By Guy Britton
MONTEGO BAY — Could the Caribbean lead a transformation of the air travel industry?
Perhaps Jamaica can.
Airlines, airport authorities, immigration and customs can all learn valuable lessons from Jamaica and Montego Bay’s Club Mobay.
On a recent trip through the Montego Bay airport, we looked into the services of Club Mobay , a relatively new airport lounge and airport escort service. The verdict? A deeply satisfying experience and a stark contrast from the normal stress of air travel, particularly in the Caribbean.
Air travel, once a grand experience, has descended to the point of persecution. Security, immigration, customs and crowds have made international air travel almost painful — think how hard destinations, resorts and hotels have to work to overcome the constant ordeal — it’s amazing people even travel at all.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, and Club Mobay shows that.
Airport lounges aren’t a new concept but Club Mobay is different and even groundbreaking. It’s what you might call an airport enhancement service — an independent operation serving all airlines and travelers for a relatively modest fee of $30 for departure service and $50 for arrival service.
The Club escorts guests through customs and immigration both on arrival and departures.
You can reserve the service ahead of travel and be met by a representative even before you get to immigration (and long lines).
Once in the club, there are numerous salons with comfortable seating areas, large televisions, good food, bars and buffet food, a family room with a kids play room, a business centre, a small spa area, showers and plenty of staff to keep things clean and running smoothly.
It transforms the airport experience — and is far ahead of the game in the Caribbean, where the airport experience is far too often neglected.
Travelers today want good service and they can afford to pay for it. To deny them that service and treat air traveler as steerage is shortsighted and a missed opportunity for the region.
Indeed, every airport in the Caribbean should look into a similar services to Club Mobay.
The Caribbean largely created the all-inclusive resort — why not an all-inclusive airport?
The Caribbean has always taken the lead in hospitality and luxury, in many ways pioneering tourism as we know it.
Now it’s time to transform the air travel industry — and learn from Club Mobay.