Flights are booked.
The special fares are gone.
Despite the Tourism Development Companys (TDC) campaign
to convince Trinidadians to vacation at home and appreciate
all that is localfrom the hotels to the cuisinea
majority of them are flying out this holiday period.
Wayne Rodriguez, president of the T&T Travel Agents
Association, said most flights to big city destinations,
whether it is to London, New York or Toronto, are fully
rush now is for special fares with American Airlines to
Miami, Los Angeles and Boston. A lot of people are taking
advantage of those low fares, Rodriguez said.
He reported an increase in the volume of people travelling,
with a steady flow in bookings from January to July.
is a good destination this year, Rodriguez said. Aruba
has been picking up within the last two to three weeks.
Farouk Khan, who runs a travel service in San Fernando,
said apart from Trinidadians heading to North America, theres
a lot of people heading to Barbados for Cropover.
Seats are limited, though, mainly due to the merger between
Liat and Caribbean Star.
most cases, only first class is available. You may get the
odd seat in economy, Khan said.
First class is pricey:
n New York will cost you $10,000.
n Miami, $8,000
n Toronto, between $14,000 and $15,000
n And London is a whopping $22,000
Khan said this time of year is traditionally very busy when
it comes to Trinidadians and travel, but this year seems
to be unusually so.
could be because of the reduction in flights departing Trinidad
for the summer, Khan said, referring to Caribbean
For instance, whereas BWIA, the defunct airline, used to
make two flights a day to Miami, its successor, Caribbean
Airlines, makes one trip.
Most of Caribbean Airlines special rates to North
America, which ran from May to September, have been snapped
up with few seats remaining.
The ones still available are up to $1,000 more expensive
than the specials offered, Khan said.
Khan explained the airlines pricing strategy.
While airlines like their prices to stay competitive, there
might be as many as five different prices for an economy
seat to any destination with no difference in service.
reduce a certain amount of seats at lower costs so it balances
off the average price per seat.
we tell people you are paying $6,000, but this is not the
cheapest price. The cheaper seat is sold out, Khan
In instances where travellers find the established airlines
prices too steep, they resort to charters, whose prices
can be as much as $500 cheaper.
Khan, the traveller, has visited London several times as
thats where his son is studying.
The youth in Khan likes Orlando.
I go there, I feel like a kid again.
He enjoys Wet n Wild, Epcot at Walt Disney World,
one part of the world you can go and forget your troubles,
Anand Mathura, reservation agent at Fantasy Travel in Princes
Town, said even though a last-minute booking for an economy
seat to London is $12,000 on British Airways, Trinidadians
are forking out the cash.
If one had booked a London seat around March/April, it would
have cost about $7,000.
Mathura said the one who paid $12,000 sometimes ended up
sitting next to a passenger who paid only $7,000.
person who fixed their holiday, who planned their dates
and booked early, gets the cheap seats.
Trinidadians are also opting to holiday in Curacao via Suriname
Airways and Primaris Airlines.
You might wonder how people affording these expensive trips?
Mathura said some of the travelling public from Princes
Town are contractors, sell clothing, jewelry or own groceries.
Some take loans.
Mathura said Republic Bank offered to pay his employer $50
for each customer who was sent to them for a loan that was
are sceptical about taking loans. I asked a lot of people,
but they had their own money to pay for their tickets,
He said some Trinidadians prefer to go to Miami instead
of a Caribbean destination because the cost is sometimes
Some Trinidadians are crossing water this holiday period,
while not going very far afield.
Many still enjoy good old Tobago.
For the owners of guest houses and apartments in pristine
Tobago, Trinidadians account for about 60 per cent of their
Rene Seepersadsingh, president of the Tobago Hotel Association,
said a fair amount of Trinis go to Tobago, especially with
the addition of the new fast ferry, T&T Spirit, on the
He said the issue of seating availability is one of supply
is only so much space. For the most part, the airbridge
is reliable. There are no major complaints, Seepersadsingh
He said those who opt for a more exotic locale do so because
they have greater spending power.
take Tobago for granted, something they can always do,
the airlines say:
and New York preferred destinations
of Delta Airlines flights for July were booked.
The first destination of choice for hot-footed Trinidadians
was Atlanta with New York being second.
Heather St Louis, account manager at Delta, said Trinidadians
are travelling out of the Caribbean because some hotel rates
in North America are more competitive than regional fares.
St Louis, who has worked with BWIA, Pan American Airways
(Pan Am) and United Airlines, said meals are cheaper in
North America and there are more interesting places to visit.
She spoke of Atlantas CNN Centre, the Martin Luther
King Centre, Coca Colas head office, which has been
refurbished, and the Atlanta Aquarium which are major tourist
attractions. Those in the retail trade go to the wholesale
mall, Premium Outlet in Atlanta.
has more than 20,000 Trinidadians, said St Louis,
who travels monthly to Panama and Atlanta for meetings.
American Airlines has special rates for its destinations
from September 4 to November 15, but the last day to pay
for them was July 23.
Reservation agent Cordelia St George said the popular destinations
are Miami, New York and Atlanta in the US.
She said 60 per cent of the airlines Trinidadian travellers
go to New York, with 30 per cent opting for Miami and the
remaining ten per cent heading to Atlanta.