How to survive a long layover

Air travel from the Eastern to the Southern Caribbean or to Central America generally requires a long layover. Most of my customers don’t like layovers, defined as a layover of six hours or more in-transit. As you may know, the root causes of the long layover are (a) a lack of adequate flight options to the destination of choice; (b) lack of a USA visa and other extra-territorial challenges that affect the passenger’s ability to use a preferred shorter route.

Managing the long hours of a layover can be a challenge even for the seasoned business traveller.

Managing the long hours of a layover can be a challenge even for the seasoned business traveller.

Permit me to digress for a bit and restate the obvious: we need better quality regional air transport within Caricom, and we must protect it when we get it. When a new regional airline comes into the market with better service, and the current lousy providers cut their rates to eliminate the competition, we should remain unimpressed and stay with the new competition. Voting with your feet and wallet is the best way to fight mediocrity.

Pre-planning is the most effective tool for managing the layover challenge. If you take a red-eye flight, for example, the 1:00 am New York to Port of Spain or the Bridgetown to New York 3:00 am with a connecting flight that is more six hours away, I would recommend a 90-minute tour of your in-transit city. This tour is ideal because the exploration is enough to give you the highlights of the city and help you make an informed decision whether to return for a vacation. Additionally, you will be able to engage in at least 30 minutes of impulsive shopping before heading back to the airport. I would caution you to discuss this option with your travel professional so you don’t become a no-show for your flight.

If you are traveling on business, a Caribbean airport may not be the most effective location for conference calls or to edit a presentation to include the new ideas you had en-route. The solution may be a day-stay at an airport hotel that offers adequate Wi-Fi. Leisure travelers may also find that a four hour nap is just what the doctor ordered to improve health and vitality.

Theo, a travel professional with more than 15 years of experience, pioneered No USA Visa Cruises™, and Layaway Cruise™. Contact him via email

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