Not all regional Caribbean airlines are equal…so which ones are the best?
If only we had wings…getting from one island to another would be a breeze! Unfortunately, however, suddenly sprouting wings and taking flight is only possible in dreams. So, you’ll either have to charter a boat, or utilize regional Caribbean airlines to get from island to island.
You can catch a flight to the Caribbean with most major airlines from North American and Europe. However, most major airlines don’t offer inter-island flights. That’s where regional caribbean airlines come in. They generally employ smaller planes, and transport people between the islands. Some aircraft are as small as 6-seaters. Others take off and land in water!
Now, some say that Caribbean regional jets have a reputation for being late, and that they can be quite costly. Nevertheless, booking flights with regional airlines is inevitable if you want to do some “island hopping” without taking boats or ferries.
So, here are the “best” regional Caribbean airlines, according to the World Airline Awards 2018. These awards were determined by passenger satisfaction surveys.
1. Caribbean Airlines
Caribbean Airlines is a government-owned airline located in Trinidad and Tobago. They offer flights to 20 destinations in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and North America. These destinations include: Toronto, New York, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Nassau, and Montego Bay. In addition, Caribbean Airlines serves Kingston, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia, Grenada, Caracas, Barbados, Tobago, Trinidad, Georgetown and Paramaribo.
Main hubs are Piarco International Airport, Cheddi Jagan International Airport, and Norman Manley International Airport.
When Caribbean Airlines first began operations in 2007, they had on on-time performance rating of 93.9%. This was well above the 85% standard of the aviation industry. Today, the airline continues to enjoy mostly good reviews. In addition, they offer perks such as a frequent flyer program and inflight entertainment.
One advantage of flying with Caribbean Airlines is the fact that they offer one-way flights. These are perfect for travelers who wish to visit several destinations.
2. Air Caraibes
This is a French airline that mainly flies between Guyana, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba, Martinique, Haiti, St. Bart’s, St. Martin, and Guadeloupe. However, Air Caraibes also offers flights from Paris to the Caribbean. Headquarters are located in Guadeloupe. Its main base is Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport.
Prices are in euros for Air Caraibes. To see flights, visit aircaraibes.com.
Bahamasair is the national airline of the Bahamas. They fly to all major Bahamian islands. In addition, they offer flights from several locations in the United States, such as Houston and Miami. In 2017, Bahamasair won the Cacique Airline of the Year award.
Prices are generally reasonable. A round trip flight to the Bahamas from Houston (non-stop) is currently priced at $415.
Interestingly, Bahamasair is one of the safest airlines to fly. Since its founding in 1973, it has not had any fatal accidents. There are only about 40 airlines in the entire world that have this distinction.
Check out the Bahamasair website here.
LIAT is an acronym for Leeward Islands Air Transport. Serving 15 islands, this airline is headquartered in St. John and Antigua. Founded in 1956, it’s one of the oldest flight providers in the Caribbean.
Although LIAT made the World Airline Awards list in 2018, online reviews have cast doubt on whether its services are truly reliable or not. In 2017, a barrage of complaints about delays and inconsistency caused LIAT to make drastic improvements. Customer opinions improved overall in 2018 and 2019.
Nevertheless, LIAT is the only option for certain flights between some islands. Therefore, they have been known to charge a high price for certain routes.
Search for flights with LIAT on their official website.
5. Cayman Airways
Cayman Airways, founded in 1968, currently serves 12 destinations. These include the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Cuba, and the United States. With headquarters in Georgetown, Grand Cayman, has a small fleet of just 7 planes.
Nevertheless, this small-scale operator has won some big recognition. In 2019, Cayman Airways won two Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice awards: one for best airline in the Caribbean, and the other for top specialty and leisure airline.
Check their website for current specials, as they often feature deals between the Cayman islands and the United States. For example, they offer round trip flights between Miami and Grand Cayman for just $404 (including taxes and fees).
6. InterCaribbean Airways
Headquartered in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, this regional Caribbean airline’s slogan is “connecting you and the Caribbean”. Founded in 1991, Intercaribbean currently offers 41 routes to 16 locations. It was previously known as Air Turks & Caicos.
Be aware that reviews are a mixed bag for this airline. As with many other regional Caribbean airlines, scheduling problems and delays are often an issue. Nevertheless, InterCaribbean is the best option for flights to Turks and Caicos and the surrounding islands.
Check InterCaribbean website for current flights.
7. Cubana de Aviación
Also known as Cubana Airlines, this airline began operations in 1929. It was the first Latin American provider to establish regular routes to Miami and Europe. Today, Cubana flies to 35 destinations in the Caribbean, South America, United States, and Europe.
In addition, they offer affordable one-way flights. These are great options for travelers who want to see several islands during their Caribbean vacation.
Search Cubana’s website in English or Spanish for regional Caribbean flights and more.
8. Surinam Airways
Surinam Airways is headquartered and Paramaribo, Suriname. It is completely owned by the Surinamese government. With just 3 aircraft in its fleet, the airline services about 10 destinations in the Caribbean, United States, and Europe. These include Aruba, Belem, Willemstad, Cayenne, Georgetown, Amsterdam, Paramaribo, Port of Spain and Miami. A sample round trip flight from Amsterdam to Paramaribo costs 660 euros.
In addition, Surinam Airways offers plenty of perks for customers. They offer discounts for seniors, children, and infants, plus a loyalty club. Furthermore, the website features vacation deals from time to time. Also, you can request special meals during your flight.
Search and book flights with Surinam Airways here.
Ready to book your flight to the Caribbean? Find great deals on luxury vacation villas on many Caribbean islands here.
Main image source: caribbean-airlines.com