Cuba again for the second time in a week.



Refills were again offered to those who were still thirsty.

Our descent and approach into Cayman Brac would take us right over and around Little Cayman. I had some great views of the smallest of the Caymans on my side of the aircraft as we made our final approach into CYB. Another new airport for me, so the landing was exciting. Originally named Gerrard-Smith International, the current terminal site was built in 1989.


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We floated onto the runway there and following a smooth touchdown, we circled back to taxi to the tiny terminal at Cayman Brac – which has since been renamed as the “Sir Captain Charles Kirkconnell International Airport”. This is the only airport on Cayman Brac (not that you’d expect there to be more than one in any case, given the size of the island). No other traffic on stand when we arrived.


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Those continuing on to Grand Cayman were asked to stay onboard during the short transit stop. Why didn’t I just stay on this aircraft and book the 737 all the way through? What fun would that have been, especially as Cayman Airways’ own website offered me the chance to de-board here, and get on a Twin Otter two hours later, with an intermediate stop in between?

A handful of passengers, I guessed around 20 left here, including me, and I thanked the smiling flight attendant at the door, before being blasted by the blinding bright light and heat of the tarmac outside. This time I had a chance to see Sir Turtle up close and very personal. Here he is, looking quite punk-like with a mohawk.



Saying goodbye to my mainline Cayman Airways flight at Cayman Brac. It was a super hot and sunny day.



Welcome to Cayman Brac



The smart modern looking terminal is very small, but functional and again, air conditioned. The small immigration area has two counters and both were occupied by Cayman Islands immigration officers. I was one of the last in the queue due to my obsessive picture taking while getting off the plane, but again, that was fine. No issues there from anyone on the ground.

IMMIGRATION FUN AND GAMES


This is where it got interesting. On my immigration card, I had filled in N/A to the question of “what hotel/residence are you staying in the Caymans?” This instantly seemed to arouse suspicion in the female officer tasked with processing my paperwork. In a nutshell, she wanted to know why I wasn’t staying anywhere and how I came to be in transit in the Caymans. She asked me why I had got off the aircraft which was just about to leave for Grand Cayman, because that’s where I was also going, and I had to explain that I was booked on a service two hours later with Cayman Airways Express, also going to Grand Cayman. That just made things worse.

Now thoroughly befuddled by my explanation, she then asked when intended to leave the Caymans, and I explained that I was booked to fly that evening on BA back to London. Any proof of that she said? Yes – here’s my e-boarding pass on my phone and PNR. She then writes all the details down and heads off to speak to her supervisor. I was now the last remaining passenger at immigration.

Thankfully the story ends well, and they accepted by explanation, which was indeed the truth. It also resulted in a rather strange new transit stamp in my passport.

I can only put it down to my weird itinerary – but this was put together by Cayman Airways themselves so if there was an issue with my flight arrangements, the flight offerings should never have been made. The other thing was that it’s probably unlikely that they get many people transiting through the Caymans to go to a third country, especially not from Cayman Brac! However, there was no problem and I stress that the immigration officer was unfailingly polite and friendly throughout the whole time and we had a little joke as she gave my passport back. I was very impressed.

I got through immigration, hard won stamp in hand, and out through customs, where I legged it outside before they decided to ask me any more questions.

I had time to watch my aircraft start up and taxi away for its departure to Grand Cayman.



Before finding a nice shady spot outside to enjoy the warmth of the day – my last Caribbean rays before heading back to London. This view allowed me to see the compact terminal in its completeness.



Wow the terminal must have been even smaller originally.



Cayman Brac has a number of attractions in its own right - I really wish I had more time to spend here. In this brochure you can see the location of the airport on the westerly side of the island.




Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 3, posted (11 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 9464 times:



After some reading and a light snack which I had bought in Miami, I headed inside the terminal to see if I could get rid of my suitcase and go airside. The check in area was dinky small and I sailed straight up to the counter to the friendly young lady. Cayman Airways’ older style branding – which looked early 90s to me, was behind her on the wall, with Sir Turtle’s beady eye looking out at everyone.



Older style branding – exhibit A



My bag was tagged to GCM along with my approved two pieces of hand luggage (rucksack and camera bag).

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5451/9455504237_695400ba29_o.jpg

And I took a seat while reading about some of the history of aviation in the Caymans on the informative wall displays nearby.



Cayman Airways Express operate short hops between the three islands. There is a page on Cayman Airways’ inflight magazine dedicated to the Express operation.



Security took disproportionately long because the girl in front of me – one of only a handful of passengers on my flight, had a whole bunch of liquid items which were well over the limit. She ended up having to go back to check in her bag. Meanwhile everyone else, ie me and the security staff, had to just stand there while she faffed around. Don’t worry honey, it’s not like you’re the only one at this airport today.

Once through security, I found myself in a tiny airside room which faced out to the ramp. There was a small cafe, toilets and a tiny little souvenir shack. Although it was fine for a Twin Otter sized load (of passengers), a full 737 would be much more of a squeeze.



The aircraft was originally due to leave on time, but then at our STD an announcement was made regretting that our flight had been delayed by 15 minutes with a new flight time of 1415. The delay was not a problem for me so I just relaxed and watched outside for any signs of a twin propeller aircraft arriving.

Not on time anymore...



Soon enough, it did. VP-CXB landed, and sauntered over to the ramp area and out of sight but at least the plane was here and there were no signs that the flight would be cancelled. Would this make up for the disappointment of Canada last September in Labrador? Fingers and toes crossed, I was excited to hear the first boarding call, and the 7 or so people in the room all started making their way outside.

So what of the history of this route and aircraft types which pre-date the Twin Otter? In 1980 Cayman Airways started operating a BN Trislander for inter island flights. This was replaced by a Shorts 330 in 1987. The Twin Otters started operating under the Cayman Airways Express banner in 2003. Does anyone know what aircraft were being used during the 1990s?



Up close and personal with VP-CXB.



At this point, and while I was walking to the aircraft, the starboard prop had been fired up (presumably to keep the cabin cool). I was the last to board and the rear door was folded up and shut with a thud. Although I had a seat allocated, I discovered there were no seat numbers so people had just sat wherever they wanted. So much for seat allocation on this flight. Thankfully the aircraft was not full otherwise there was a risk I could have ended up with an aisle seat. And I would not have been happy. I grabbed the last two seater “bench” about mid way in the cabin, which gave views of the prop and wing.



Fired up and ready to go, a short safety demonstration was completed by the first officer, with reference to the safety card. I took the opportunity to peruse the safety card at the same time.


.

.


Departure was from the same direction we landed, and as most people know, the Twin Otter only needs a tiny amount of runway to get off the ground. The sound on take off and the sudden lift off was fantastic. We clawed our way into the warm afternoon sky and set course for Little Cayman (LYB), a short 10 minutes or so away.


.

.


The views outside were needless to say, fantastic.


.


Our little Otter trundled through the sky – pretty smooth flying as well with just a few bumps. Allrite perhaps would have freaked out with a couple of the bumps but it was nothing to worry about really. It seemed like I wasn’t the only one taking pictures either.



The interior of the aircraft was immaculate. Dark blue seats in a 1 – 2 configuration. Seat pitch was surprisingly good. The floor was spotless and the Cayman Islands’ Coat of Arms was also included on the front bulkhead, just like on the mainline 737s.

A change in the sound of the props heralded our short flight to Little Cayman was coming to an end. We flew over the Little Cayman itself before looping back around, before dropping down onto the 3,000 ft runway.


.

.


Most of the passengers left us in LYB and the starboard prop remained turning during the short transit stop here, which is named the Edward Boddin Airfield. Passengers continuing to Grand Cayman were asked to remain onboard.


.
ONWARD TO GRAND CAYMAN


We were left with 4 passengers for the last and slightly longer hop across to Grand Cayman.



How the cockpit crew keep cool on a hot day.



And for us passengers.



Good bye Little Cayman



No word from the cockpit crew on this sector as we’d all originated from Cayman Brac, and no new safety demo either before departure. Take off was brisk and quick and we had some equally amazing views while climbing out.


.

.


Almost 15 minutes later, land was spotted in the distance, which revealed itself to be the eastern portion of Grand Cayman. I had moved over to the other side of the aircraft for a time for a different perspective and to get a peek at this part of Grand Cayman.


.

.


The view from the other side of the cabin.



Flying at this height meant we had some nice views of the island as we effectively flew to the north of it and then made some left turns out at sea, before making our approach into GCM from the west. This would mean dropping in over Georgetown itself and from the aircraft, there were some great views of the town on our final approach. Not surprisingly you can see how built up Georgetown is compared to the rest of the island. A few little bumps as we got lower but nothing overly rough. We flew downwind of GCM itself, so you get some idea of the layout and terminal area. A couple of aircraft on the ground too at that time – An Air Canada E190, a Cayman 737 and the other Twin Otter, CXA were there.


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This followed a smooth touchdown on the single runway at GCM and a short taxi to our parking position at the end of the ramp. The Twin Otter does not need much runway to stop at all. It was a strange sensation slowing so quickly. I thanked the cockpit crew and was last out of the aircraft. Just enough time to take a couple of pictures of VP-CXB on the ramp, earning a well deserved rest after its afternoon island hop.



Hope my bag was in there?


.

.


The other aircraft on the ramp at that time, now lit up by the mid afternoon sun. I found out later that the Air Canada E190 had gone tech.



I arrived back into a deserted but otherwise colourful baggage claim area and my bag was available for collection a couple of minutes later. At least I knew I was not going to get yelled at for taking these pictures.


.

.


Of course, there was nobody to welcome me back to Grand Cayman, other than this feathered friend – who was roaming outside the terminal building looking for snacks. You wouldn’t get that at Heathrow.


.
FLYING WITH CAYMAN AIRWAYS


Each of my flights with Cayman Airways left me with a positive experience. Staff were pleasant, genuine and friendly, the aircraft were in good shape and the rum punches on the Miami flights made for a special treat. Service and offerings were not elaborate, but I only took very short flights. While they have had their ups and downs financially over the past 45 years, keeping small and steady seems to be the way for longer term viability, unlike the airline of their larger neighbour to the east in Jamaica. I can’t see them joining any alliance any time soon – but do they need to? I see that some flights are already code shared with AA in any case. Perhaps that’s all they need. I’d be interested to see how different, if at all, the JFK or ORD flights are. If I had the choice again between flying between Miami and Grand Cayman, there is no question of which airline I’d be booking with.

Flying the Twin Otter again was great fun especially after missing Air Labrador last year due to weather. It’s clear that this small Express operation provides a vital and regular link between the three Cayman Islands, making it easy for locals and tourists alike to explore everything the Caymans has to offer.

A 20 year dream came true and I was happy to have ticked off another flight and airline on my aviation bucket list.

Good luck to Cayman Airways for the next 45 years and to Sir Turtle. “Those who fly us, love us.” Did I love you Cayman Airways? Yes!

Thanks for reading, and comments are very welcome.

A selection of other reports -

The Canton Route To Australia: China Southern In J (by palmjet Apr 14 2013 in Trip Reports)
Fokker And Dash Lovin' Down Under: Alliance And QF (by palmjet Apr 13 2013 in Trip Reports)
Saying Goodbye To Hochelaga: YUL-LHR With AC (by palmjet Jan 19 2013 in Trip Reports)
Ya D'ar Brezhoneg, Yes To Brittany: To UIP With BA (by palmjet Jul 14 2012 in Trip Reports)
Fevered Booking? To Aus With Qantas A380 In F/J (by palmjet Jun 16 2012 in Trip Reports)
A Shiny City Debut: Alitalia's New E-Jet To Milan (by palmjet Jun 12 2012 in Trip Reports)
Going Retro, Chasing The Sun: BA B763 To Cyprus (by palmjet May 21 2012 in Trip Reports)
1 Long Day, 3 Short Virgins: Virgin's New ATR72 (by palmjet Feb 9 2012 in Trip Reports)
The Reindeer Route To Australia In J (by palmjet Dec 15 2011 in Trip Reports)
Flying An Old Lady: Aer Arann To London City (by Palmjet Jul 2 2011 in Trip Reports)
Arctic "Dash" With Wideroe: 2 Days, 7 Stops (pics (by Palmjet Jun 22 2011 in Trip Reports)
"888": 8hrs, 8 Segments On An Aussie Dash 8 (pics) (by Palmjet Apr 3 2011 in Trip Reports)
Keep Climbing & Don't Stop - 48hr DL Marathon (by Palmjet Dec 15 2010 in Trip Reports)
Snow-2-Sun: BA J To Tampa And Beyond (pics) (by Palmjet Dec 22 2010 in Trip Reports)
Iceland Yes, Volcano No, FI451 LHR-KEF (pics) (by Palmjet Oct 9 2010 in Trip Reports)
Ballina Boomerang: Coastal Flying With REX (pics) (by Palmjet Apr 10 2011 in Trip Reports)
Almost AF ATR72: Skyteam Skip LHR-TLS (w/pics) (by Palmjet Nov 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
The Return: KL E190 TLS-AMS (w/pics) (by Palmjet Nov 28 2010 in Trip Reports)
Baby 737 To Dresden And Back - W/pics (by Palmjet Sep 4 2010 in Trip Reports)
Short Haul Austrian 738(w) VIE-LHR W/pics (by Palmjet Sep 3 2010 in Trip Reports)
Cayo Coco - Havana, Aero Caribbean W/pics (by Palmjet Jul 16 2010 in Trip Reports)



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineairjamaica From Jamaica, joined Aug 2006, 2511 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 8696 times:

Great TR...............

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
GCM sees flights from UA, AA, AC, US, WestJet and Delta in addition to it being Cayman Airways’ home base.

And also B6 from both BOS and JFK.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Pick the odd one out.

Odd indeed !! I still can't believe AA replaced their signature iconic tail livery with " that " . Boring to say the least. But that is just my opinion.


Quoting palmjet (Reply 2):
Something new and controversial in the background

Such a disappointment.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Of course, there was nobody to welcome me back to Grand Cayman, other than this feathered friend – who was roaming outside the terminal building looking for snacks.

Lol....Never seen one at either of our international airports, but I have seen cats and dogs.


Again good Trip Report on KX.



greenheart
User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26844 posts, RR: 58
Reply 5, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 8650 times:

Great report  

Love reports from this region. The airports looked cool too. I always liked the livery of Cayman Airways. I was a bit disapointed when they removed Sir Turtle from the tail but at least they still kept it in the wider livery.  

Glad you had a good trip. I love the Interjet livery also .

Regards

Philip  


User currently offlineCaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 684 posts, RR: 21
Reply 6, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 8499 times:

Hello PJ, what a great report.

Actually I must admit that I have never heard about Cayman Airways. The islands are only known to me as a tax paradise, but I don't know anymore about it, a shame obviously. I really like their colorful tails, and you just got to love Sir Turtle  

Nice service on board and cool to get some rum punch on their flights. And the rides on the Twin Otter were for sure exciting.

CaptainRed


User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 7, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 8476 times:

Dear Palmjet,

I'm really excited that your Cayman report is out. I was really looking forward to it and I'm glad you decided to post it ahead of the BA TATL segments. I've always been curious about the Caymans and about their airline. And what a treat you have provided us with here: Both an international segment on one of their 737s and some domestic hops on the Otter. Not to mention that you got to visit C.Brac and L. Cayman. I'm so jealous!

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
However, I received not one, but two reminder emails well before my departure date to advise me of the change so pretty good going in terms of keeping passengers informed.

Certain US carriers could learn from that. Instead of "bothering" you with e-mails they just assume you'll find out about timetable changes by yourself.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Some ramp views during boarding – nobody cared whether I was taking photos and I did not get yelled at.

Amen! Some sensible people for once. I'm glad to hear that the Caymanians are chilled like that. More Caribbeans should be like that too. I was somewhat surprised when I got yelled for taking photos on SKB's apron.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
The Cayman Islands’ Coat of Arms was placed on each bulkhead side at the back of the aircraft giving the aircraft a very “regal” touch. Of course, this is the design that features on all Cayman Airways (and Cayman Airways Express) aircraft tails.

How beautiful! I especially like how it looked on the interior of the Otter. How classy!

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Frankly I’d preferred if they had kept Sir Turtle on the tail,

No, no, no. We'll have to disagree on this one . While iconic and a link to the airline's past, sir Turtle is...how should I put this?... ugly as hell? I love the coat of arms on the tail. Much more elegant. A book I was reading last month described Sir Turtle as one of the ugliest logos in the industry. I could only agree. The reason I like Cayman Airways' livery better on the Otter than the 737 is that in the Twin Otter the turtle is considerably smaller.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Non alcoholic drinks were free of charge as was Cayman Airways’ signature rum punch.

As I said many times before, this should become compulsory on ALL flights to and from the Caribbean, regardless of carrier!

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
MIA’s E-concourse is pretty uninspiring and depressing in my opinion.

I think I remember that area at MIA. Yeah, pretty dull.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
However, there was no problem and I stress that the immigration officer was unfailingly polite and friendly throughout the whole time and we had a little joke as she gave my passport back. I was very impressed.

How nice! Some baseline politeness can make all the difference. I wish it was like that everywhere.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Although I had a seat allocated, I discovered there were no seat numbers so people had just sat wherever they wanted. So much for seat allocation on this flight.

I find that in small aircraft like that (Twotters, Beechcrafts and Cessnas for example) seat allocation is never observed. Kinda silly that they assign seats in the first place though.

Thank you so much for this lovely report. Loved all the photos from around the Caymans. When I saw that you posted this I dropped everything I was doing and savored every single detail. Thanks!

Stojan



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1327 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 8457 times:

This is such a great report! Loved it! Don't be bothered by the immigration questioning, all went fine and in all honesty it requires a bit of an overzealous officer and a few factors which makes a bit suspicion and may want to ask a supevisor for a second opinion, but as you said since you did nothing illegal and said the thruth, all was fine.

I loved the twin otter flights and the coat of arms on the bulkhead even on that fligjt. Such little aiports are just great, like the chicken walking around. I remember being lost in Bucaramanga Columbia with sleeping dogs in front of the airport or Jambi in Sumatra/Indonesia where cats strayed over the apron   Such a change from busy airport terminals.

By the way Miami E terminal looks really depressing  


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3200 posts, RR: 12
Reply 9, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 8408 times:

Very nice report Palmjet! Very nice of you to finally fly with Sir Turtle after all these years! Great too that you got a trip on the Twin Otter. Looking forward to your BA flight report.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
But turning 50 is a big deal in anyone’s books, even if you are a turtle with a peg leg.
Happy Birthday to the little guy.

Happy Birthday indeed!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
The Cayman Islands’ Coat of Arms was placed on each bulkhead side at the back of the aircraft giving the aircraft a very “regal” touch. Of course, this is the design that features on all Cayman Airways (and Cayman Airways Express) aircraft tails.

TBH, I quite like the Coat of Arms, and i'm sorry to say, not such a fan of the old terrapin.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):

“Will you be joining us today for a rum punch, Sir?”
“Oh no, thank you, I couldn’t possibly... all that sugar will go straight to my hips”

Ha, nice to see you imbibing some of the local treats!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
At least I knew I was not going to get yelled at for taking these pictures.

Ha, but did it say it was ok to take a photo of the sign?!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-GVA-LHR-TXL-LHR-VE-PRN,SPU-OSL-LHR, LGW-DXB-BKK-DXB-LHR
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1739 posts, RR: 39
Reply 10, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 8278 times:

Thanks for a great in depth read on an airline that is rarely ever mentioned on this board. Having lived in Florida for a number of years, I always used to see their 737's with "Sir Turtle" all the time but never gave them much thought. Maybe I need to add the airline and the island to my list.

User currently offline817Dreamliiner From Montserrat, joined Jul 2008, 2181 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 8173 times:

Hi Palmjet

Was waiting for this report and glad you posted it. I really enjoyed reading

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Some outdoor shots of the landside at GCM before going to check in

Hasn't changed much since that last time I was there  
Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
The best thing about this airport from an A.netter’s point of view is the open air landside viewing deck one level up from departures which affords some great views over the tarmac.

Im glad its still there, Unlike the trend to close them at some airports...

Great report again, loved every moment of it.

Quoting airjamaica (Reply 4):
Odd indeed !! I still can't believe AA replaced their signature iconic tail livery with " that " . Boring to say the least. But that is just my opinion.

Honestly I dont see why some cant like it. The thing you refer to as "that" is the the American Flag (its pretty obvious isnt it?). Its called American Airlines, so the tail being the American flag makes sense. But as you say, your opinion...

Quoting airjamaica (Reply 4):
Such a disappointment.

Get over it... You should be happy that its not another White livery...



Reality be Rent. Synapse, break! Vanishment, This World!
User currently offlineglobalflyer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 924 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 8037 times:

Hi James. What an awesome and unique TR. I used to work in the Caymans in the early 1990s and loved it. Such a sleepy little place. KX has always been a fun little carrier. The Twin Otter flight looked fantastic. And you have to love the rum punch too. Southern/Republic/Northwest also used to do this on their MIA run.


Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
User currently offlineBatonOps From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 746 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 8019 times:

Great TR. Thanks for the posting.

It was nice to see the Twin Otter in a report.


User currently offlinecrablin From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2011, 16 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 7962 times:
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Fabulous read, great pictures. Thanks so much palmjet!

User currently offlineTPAfan From United States of America, joined Apr 2013, 160 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 7614 times:

I was actually curious about KX, because I know they serve TPA, and I have seen them a few times. It was a fantastic TR!! Great job. Now I feel like I know a little more about their product and history. Very detailed.

User currently offlineairjamaica From Jamaica, joined Aug 2006, 2511 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 7602 times:

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
2013 is also an especially auspicious year personally for Sir Turtle, as he turns 50 this year.
Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 7):
While iconic and a link to the airline's past, sir Turtle is...how should I put this?... ugly as hell? I love the coat of arms on the tail. Much more elegant.

I don't mind '' Sir Turtle '' on KX generally but I do agree that the coat of arms look much better on the tail. Happy they didn't do away with the turtle all together though. Prefer it on the fuselage. Guess I have gotten accustomed to seeing it on KX over the years at KIN and subsequently at MBJ. Small carrier, but one of my favorites where livery is concerned.

Quoting 817Dreamliiner (Reply 11):
The thing you refer to as "that" is the the American Flag (its pretty obvious isnt it?).

Really ? I thought it was a Zambian flag.   Of course it is a depiction of the American flag. Everyone is quite cognizant of that. The ' that ' I was referring to was the over all concept of the tail design, not re the flag per say. They could have been a little more creative I think, but again, it is just my opinion. Some people like it, some don't.

Quoting 817Dreamliiner (Reply 11):
Get over it...

Not loosing any sleep over it. My apologies if you got that impression. Lol. Just a simple personal comment on their new tail design. Nothing more nothing less.

Quoting 817Dreamliiner (Reply 11):
You should be happy that its not another White livery...

That is the norm nowadays for many carriers. Billboard titles and plain fuselage. Gotten quite used to that now and I am sure many others have as well. The new AA isn't much different actually, apart from the silver/gray like coating as opposed to white.



greenheart
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2001 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 7600 times:

Yay, you got your Twin Otter and some wonderful tropical scenery to go with it. I wonder if those seat covers in the 737 have been changed at all during its history? They look so serious compared with the colourful exterior.

I'd be prepared to give the Cayman Islands the Paralympics on the basis of their ready made mascot. You couldn't buy a Sir Turtle soft toy to take home with you as a souvenir?

Quoting palmjet (Reply 3):
Allrite perhaps would have freaked out with a couple of the bumps but it was nothing to worry about really.

Hey, I survived my last flight, bumps and all. But as usual, I prefer you to take the shakes on my behalf while I enjoy your trip reports on stable ground.   Look forward to reading about the flight across.



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1158 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 7520 times:

I flew on Cayman Airways from Miami in 1982. I still remember the great Rum Punch. And the pirate.

User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 19, posted (11 months 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 7392 times:

Hi all, thanks for your comments

Quote:
And also B6 from both BOS and JFK.


Whoops - sorry, yes, I forgot B6 as well.

Yes, appreciate the new AA is not for everyone. Personally I am not that opposed to the change, and in the flesh, I quite like it.  

Nothing like being greeted by a cock at arrivals !

Hi Philip

Thanks for your comments. Me too, I've always loved the livery and yes, I don' t think there is any risk of Sir Turtle being removed from the logo any time soon. I loved the 732s in their colours of the mid 90s - so classy.

Hey CR

Thanks! Yes, the Caymans are pretty quiet but still a well known offshore banking and tax centre. I was reading about all the changes being made by the government to tighten anti money laundering controls and improve transparency across the industries, which I thought was interesting. Not surprisingly the standard of living in the Caymans seems quite high generally.

The rum punch was a nice change from the usual Coke or 7Up offerings for sure!

Hi WBR

Quote:
I'm really excited that your Cayman report is out. I was really looking forward to it and I'm glad you decided to post it ahead of the BA TATL segments. I've always been curious about the Caymans and about their airline. And what a treat you have provided us with here: Both an international segment on one of their 737s and some domestic hops on the Otter. Not to mention that you got to visit C.Brac and L. Cayman. I'm so jealous!

You know I could not resist another prop flight somewhere. Like you, I had always been curious about this small airline in this part of the world. Caribbean airlines seem to come and go, so they've done pretty well to get survive for the past 45 years.

Quote:
Amen! Some sensible people for once. I'm glad to hear that the Caymanians are chilled like that. More Caribbeans should be like that too. I was somewhat surprised when I got yelled for taking photos on SKB's apron.

Yes, they were so chilled about it both times at GCM and at CYB as well. No issues at all. I'd forgotten about your little run in at SKB. Ugh. So unnecessary.

Quote:
How beautiful! I especially like how it looked on the interior of the Otter. How classy!

I certainly wasn't expecting the inside of the Otter to be quite so pristine. It was great.

Quote:
No, no, no. We'll have to disagree on this one . While iconic and a link to the airline's past, sir Turtle is...how should I put this?... ugly as hell? I love the coat of arms on the tail. Much more elegant. A book I was reading last month described Sir Turtle as one of the ugliest logos in the industry. I could only agree. The reason I like Cayman Airways' livery better on the Otter than the 737 is that in the Twin Otter the turtle is considerably smaller.

Wash your mouth out mister !!! He's adorable. Who would write such a terrible thing about the little fella? He's got character and style. I am in shock.

Quote:
As I said many times before, this should become compulsory on ALL flights to and from the Caribbean, regardless of carrier!

My sentiments entirely. I doubt AA was serving rum punch on its 737 flights to MIA....

Quote:
How nice! Some baseline politeness can make all the difference. I wish it was like that everywhere.

Me too - simple things!

Quote:
I find that in small aircraft like that (Twotters, Beechcrafts and Cessnas for example) seat allocation is never observed. Kinda silly that they assign seats in the first place though.

Totally nuts! I guess the system may require it when you book so its just a dummy seat allocation.

Quote:
Thank you so much for this lovely report. Loved all the photos from around the Caymans. When I saw that you posted this I dropped everything I was doing and savored every single detail. Thanks!

Likewise - I've done the same thing on your US summer series.... ! Thanks for your comments.

Reifel - thanks very much for your comments.

Quote:
This is such a great report! Loved it! Don't be bothered by the immigration questioning, all went fine and in all honesty it requires a bit of an overzealous officer and a few factors which makes a bit suspicion and may want to ask a supevisor for a second opinion, but as you said since you did nothing illegal and said the thruth, all was fine.

I loved the twin otter flights and the coat of arms on the bulkhead even on that fligjt. Such little aiports are just great, like the chicken walking around. I remember being lost in Bucaramanga Columbia with sleeping dogs in front of the airport or Jambi in Sumatra/Indonesia where cats strayed over the apron Such a change from busy airport terminals.

By the way Miami E terminal looks really depressing

Yes, it was all fine in the end and I had nothing to hide and was telling the truth. Little airports are my favourite. The smaller the better. I don't get over-awed by big airports these days, although at one time, I loved seeing all the big hubs in Europe - Heathrow, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam etc, but these days, they are all very "meh".

Terminal E was indeed... uninspiring !

Hi Gab - thanks for your comments. BA report coming soon!

Quote:
'TBH, I quite like the Coat of Arms, and i'm sorry to say, not such a fan of the old terrapin.

Not you as well ? You and WBR both need to wash your mouths out...!

Quote:
Ha, nice to see you imbibing some of the local treats!

It would have been rude not to.

Quote:
Ha, but did it say it was ok to take a photo of the sign?!

I assume yes !   thanks again

Hi SR 103

Quote:
Thanks for a great in depth read on an airline that is rarely ever mentioned on this board. Having lived in Florida for a number of years, I always used to see their 737's with "Sir Turtle" all the time but never gave them much thought. Maybe I need to add the airline and the island to my list.

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the report. Sir Turtle has been a common feature in Florida - it seems to be his second home. Hope you get to try them out one day!

Hey 817Dreamliner

Pleased you liked the report. Thanks for leaving a comment.

Yes, the deck at GCM looks like it's going to be there for a while. No security or anything - people are pretty much left to their own devices.

Hi William

Quote:
Hi James. What an awesome and unique TR. I used to work in the Caymans in the early 1990s and loved it. Such a sleepy little place. KX has always been a fun little carrier. The Twin Otter flight looked fantastic. And you have to love the rum punch too. Southern/Republic/Northwest also used to do this on their MIA run.

Thanks for your comments too. Wow, you've certainly got around. Would love to hear about your working time in the Caymans. The Twin Otter was great fun - and a stop in Little Cayman for added experience! I remember seeing a picture of the inaugural Southern flight into Grand Cayman in the late 70s - I think it was just before they merged to become Republic. Grand Cayman back then looked even more tiny. I know Republic and then Northwest continued to operate the MIA - GCM flight for some time. Great memories I am sure.

Hey allrite

Quote:
Yay, you got your Twin Otter and some wonderful tropical scenery to go with it. I wonder if those seat covers in the 737 have been changed at all during its history? They look so serious compared with the colourful exterior.

I'd be prepared to give the Cayman Islands the Paralympics on the basis of their ready made mascot. You couldn't buy a Sir Turtle soft toy to take home with you as a souvenir?

Thanks for your comments. Ha - the planes were actually in very good shape, even if the seat covers looked quite sedate! No sales of Sir Turtle that I could find. They did have an onboard catalogue with a small range of items but these had to be ordered online and they weren't carried on the MIA flights.

Quote:
Hey, I survived my last flight, bumps and all. But as usual, I prefer you to take the shakes on my behalf while I enjoy your trip reports on stable ground. Look forward to reading about the flight across.

It was funny - as I got settled in the Otter, I thought of you and the impending doom if the flight was rough and bumpy. I don't mind a few bumps.. !

Thanks everyone else for your comments too.



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlinedivemaster08 From Cayman Islands, joined Jul 2008, 330 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (11 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 7350 times:

As a Local, all I can say is thank you for this amazing report! So glad that you enjoyed the hospitality of our islands and airline!

Having flown CAY123 a few times (but staying on to GCM), its always a fun landing in the brac as the runway is right at the coastline! from a PAX point of view, you get kinda a thrill not seeing land until the 6010ft runway starts!

Also after seeing your Twin Otter fun, and haven't flown on them since 1998 (or properly visted Little/Brac since then also!) I feel I need to make an effort now to spend a few days back over there.

GCM viewing platform will always be open in that terminal, however when they finally decided to build the new terminal, I am afraid that the designs look to remove a viewing platform which is a huge disappointment. Maybe someone there will realise what fun it is to have one still and create it again, but I think the new designs will not accommodate it.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
The Twin Otters started operating under the Cayman Airways Express banner in 2003. Does anyone know what aircraft were being used during the 1990s?

I can help you out here. There was a short time when KX didnt have any service to Little Cayman, all flights were operated by a locally owned company called Island Air (is now just a FBO and does not have any aircraft anymore). Island Air operated Twin Otters also along with the odd Piper Navajo service also to the sister islands. KX flew the B737s to Cayman Brac still. Island Air ceased operations when KX Express came back onto the scene (many of the KX pilots started there careers with Island Air!)

Back in the day of Cayman Brac Airways, and for a long time, the DC-3 flew the Brac route! Flew that quite a few times in my young years!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Of course, there was nobody to welcome me back to Grand Cayman, other than this feathered friend

Surprised his buddy the Green Iguana wasnt around to welcome you back! The Green Iguana isn't indigenous but they seem to of been brought over from Honduras and have spread like wildfire! There is regularly reports of a few that use the runway for their sun bathing!

So glad that you enjoyed your stay here (albeit a short one!) and really glad to see you enjoyed the National Airline! Please dont hesitate to call on them again for your travel needs!



My dream, is to fly, over the rainbow, so high!
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 21, posted (11 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 7309 times:

Divemaster08

Thanks so much for your comments. I know there are a few Caymanian readers on here so was hoping someone would see the report and be able to fill in a few gaps.

Quote:
As a Local, all I can say is thank you for this amazing report! So glad that you enjoyed the hospitality of our islands and airline!

Having flown CAY123 a few times (but staying on to GCM), its always a fun landing in the brac as the runway is right at the coastline! from a PAX point of view, you get kinda a thrill not seeing land until the 6010ft runway starts!

I loved what I saw and would have no hesitation in coming back - I am already planning an extended break to Cayman Brac as we speak  

That arrival was spectacular. I wasn't expecting to see much of Little Cayman on the way down but happened to be on the correct side of the aircraft. I did think we were going to land in the sea as we got closer!

Quote:
Also after seeing your Twin Otter fun, and haven't flown on them since 1998 (or properly visted Little/Brac since then also!) I feel I need to make an effort now to spend a few days back over there.

A lot of fun - the highlight of my trip. It's only the 3rd Twin Otter flight I've done so still quite a novelty on board. I'd also love to spend some time on Little Cayman as well. It looked so peaceful and relaxing. A perfect escape from the crazy chaos of London.

Quote:
GCM viewing platform will always be open in that terminal, however when they finally decided to build the new terminal, I am afraid that the designs look to remove a viewing platform which is a huge disappointment. Maybe someone there will realise what fun it is to have one still and create it again, but I think the new designs will not accommodate it.

Nooooo ! that would be a terrible shame.

Quote:
I can help you out here. There was a short time when KX didnt have any service to Little Cayman, all flights were operated by a locally owned company called Island Air (is now just a FBO and does not have any aircraft anymore). Island Air operated Twin Otters also along with the odd Piper Navajo service also to the sister islands. KX flew the B737s to Cayman Brac still. Island Air ceased operations when KX Express came back onto the scene (many of the KX pilots started there careers with Island Air!)

Thanks for that. I saw some pics of a Cayman BAe748 back in the late 70s and onwards which was used for some regional flying as well? I might have been hallucinating, but I thought I read that the aircraft was sometimes used on the Miami-Cayman Brac route (which was also seasonal)?

Quote:
Surprised his buddy the Green Iguana wasnt around to welcome you back! The Green Iguana isn't indigenous but they seem to of been brought over from Honduras and have spread like wildfire! There is regularly reports of a few that use the runway for their sun bathing!

No iguanas spotted - I am glad there were none on the runway when we arrived and departed !!

Thanks again.

So glad that you enjoyed your stay here (albeit a short one!) and really glad to see you enjoyed the National Airline! Please dont hesitate to call on them again for your travel needs![/quote]



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineSultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1652 posts, RR: 30
Reply 22, posted (11 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 7267 times:
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Hello palmjet,

Wonderful report my friend! You obviously did quite a bit of research as shown throughout the report. I’m glad I’ve been made aware of the existence of this nice exotic carrier! And Cayman Airways really look like a breath of fresh air compared to the ‘mainstream’ airlines.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Flights to Miami and Atlanta being prepared.

Ha ha I love the way the path is set out with those little orange cones.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
A hint of what’s to come (hopefully) a week later.

Such a sweet machine with a super nice tail design.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
and after nearly an hour in the line

An hour? What a awfully long time for immigration.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Vistajets forever!

I’m with you on this one!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I was very impressed.

I’m glad the whole process was dealt with in a professional end friendly way. As long as you got a solid case and people are courteous, I have no problem whatsoever being interrogated in a situation like this.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
At least I knew I was not going to get yelled at for taking these pictures.

Lol, the sign says explicitly that ‘photgraphing the murals is allowed’!

Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlineRyanairGuru From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 5175 posts, RR: 4
Reply 23, posted (11 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 7266 times:

Hi Palmjet

Another fantastic trip report, I enjoyed every minute of it

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
British Airways fly to Grand Cayman, as an extension of their London-Nassau (NAS) route, using B767s. The flight is not daily though. I would fly to GCM via NAS, spend the night in Grand Cayman, before heading to Miami the following day on Cayman Airways.

After a week in Miami, I would fly back to Grand Cayman, but in true A.netter style, with a couple of stops

I would have expected no less! LHR-MIA, pfff, for fools  
Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Christopher Columbus in May 1503 and the naming of the islands Las Tortugas

So the Caymen Islands were Las Tortugas! I never knew that, and just 2 days ago I discovered that Hispaniola was Haiti/Dominican Republic. I really need to brush up on my Columbian Caribbean history

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I'd prefer a hunk of beef

you can take a man out of Queensland........

  

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
The flights in total were under US$300 but consisted of 4 flights including two with the Twin Otter.

That's a pretty decent price, considering what you get for it!

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
knobbly knee shot

Allrite would be jealous  
Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
more punch? Of course, it would be rude to say no

When in Rome 
Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
The Cayman Islands Coat of Arms was placed on each bulkhead side at the back of the aircraft giving the aircraft a very regal touch

That's very classy, I like it a lot, although I'm surprised that they missed up on a chance to add Sir Turtle

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Immigration, was of course, busy and slow moving and after nearly an hour in the line, we were stamped into the US

As soon as you said Terminal E, I groaned. Only an hour? I'd say you were lucky! Definitely the worse CBP in the USA IMHO

Quoting palmjet (Reply 2):
MIA E-concourse is pretty uninspiring and depressing in my opinion

I can't stand it. It's sole saving virtue is that it is connected airside to Terminal D, which is better by a scale of at least a million

Quoting palmjet (Reply 2):
Sir Turtle Club members

Well, what else would they have called it!?

Quoting palmjet (Reply 2):
Why didn't I just stay on this aircraft and book the 737 all the way through? What fun would that have been, especially as Cayman Airways own website offered me the chance to de-board here, and get on a Twin Otter two hours later, with an intermediate stop in between?

I would have been sorely disappointed in you had you even considered this option!  
Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Getting to Grand Cayman on British Airways will be the subject of a separate report

And I very much look forward to it  


Thank you for the stunning trip report. Cayman Airways look like a really nice carrier, and it's good to see that they stay true to their history and (for want of a better word) spirit. And you're very lucky to have snagged the Twin Otter, I'm very jealous!

Happy flying,
Alex



Worked Hard, Flew Right
User currently offlineflymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7108 posts, RR: 9
Reply 24, posted (11 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 6988 times:

Great TR. Always enjoy TR's with MIA but the best part was the Twin Otter flying. Great pictures.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
It’s hard to believe that there is a major urban centre so close to all of this natural wonder.

One of the things I love amount Miami. Everglades on one side and the Atlantic Ocean and Coral Reef on the other. If it were not for the everglades who knows how far the suburbs would go!

Quoting palmjet (Reply 2):
MIA’s E-concourse is pretty uninspiring and depressing in my opinion.

It is not great but still better than G or F! Hopefully it will be re-worked soon as it is connected to D which is great.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 2):
Miami is not the airport it was back in the mid 90s when I first visited – the sheer variety of types and airlines back then was amazing, as it was in the two decades or so before that. It all feels a little sterile these days – not a single DC8 or 707 to be spotted.

I have see videos of MIA from the 90s and I do remember MIA in the late 90s early 2000s and this is true it was something back then. But there were so many more airlines and varied fleets back then too. But compared to most airports its still a great place to spot. The last time I have seen a 707 was in MIA. So few DC-8s and 707s these days unfortunately. Still have some 727s at MIA though.



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
25 Post contains images PlaneHunter : Hi Palmjet, great report with fantastic pictures! Rare airline and rare area, very enjoyable stuff! I'd love to visit the Caymans, really nice destina
26 jwhite9185 : Hi there PJ - great report as ever, and also as ever I'm slightly jealous that you can get such good pictures!! The airport in Grand Cayman looks more
27 Post contains images infodesk : Hi PJ, Thank you, once again, for an excellent report. From the great quality photos to the interesting flights and all the history about Cayman Airwa
28 Post contains images abrelosojos : Awesome TR. I am glad you were able to achieve a 20 year old dream . Cayman Airways looks pretty good for those short hauls. I have only flown on thei
29 Post contains links MSS658 : Hello PJ Another nice trip report, thanks for taking the time to share it. Interesting review on Cayman Airways, they definate beat AA on similar rout
30 Post contains images adamspotter : Hi Palmjet! What a fantastic report! provided with many nice pictures as usual Once I saw you went to the Caymans and flew Cayman Airways I was very m
31 roberts87 : What an awesome report on what seems like a very interesting airline indeed. I enjoyed reading it very much. Thanks for posting!
32 Post contains images SR117 : Dear Palmjet Thank you so much for putting this wonderful trip report together ! A wonderful turtlefest. Not only that, he has served as an inspiratio
33 Post contains images palmjet : Thanks all for your comments and apologies for not acknowledging you earlier - things have been manic at work. Nils, Glad you enjoyed. For some trips,
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