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Costly Ja50 homecoming

Sky-high plane fares keep J’cans away

Harold Bailey

Monday, August 06, 2012    

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NEW YORK, USA — Plans by scores of Jamaican nationals here to return to their homeland to participate in the country's historic 50th anniversary celebrations are being thwarted by the high cost of airfares and the shortage of available seats.

Most fares are running upwards of US$700, over 70 per cent more than they would cost under

normal circumstances.

Two of the most used airlines operating flights between New York and Jamaica are JetBlue and Caribbean Airlines. Fares quoted by Jet Blue — which markets itself as a low-cost carrier — range from US$761 to US$926, while those for Caribbean Airlines are as high as US$976.

In the case of American Airlines, the problem was that it has no available seats into Kingston for the period.

The situation is causing huge disappointments among Jamaicans here.

One traveller told the Jamaica Observer that his $556 ticket on an American Airlines flight from New York to Kingston on Thursday had to be booked two months in advance. It also meant that he had to endure two stops in Orlando and Miami before reaching Kingston.

"It took me more than 14 hours to reach here," he told the Sunday Observer. A straight flight between New York and Kingston takes just under four hours.

Additionally, he said at the Miami stop, airline staff were offering passengers $1,000-vouchers to voluntarily give up their seats, apparently having overbooked the flight.

"But no one budged because the seats were too hard to come by," he said.

Meanwhile, the few available seats on Caribbean Airlines' round-trip flights out of Fort Lauderdale in Florida — which has a large Jamaican community — to Kingston, were fetching upwards of US$740, checks on its website showed Friday.

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