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I’ll cut right to the chase. Flying into and out of Jamaica can be frustrating. You are dealing with a third-world country with meager resources. Hopefully, your tourist dollars will make an impact. Jamaicans are trying hard, but have a long way to go. If you are flying to Montego Bay airport during high season on a weekend, it’s a madhouse. During weekdays, it’s usually not too bad, so I don’t think any special strategy is required. If you are landing or departing on a Saturday, brace yourself.
Here are a few things you should be aware of:
1) If you land on a weekend, expect huge immigration lines. They move fairly slowly, so it will probably take you about an hour to get through. Take the kids to the bathroom before you get in line and make sure you have some snacks and something to entertain them. Ours’ were tired from the flight and were cranky as can be. As a result, my husband got cranky. He whispered to me: “They are driving me crazy.” Yeah, I know what it’s like. I’m a stay-at-home mom.
Short rant alert! To those without kids, please, be compassionate when you see children acting up. Trust me, we as parents don’t want to create havoc and are keenly aware when our spawn is a nuisance. To those who say we chose to have kids just to inflict misery on the rest of mankind, it’s definitely true in my case. However, some kids were adopted. Boom. Take comfort in the fact that you get to leave, we are stuck with them 24/7!
2) Consider purchasing Club Mobay passes for arrival, but only if you can easily afford them. Here is the thing. It’s nice to skip immigration line, but it will cost you $150 for a family of four ($50 per adult, $25 per child). I don’t know about you, but for us it’s a ton of money.
As much as I hate to stand in line for one hour or more, I’ll do it to save $150. That said, if you’ve been flying all day, I can see why this could be a great way to start your vacation. Do keep in mind that lines aren’t too bad on weekdays, so in all likelihood, your passes won’t be worth their salt during those times. You do get access to lounge with snacks, but if you are going to an-inlcusive resort, it’s not critical.
Passes for departure are a bit cheaper: $30 per adult, $15 per child. Once again, those will probably come in handy on weekends. We left on a Tuesday, and there were hardly any lines for immigration check. Few years ago we flew out on Saturday, and it was utter chaos. Keep in mind that if you have small kids, sometimes they’ll let you skip the line, but it’s not a guarantee.
3) If you have Priority Pass benefit through a credit card, it will come in handy. It won’t let you skip immigration line upon arrival, but you can still access a lounge to get some snacks before you head to your resort. We did just that because we weren’t sure how long it would take us to check in. The arrival Club Mobay lounge is located in the area right before you exit the airport.
Priority Pass can be very valuable during departure because it does let you bypass the immigration line. This will help you avoid a lot of stress on a weekend. We flew out on Tuesday, so it didn’t really save us all that much time. But I remember our Saturday flight few years ago, and this pass would have been invaluable. So, when you check in for your flight, look for Club Mobay sign and they will direct you to where you need to go.
As a CSR cardholder, I was allowed to bring my entire family free of charge. We had a few hours to kill before the flight, so I figured lounge would be a nice place to hang out and get some complimentary food.
Club Mobay departure lounge
When we entered the main area, it was super crowded. I figured we would get some snacks and leave. To my surprise, the lounge attendant directed us to a special area for families, located on a separate level. Nice! They had a soundproof room with toys:
My daughter was happy as a clam while playing with dolls
Meanwhile, my husband and I got to relax nearby
The food was OK, plus, it was free, so how can I complain? I didn’t apply for CSR due to Priority Pass benefit, so to me this perk was just gravy on top. They had soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts etc. There was also coffee, plus various drinks. My kids found something to their liking, which was my main concern. Most importantly, they had a nice area to play, and my husband and I enjoyed some peace and quiet.
The lounge attendant insisted that we have alcoholic drinks, even though it was only 11:00 AM. Oh well, it’s twelve o’clock somewhere, right? Yes, I’m sure tips were the motivating factor, but people in Jamaica are poor, so I’m not passing judgement.
Overall, it was a wonderful place to relax for few hours. If you have Amex Platinum card that allows two free guests, but you have a family of four, I absolutely think it’s worth it to pay $30 extra to access this lounge. Of course, it does depend on the length of the wait before the flight as well as the age of your kids.
Readers, have you been to Club Mobay? What are your thoughts?
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Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.