Monday, July 10, 2017

Cayman Airways Ridiculous Connecting Baggage Policy

Cayman Airways arrived on Cayman Brac (only 30 minutes late) with us on board but with our dive gear still in Grand Cayman.  The reason why still has me slapping my forehead

My first flight on Cayman Airways was from Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands to Miami on February 25, 1985. I have flown the airline several other times but always on flights to Grand Cayman - never before have I checked baggage that required a connection in GCM.  It wasn't until my most recent trip with the airline, that I discovered the airline's ridiculous and highly inefficient connecting baggage policy.  I'm now less likely than ever to fly this airline again if I have to make a connection!

Cathy and I flew from Tampa to Cayman Brac, via Grand Cayman on July 1, 2017 and returned in the reverse order on July 8. We were upgraded to Business Class on both jet sections of the itinerary (TPA-GCM and GCM-TPA). The service on board the planes was wonderful. However the ridiculous experience with checked luggage in both directions has left a sour taste in our mouths regarding Cayman and the potential for flying them again.

On July 1 in the Tampa airport nobody at the Cayman Airways check in counter mentioned that despite our bags being checked through to Cayman Brac there would be a need to reclaim them in Grand Cayman and re-check them to Cayman Brac.

On July 1 in Tampa nobody from Cayman Airways at Gate 88 mentioned to any of your passengers that if they were making connections in Grand Cayman they were required to reclaim them in Grand Cayman and recheck them to their final destination. 

On July 1 while in flight on KX 201, none of the in-flight crew mentioned to any passenger that upon arrival in Grand Cayman we were required to re-claim our checked luggage and re-check it to our final destination.

On July 1, nobody on the plane mentioned to passengers disembarked that we were required to re-claim our checked bags in Grand Cayman and re-check them to our final destination.

On July 1, it was not until SEVEN MINUTES BEFORE SCHEDULED DEPARTURE TIME for our flight to Cayman that anyone said anything on the intercom in the departure area that "if you are traveling from Tampa to Cayman Brac or Roatan and checked baggage you need to re-claim it and re-check it at the check in counter."

SERIOUSLY!! Cayman Airways waited until SEVEN MINUTES before departure to tell us this. At least it wasn't just Cayman Brac passengers who were caught off guard because they did the same thing to passengers connecting to Roatan.

With this knowledge we returned to the baggage area, raced to the check in counter where we had to jump in front of other passengers so we could re-check our luggage, then go back through the madhouse of security before we could board. Luckily the flight was 20 minutes late boarding otherwise we would have been stuck in Grand Cayman .

On arrival in Cayman Brac we learned that none of the luggage we had just re-checked in Grand Cayman made it on the plane with us! We were told our luggage was too heavy and would be arriving on a later flight. It finally did - the next morning! It is simply wonderful that Cayman Airways allows 2 free bags each weighing 55 pounds. However if all that extra weight precludes the bags flying on the same plane with the passenger what is the advantage of allowing the extra weight?

This was totally unacceptable and unlike any experience with luggage I've ever had with a West Indian airline. Even Bahamasair, the world's largest unscheduled airline, doesn't create a debacle out of connecting baggage like you do.

On July 8 at check-in at Cayman Brac I had to ask the gate agent if it was necessary to re-claim our luggage in Grand Cayman and re-check it to Tampa despite the luggage being checked through to Tampa and I was told yes. Nobody at the check in counter thought to tell passengers about this inconvenience. So on arrival in Grand Cayman we had to do the same ridiculous process all over again despite not having to clear Cayman Islands Customs.

The debacle arriving in Grand Cayman makes us less than enthusiastic about ever taking another Cayman Airways flight that requires a connection. Secondly, why is it that with luggage tags that clearly show a connection, including a little orange tag that says "Connection" can't Cayman Airways take the luggage to our connecting plane saving us the time-consuming task of standing in line, again, to hand you luggage containing tags showing the bags are checked to our final destination? Then to top it off, after re-checking the bags we stood in line in the searing heat as what seemed like 400 other passengers from other airlines waited endlessly for entrance to the security area were there is ONE metal detector to service all those passengers!

I have been traveling in the West Indies since 1984 and have seen some pretty ridiculous things in those 34 years. However I must admit that the way Cayman Airways deals with connecting luggage and the requirement to re-claim and re-check it, has to rank as the most ridiculous waste of my time and energy I've experienced on any of the 73 islands in the islands that I've visited.

Despite the royal treatment my wife and I received as part of the Honeymoon Special, and despite the airline's marketing slogan of being "Cayman Kind", I promise you it will be a long time, if ever, before we fly Cayman again because of their ridiculous connecting baggage handling policy.

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