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Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomePointsBookingStuck on a Deserted Island? TPOL's Trouble in Cabo Verde

Stuck on a Deserted Island? TPOL’s Trouble in Cabo Verde

Stuck is part of the Still The Best Trip Report.

Do you recall my Still The Best itinerary (see How to Book the Best Itinerary: AA, Avios, Aeroplan, Miles & Smiles, Flying Blue, LifeMiles, Capital One)? Here were the tentative flights.

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Following my Punxsutawney TPOL Trip, I no longer book open-ended itineraries (see Punxsutawney TPOL: Travel Lessons  “Don’t Book Open-Ended Itineraries: It is too stressful and too time-consuming to figure out where I am going next and how I am getting home.”). I also book all flights between countries in advance. Here, you may have noticed the open jaw segment between SID and RAI. The flight time from Sal, Cabo Verde (SID) and Praia, Cabo Verde (RAI) is 45 minutes. I didn’t book it in advance because 1) There wasn’t a points option. 2) I figured it would be easy to jump on an island hopper to catch my Royal Air Maroc flight to Nice by way of Casablanca. I was wrong.

Lounging at the pool at the Ritz Carlton Tenerife (see Ritz Carlton Tenerife: We’ll Make It Better, The Second Time Around) on the day of my flight to Cabo Verde, I started looking for a flight to Praia. I kept receiving errors. Unconcerned, I decided to wait until I arrived in Sal to sort out this minor logistical challenge. I thought, worst case, I could take a ferry from Sal to Praia.

I arrived at the Hilton Cabo Verde late Friday night, August 18th, 2023 (see Hilton Cabo Verde: Perfect, Peaceful Stay). Upon checking in, I was told that inter-island flights fill up quickly and are unreliable when they are available. I was also told that the ferry is a nightmare, is unpredictable, uncomfortable, and can take a whole day. My heart sank.

Googling Bestfly Cabo Verde, the local airline, I found this:

Due to operational limitations, one of our aircraft is currently inoperative. In this context, we are still completing flights scheduled for 18AUG , which suffered significant delays. These delays stem from the need to operate primarily at airports without lighting before sunset and the unforeseen event of an emergency evacuation that took place last night.

As for the flights planned for 19AUG , they haven’t started yet and, unfortunately, we will have to cancel some connections to islands with restrictions related to sunset, such as Fogo and Maio.

We ask that you check the exact time of your flight on our website before heading to the airport. Times for 19AUG are being updated.

Checking the flight schedule, there were no flights available that would arrive in time to make my connection which was departing RAI at 3:55 AM on August 22nd. Instead of enjoying a festive Friday night, I went to sleep wondering what I would do next. The whole night I had dreams about ferries and flight connections. At 7 AM, I woke up restless and agitated. I went back to the front desk to see if they could give me more information. Their best recommendation was to go to the airport and see if I could fly on standby either on the 21st or the 22nd. I was annoyed that this inconvenience was interfering with my vacation. The next half of the day was not spent lounging on the beautiful Sal beach (see Cabo Verde: Puerto Rico’s Fraternal Twin). It was spent refreshing Bestfly Cabo Verde’s website, hoping for a flight to open.

While eating lunch, I refreshed once again on my mobile phone. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a flight for Monday. Frantic, I loaded my saved cc info, put in my 3-digit security pin, and hit ‘submit.’ It said ‘processing’ and it continued to say ‘processing.’ Then it timed out. Shortly thereafter, I received a notification that the transaction was declined. I hit refresh and, of course, all the flights were sold out.

TPOL’s Tip: Critical transactions should be done on a laptop, not on a phone.

TPOL’s Tip: Even on US carriers, I have noticed that saved cc numbers tend to be declined. It is a best practice to input the digits manually.

I was in Cabo Verde for 18 hours and was not having a good time. Instead of being held hostage by Bestfly Cabo Verde, I decided to take a different approach. I canceled my business class ticket on Royal Air Maroc and booked a flight direct from Sal to Lisbon, Portugal on Cabo Verde Airlines (see Rescued! Cabo Verde Airlines: Sal to Lisbon). Sure it was a four-hour flight in coach, but knowing I had a way off this beautiful island and only paying $260 provided me priceless peace of mind. I was finally able to enjoy wonderful Cabo Verbe (see Guns & Butter: Sal, Cabo Verde Travel Guide).

On paper, my itinerary did not change drastically. Instead of two nights in Nice, I would spend one in Lisbon and one in Nice. My plan was to spend one night in Lisbon and see my friend from Shanghai whom I had not seen in 13 years. Then I would fly to Nice on Lufthansa business bright and early to meet my other friend for a day of champagne beach debauchery. All of this was possible thanks to 20,000 Lifemiles and $67. If everything went according to plan, I would be back on schedule with minimal financial impact and a de minimis schedule disruption.

What could go wrong?

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  1. These little airlines . . . Sound so unreliable. The stress of being stuck is real! Now I’m wondering what happened with the VR flight.

  2. BestFly suddenly stopped their Cape Verde operations by end of April 2024. Leaving customers with tickets with stress because for some routes there is only one alternative and that is Capo Verde Airlines, which were fully booked due to BestFly cancelling all flights.

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