JetBlue might not have quite as extensive of an international route map as some other legacy network carriers, but I still managed to get to the Orient using my All You Can Jet pass. Orient Beach, that is.
Located on the French side of St. Martin, Orient Beach is a small town with a couple miles of white sand, a few dozen hotels and merchants and crystal-clear blue water as far as the eye can see. The town also has a number of restaurants in it, all within walking distance, so I was able to find some good food even though my rental car was broken and i had to disconnect the battery overnight to turn off the horn that was sounding incessantly. It is off-season in St. Martin right now so many of the shops and restaurants are either closed or running on limited hours but overall there was still enough to see and do and eat to keep me going.
After a morning walk the length of the beach – and passing plenty of naked old dudes having their morning constitutional as well – I settled in on a beach chair at La Playa, adjacent to L’Hoste Hotel where I was staying. I saw about a dozen people total over the next two hours which was just fine with me. A bit of quiet reading and relaxing time was quite enjoyable given my flight patterns the past couple weeks.
And then it was back to the Dutch side of the island and making my way back towards the airport. I drove through Phillipsburg and across the southern edge of the island as I made my way back towards Maho beach. Phillipsburg has a lovely beach of its own and plenty of hotels, as well as being a somewhat developed section of the island with grocery stores, shopping and industrial areas.
I returned the car early and headed to the airport to grab my boarding pass before a bit more plane-spotting at Maho beach. The line was completely ridiculous, however, three hours before departure so I made the 10 minute walk to the beach without having checked in first and figured I’d just hope for the best. It was worth it as just moments after I arrived at the beach – literally I dropped my bags in the sand to grab these shots – an Air Carribes A330, F-ORLY, arrived from Paris. What a beauty.
After that a couple US Airways planes – an A320 and a B757 – came in.
And then the real moment of truth for this day, the Air France A340-300 arriving from Paris.
Now it was only 1:40 prior to my flight’s scheduled departure so I bid adieu to my AYCJ pals I was plane-spotting with and hoofed it back to the airport. No line at check-in which was great. I also learned why I had been unable to complete online check-in. I got SSSS’d. Seriously. That hasn’t happened to me in 5+ years. I was shocked. Even the guy working the counter couldn’t figure it out.
The crazy part is that apparently it didn’t matter. No one checked anything special throughout the immigration or security screening process. They didn’t even check my boarding pass as I went through the metal detectors. At the gate the same agent took my ticket and asked me to make sure I had my bag inspected by the rent-a-goons they had performing “random” secondary screenings in the jetway area.
I probably could have just walked past that without trouble but I was curious to see just how thorough my screening would be. Not very. The buy didn’t make it more than 2 layers down into one of my two bags before waving me on. Don’t get me wrong – I think most of the “security” crap today is, well, crap – but they barely even tried here even after I was apparently flagged for some reason.
Off to seat 12A and a nice, smooth flight back up to New York City. A bit of a nap and a bit of screaming from the baby next to me, plus the lap child he was holding, and I made it safe and sound. Just another day in the Jetting life.
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