On February 8th 2017 I boarded a PAWA Dominicana flight with destination Miami. It was my first experience with this Dominican based airline and I must say it was one of the best flights I’ve taken in a while.
PAWA added St. Maarten to its itinerary back in August 2015 but it isn’t until Curaçao’s Insel Air started leaving passengers stranded all over the Dutch Caribbean, that PAWA really got a boost in popularity. It gave the people from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten another option and much needed hope that they could now actually get to their destinations.
PAWA now joins my other favorite Caribbean flagged airlines Air Caraïbes and Winair in my book of most reliable.
5 reasons why you too should fly with PAWA
The Price is Right
Our reason for flying with PAWA did not have anything to do with the struggles of other Caribbean airlines. Our reason was much simpler: We got to snatch three tickets to Miami from St. Maarten for almost a third of a roundtrip ticket on American Airlines. It came with a 6-hour layover in the Domincan Republic, but with prices this low who the hell cares. Also, there was the fear that these low prices would not last. No doubt as the airline’s popularity increases, so will the ticket prices.
Right on Time
The day of the flight came. I must admit, I was nervous. Caribbean based airlines overall do not have a great reputation when it comes to punctuality. Look at Liat and the struggling Insel for example. Imagine my surprise and relief when we heard the magic words “Cabin crew, prepare for takeoff” at the exact time the flight was actually scheduled to depart.
Dress to Impress
So, there we were, patiently waiting for the flight to board when the PAWA crew came walking by. It was like one of those dramatic scenes. Pilot and co pilot next to three pretty stewardesses walking in slow motion with hair flying wildly in the wind. Ok, there was no wind but I have not seen such an impeccably dressed crew since the ALM days. ALM, Antilliaans Luchtvaart Maatschappij was Curaçao’s pride and joy in the nineties and it’s unfortunate shutdown in 2001 was devastating. These PAWA guys and gals were dressed to impress. No hair out of place, make-up spot on and uniforms neatly pressed. But most importantly: a friendly, warm and very welcoming attitude towards passengers.
Que desea de comer?
My dear Caribbean people, these words were actually uttered to us by a smiling stewardess. For the non-Spanish speakers amongst you, it means: What would you like to eat?
Just after takeoff, about half an hour into the 2 and half hour flight to Miami a stewardess approached us and handed us a laminated card. We almost waived it off thinking she was handing out US custom forms, which we had already dutifully filled out. On the card were three lunch options and….wait for it….no listed price. After we both turned the card over to see if by any chance it had the proces listed on the back, my husband and I looked at each other with eyes wide and mouths open. We were in total disbelieve. We could actually choose out of three delicious options and it was included in the ticket price. Apparently they serve food on flights of 2 hours or longer, and I’m talking real food here. No pretzels, honey roasted peanuts or hummus with crackers. Free food in economy class on a Miami flight in times when other carriers are charging for extra luggage and even hand luggage is almost unheard of.
Here comes the Drink Cart
By now I may have lost some of my island readers who have undoubtedly stopped reading and are now frantically checking for PAWA flights to anywhere. Caribbean people and free food equals frenzy. It’s too bad because they are missing out on more good news.
So the drink cart comes rolling by and as it stops by our row catch a glimpse of a brown liquid in a glass bottle. Could it be? Are my eyes deceiving me? Rum, people. FREE rum. PAWA Dominicana serves Dominican Ron Barceló on their flights and it doesn’t matter the time of day. We got the option of a rum beverage on the afternoon flight as well as on the morning flight back from Miami.
Yes, PAWA is awesome and they are not even paying me to say this. See this as pure unsolicited advice from me, a travel blogger and overall decent human being. I must add that there were some minor hiccups and it wasn’t all amazingly fantastic. PAWA is after all a growing airline and it is no surprise that there are still a few kinks that need to be worked out.
Just a few things that need improving:
There were quite some confusion once in the DR. All passengers on a layover were pulled aside and asked for their ticket stub. You know, the one that practically everyone leaves behind on the plane because well, you have already completed that leg of your itinerary. Luckily I often use mine as a bookmark or just throw it in my bag. Once you hand the ground crew your stub, you get a card saying “en transito” or in transit. Then you wait until they have worked out what to do with those passengers without a stub and like a children on a school trip, you are led to your gate. I thought this a little strange and annoying. I am perfectly capable of finding my gate by myself. Besides, I had 6 hours to find it.
Another frustrating moment was when all passengers in transit were called to the desk at the gate and asked for their boarding pass for their next flight. The ground personnel typed away wildly on keyboards and spoke rapid Spanish into hand held radios, pointed excitedly at screens to then only proceed to rip up our boarding pass and hand us a new one. I still do not understand what that was all about but we had to go through it twice, once on the way to Miami and then again on the way back to St. Maarten, and still there were a few passengers that got double booked into the same seats.
Be prepared to brush up on your Spanish as most of the ground personnel as well as some flight crew do not speak much English. They get by with basic English flight lingo.
If you are like me and used to the comforts and great food and shopping choices offered in terminal E at Miami International then you are in for a big disappointment. PAWA just recently started flying to Miami and thus you get to board out of one of the older terminals. You know those smaller terminals with wet carpet smell, depressing interiors and limited food and beverage options. Our decision to wait until after the TSA control to get some breakfast was obviously a very bad one.
But these are all very minor inconveniences compared to the great on board service, friendly crew, food and drinks on board and did I mention the Free rum?
All that is left to say is that I hope PAWA is here to stay and I wish them many more successful years to come.
*All opinion are my own and I was at no time approached by PAWA Dominicana to write the above.