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Tips for Flying to Jamaica, Plus Review of Club Mobay

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.

Bottom line

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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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and 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.

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8 thoughts on “Tips for Flying to Jamaica, Plus Review of Club Mobay

  1. We went to Jamaica with a large group of volunteers doing relief work many years back. My only memory of the airport is that the officials confiscated every last bit of beef jerky we had all brought with us and then began eating it for themselves. Haha. Maybe it was a treat for them.

    • Jennifer, that’s funny! They just started eating it in front of you, wow. I think the airport has improved tremendously since the last time we went to Jamaica, but they still lack personnel to handle all the crowds during high season.

  2. I went to Jamaica January 2017 with my husband. My suggestions for the airport are to change into your coolest pants and top before getting on the plane. You could wear warmer clothes over the top if you are leaving from a cold area. I was practically melting from the heat and humidity in the airport and that had me grumpy. Next suggestion for the customs paper they give you on the plane, Don’t cross out or erase a check-mark next to drugs. Don’t underline or circle the word commercial next to drugs. My husband received the ultimate gift of a double lung transplant 6 years ago, so he takes a lot of anti-rejection drugs. I was unsure if I needed to declare that. After talking it over realized I should not mark that. I should have asked for a new paper! On the bright side, at least we didn’t get strip searched! I completely agree that going to the bathroom and having something to drink before you get in line in a smart idea! I debated over spending the money for the Mobay Lounge when planning the trip. My husband was able to get the CSR, and luckily I read how you had to “activate” the Priority Pass, and it arrived 1 day before we left! I thought the departure lounge was much bigger than the arrival lounge. It was nice to have an internet connection to send a few quick emails back home when in the lounge. It was nice that they kept bringing me more refills on my rum punch as well! But I am not sure if I could justify the price if I had to pay the 2 x $27 fee (PP membership through Hilton Reserve card).

    • @Clyn6 I agree, it sure got hot at the airport! Fortunately, we were coming from Florida, so we were all wearing light clothes. I can see why those who are flying from northern states would have a major problem in that area.
      Oh and those dumb customs papers! You have to fill out one for each member of the family. What a nuisance. I’m sorry you ran into trouble with those.
      The Mobay Club is not worth what they charge for it, but it sure is nice to skip immigration line. But $150 is a lot of money. I’m glad I skipped it on arrival. That’s a week’s worth of groceries, and we are a middle-class family. I’ll put up with some tantrums to save $150. But it was nice to take advantage of it on departure, courtesy of CSR.
      P.S. I’m so glad your husband is doing OK after such a major surgery. We can’t take anything for granted in our life, especially health.

      • We flew out of Chicago Midway in January, so I was wearing my wool socks and heavy cloths! Another lesson learned. But, I will also never get on the plane without a coat in the winter. Many years ago we were offered a bump December 24th at our connecting airport and they has us fly to Newark, New Jersey. There we had to sit OUTSIDE at a bus stop for a bus to take us to the other side of the airport. We were freezing cold because we did not wear coats. From there we finally flew to Tampa. I was thrilled to get 2 “free” round trip tickets to anywhere in the continent of the US. I guess that was my first taste of a travel hack!

    • @Clyn6 That’s a good idea about always taking a coat on a plane! Though to be honest, these days they would have to offer us a HUGE voucher in order for us to accept the bump. When you fly with small kids, you take the path of least resistance. If it’s just two of us, that’s a different story!

  3. My husband and I traveled to Montego Bay a couple of years ago during Thanksgiving weekend and the place was packed and hot. I was glad that I had purchased the Mobay VIP access it was very worth it for us but we were only 2 people. The representative holds up a sign with your name and takes you right to the immigration officer than over to the lounge for refreshments. We didn’t purchase it on the way back and my Ritz gave me access to the lounge.

    • @Boonie Sounds familiar! I’ll tell you, while we were standing in that line for an hour and the kids were going nuts, I kept thinking how nice it would be to go straight to baggage claim. It would have made things SO much easier. But I told my husband the price of passes and even he had to admit that it’s a huge sum for four people. So yeah, like I said, if a family is in a good financial shape, it might be worth the splurge. For those like me (folks of limited means), it’s probably better to just suck it up and spend an hour in line.

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