by Jose Kevo
November 5, 2001
These opportunities are rarely published and when they are listed in newspaper Travel Sections, such as the NYTimes, you know there's more vacancies than they would care to admit. Information in this journal is based on flights leaving JFK or Newark, though I would have to assume that any East Coast airport with charter and smaller airlines serving the islands would likely have the same type of deals...if you know where to ask and look.
The downfall of this entire opportunity is the smaller charter companies that are here today and gone tomorrow...including Carnival Airline I/we took our three day trips on but no longer exists. Yet I continue to see ads in the Travel Section with various other upstart airlines which tells me these deals are still very real if you're willing to do the research. Even most NYC travel agents are unaware of these options and my first booking, with the newspaper ad as proof, was a learning process for an entire Travel Agency.
The spontaneity of the trip comes because airlines are reluctant to claim a seat "unsold" until all but the last minute. Therefore, don't expect to book the deals more than 72 hours in advance. Also keep a "standby" mentality since they will refund your money if you arrive at the airport and the seat has been booked by a package tourist.
Our flights were advertised as $99-round trip which came out to $137.50 with taxes and entry/exit fees at the airport included. These flights departed JFK at 7:30 a.m. with a 10:30 a.m. landing in Nassau. The flights then departed on the same day at 6:30 p.m. with a 9:30 p.m. landing back in NYC netting an 8-hour adventure in Nassau worth what ever it takes to get you there.
Similar advertised opportunities today leaving Newark are priced at $125 plus taxes. Also, be advised their modified flight times only leave one-day travelers with less than 5 hours in Nassau. I've got to believe similar deals, both cost and longer timeframe, are still out there. And if I get that itch to drag my toes through the sand in the middle of winter and find one again, I'll surely update this entry.
From journal Working the "Day Shift" on Cable Beach