Looking for more info on Jamaica? Read about our experience staying at Jake’s Hotel in Treasure Beach, Jamaica
DH and I have come to realize that no adventure is complete without at least one unexpected setback. Case in point, Jamaica. After a wonderful week at Jake’s Hotel in Treasure Beach we were shuttled back to the Montego Bay airport with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately our plane had different ideas.
After the incoming American Airlines flight deplaned we loaded up only to find that both transponders were not working on the plane. A transponder is a radio transmitter that works with a ground radar. When the transponder receives a signal from a ground radar it returns a code with the aircraft’s position, along with the altitude and call sign. It is constantly being radar pinged, helping air traffic controllers on the ground determine the airplane’s speed and direction. Remember the missing Malaysia Airlines 370 flight? Word is their transponder had been turned off, hence why the crash site couldn’t be located. So in other words, it’s important to have at least one operating transponder…and we had none.
After sitting on the plane for an hour it was decided that we deplane as the mechanics did their best to fix the problem. I have to say that the captain kept us up-to-date as much as he could while we were on the plane. When we deplaned we found him wandering around the rest of the passengers giving his own insight on the problem. Unfortunately he wasn’t with the plane as they were working so he really was limited in information. The problem with flying in and out of Montego Bay is that there are only a handful of flights a day so it’s darn near impossible to be switched to a different flight. In addition, once the sun goes down there are no flights that come in or out of the airport due to their lack of lighting.
While we were in food spirits we could start to feel the tension, so we did the only thing we could do….talk to fellow passengers to keep the situation as light as possible.
After another 2 hours of little communication from the Jamaican American Airlines staff we were told a part would have to be flown in to Kingston, driven to Montego Bay, and they would work on it overnight. In other words, we were staying put for the night. Eh well. What could we do? By that point the airport had basically been shut down and the air conditioning turned off. Thankfully we had been hanging out close to the gate so we were one of the first in line to receive our vouchers. Others weren’t so lucky.
The good? American Air was setting us up in an all-inclusive resort for the night complete with transportation. I do have to say this was a pleasant surprise given that when this happens in the US it’s a total crap shoot as to the type of accommodations you’ll encounter.
Having spent the week at a quiet hotel on the south shore we were now going to have the opportunity to see what most everyone else experiences when they travel to Jamaica. As we made our way to the resort we had gotten to know several of our fellow passengers quite well and we decided we were going to live it up.
Liquor and stocked mini fridge in each room, massive food buffet, servers with drinks everywhere you turned, and staff bending over backwards to make sure your stay is perfect. DH and I have experienced this on a cruise so it didn’t totally catch us off guard, but it’s not the usual way we travel. After spending the evening with our new friends it was time to call it a night since we knew we had to be up bright and early to catch the shuttle back to the airport.
Unfortunately our fiasco wasn’t over. When we arrived at the airport at 8a the air conditioning had yet to be turned on and there was only one American Airlines employee there to assist all of the passengers. Word is there weren’t due to be on the clock for another half hour. Why they took us so early we have no clue. In any normal circumstance DH and I would’ve used the kiosk since we only had carry ons, but given the situation those weren’t an option. After waiting in line for well over an hour we had updated boarding passes and were through security and waiting at the gate ready for our flight.
But no, the fiasco continued. Instead of changing our flight number the screens showed two flight 1194 causing confusion with many of the passengers and the gates changed minute to minute. We had no idea where we were supposed to be. By 11a the plane was not at the gate ready for us to board for our noon flight. Things weren’t looking good. Minutes before noon we were told our flight was once again delayed until 2p.
While most people had already been peeved you could once again feel the tension raise even higher. The Jamaican American Air workers were providing no communication and when they did we would later find it was inaccurate information. All DH and I could do was laugh at the situation because we knew we were at their mercy.
Finally our repaired plane made an appearance at 1:30 and we were airborne shortly after 2p. Thankfully for us we didn’t miss our connection in Miami and before we knew it we were on to our final leg of our journey. This time around we were in for a pleasant surprise when we boarded to find we were in the first row behind business class which meant no seats in front of us and extra leg room. The Jamaican American Airline worker that checked us in slipped us an upgrade without telling us! Proof that good things can happen when you’re genuinely kind and have a smile on your face.
While our personal opinion may not mirror those of the rest of the passengers we do have to give some props to American Air. Sure the Jamaican employees didn’t seem to give a crap about the situation at all and their communication was seriously lacking, but the actual flight crew was pretty darn excellent. I also know that some passengers weren’t enthused with our accommodations, which I can understand. However, given the circumstances it could’ve been MUCH worse. DH and I aren’t ones to complain but thought it was worth a call to American Air. In turn they not only offered flight vouchers but points as well.
This was not the way we had hoped our expected our vacation to end, but it is what it is. As always, I’m a believer in things happening for a reason. Maybe it happened so we could meet new friends, or have the all-inclusive experience, or something we may never know. Who knows, but we took it in stride with smiles on our faces and it was an experience we’ll never forget!
Keep Smiling and Be Grateful =)