When we had decided that we would haul out the boat on Grenada, it was time to think about where we would stay and when and how we would travel home to Sweden. At this stage, we were in Martinique and it was at the beginning of June. It was still possible to book regular flights from Grenada to Europe via various stopovers and aircraft changes. We chose the fastest route which took about 24 hours from Grenada to Copenhagen. We would fly with LIAT via Barbados to Martinique and with Air France to Copenhagen via Paris. It did not take long before it turned out that this was too optimistic.
Departure or no departure?
We also found accommodation near the shipyard for the time between haul out and the flight back home. It felt great that all this was fixed before we set sail to Grenada. Unfortunately, we had not included the effect of closed borders, which means that LIAT will go bankrupt before our planned departure from Grenada.
At the beginning of July, we see a post on Facebook that there are discussions about putting LIAT into bankruptcy. We find an article in a newspaper where the government in Antigua (LIAT is owned by some countries in the Caribbean and Antigua is one of them) says that there are discussions about how the crisis in LIAT should be resolved.
We have purchased the flight through a travel agency (Kiwi.com) and we contact them to find out if the flight with LIAT is still relevant. I am told that this is the case. If it is canceled, they will contact us. The weeks go by and we see more news that LIAT will be declared bankrupt. We contact the travel agency again and get the same answer as last time, the flight is still scheduled. Who should we believe in?
Thursday 17 July, Carina contacts the airport in Grenada and asks if LIAT still operates? No is the answer, they have gone bankrupt due to pandemics. More googling and finally, we find information that the company was declared bankrupt at the end of June.
Now we are running out of time to find another way to get to Martinique in time, to catch the plane to Paris. While we are trying to get information from the travel agency, we ourselves have started looking for other ways to get to Martinique. There are no ferries, so we have to find a plane to go with. The airport in Grenada was opened on Wednesday, so it should be possible to fly to Martinique as long as we find a plane to go with.
We contact an airline that rents out aircraft for 6-12 passengers and registers interest in flying to Martinique. The smallest plane costs just over 3,000 EUR and we ask on Facebook if there are any others who need to get to Martinique on Tuesday. Unfortunately, we are late to ask and those who are going to fly have already chartered their own aircraft. We get hints about some small private planes that you can rent, including one on Bequia. It turns out that I already met the pilot when I was there in December and January. He runs a dive shop on Bequia and has a small four-seater plane we could go with.
On Sunday 19 July, Kiwi.com confirmes that the flight with LIAT has been canceled. There are no replacement flights and we do not receive any compensation because the pandemic is counted as force majeure. Tickets for the Martinique-Paris-Copenhagen flight are still valid. If we cancel the entire trip, we can get back EUR 100. Booking a new trip via Kiwi.com costs close to 3.500 EUR, which would mean a total cost to fly home of almost 5.500 EUR.
We contact the pilots we have previously been in contact with and now it’s only the Bequia pilot that has the opportunity to fly us. Said and done, on Sunday night when all other possibilities are exhausted, we book the pilot on Bequia. It will be cheaper than to re-book the entire trip with Kiwi.com.
When we arrived at the airport in Grenada, it was us and four other passengers who were going to travel. Everything worked as usual, with check-in, security check, and waiting at the gate to get on board. We could see our plane landing and parking outside our gate. Our checked bag arrived on a luggage cart and was loaded on board. Then it was our turn to go out to the plane in the company of a person from the airport.
We had a memorable flight from Grenada to Martinique in the little airplane from Bequia.
- Do not book flights too far in advance, preferably not during an ongoing pandemic.
- We had no use booking with Kiwi.com, it just got more complicated and they still took no responsibility for the whole trip when some of the routes were canceled due to bankruptcy.
- We paid for the plane tickets with a credit card that has a form of travel insurance. However, it did not pay dividends in this case. In principle, there was only compensation for delayed flights and lost luggage.
- When we checked in on Air France for the flight over the Atlantic, we saw that we could have each had checked luggage. According to Kiwi.com, we had only paid for one checked baggage.
- We also saw that there was a return ticket to fly back to Grenada a week later. Feels very strange when we had just bought a simple trip.
- In the future, we will book a flight ticket directly from the airline we will travel with.
End of our first season
This was the last blog from the first season of our long-distance sailing. We have some more technically oriented articles to write from this season, for example about our bimini, about how we got fuel consumption and other engine data on the chart plotter. I also hope to be able to write an article about GRIB files and various programs on PC and tablet to watch GRIB files. We may be blogging about more things while we take a break from sailing during the hurricane season.