Yellow, Blue, Orange, or starting vacation on the left foot

I recently missed my AA flight out of Aruba, for vacation.

How is that possible, you ask, it’s not your first rodeo, you know what to do, where to go, how does that happen?

Mid-pandemic there were rumors that the then POTUS, borrowed immigration officers from among the Aruba pre-clearance staffers to go to the Mexican border. I heard there were unbearable lines at the airport, but I wasn’t going anywhere, then.

But recently, I did, and as a matter of fact, on the return flight, a friendly voice came over the PA system, with a bunch of warnings. The chipper flight attendant asked us to behave, wear our masks, obey the ten commandments etc., then launched into a speech about getting to the airport in Aruba on time, for fear of missing the return AA flight, at least three hours in advance, he said, and perhaps even three and a half hours.

He repeated the message four times during the flight from Miami to Aruba.

My fellow plane-riders didn’t even leave the tarmac in Florida, they already knew how hazardous their return flight check-in, might be.

Just before landing the same friendly voice warned us against using our cellphones in the terminal. Really, are you kidding, I asked on my way out the door. No, he said, it’s regulation and we must repeat the required text to our passengers.

Good luck with enforcing that.

Back to the beginning. Why I miss my flight.

A small mishap at check-in, with a date confusion on an Antigen test, followed by a quick call to the lab, took about 15 minutes. Thank you American Airlines for the help you so willingly extended.

Then we were the last ones to pick up our luggage and get to US immigration. The hall was full with passengers snaking around the crowd-control stanchions.

A fire-breathing dragon in uniform warned us from the start, not to rush the process, and If we missed the flight it was clearly our fault, laws are laws, she lectured, loudly, so that the entire room could hear she was the zero-compassion enforcer.

I stood there sheepishly pondering if to go back home, or sleep the night at the airport, until the following day’s flight, when I realized I was indeed born under a star.

American Airlines had an EXTRA flight that day, just two hours later, and they had space.

When I arrived huffing and puffing at the closed gate, 2, the American Airlines agent, handed me a new boarding pass and a fresh luggage tag. Go to gate 7, he said.

Thank you my friend, for your efficiency, and compassion.

I was not the only one who missed her flight that day, and I dare say, it is an everyday occurrence, but AA doesn’t have an EXTRA flight every day. I was lucky.

And hustling between gate 2 to 7, took care of my exercise quota for the day.

My US Immigration officer spoke Papiamento, which was sweet, and I didn’t mind him asking me a million questions.

What the airport says: As of December 1, 2021, all US departing passengers are allowed access to the check-in terminal based on groups and color codes for each group at the airport as part of the “Passenger Flow Control” for all passengers to the USA.

Adaptations have now been made because of daylight savings time in the US as of March 13, 2022. The time frame for check-in for the YELLOW group has now been adapted to be between 8am and 11am. The time frame for the BLUE group has also been further adapted to now be allowed to check-in between 11am and 1pm. The ORANGE check-in time frame has also been adapted to now fall between 1pm and 3pm.

The Passenger Flow Control concept entails that passenger are allowed to enter the check-in facilities based on separate groups (Yellow, Blue and Orange) established by the scheduled airline departure times. Passengers will thus receive a dedicated timeslot to enter the terminal as indicated in table below.

This dedicated time slot is determined for visitors based on the information provided on the ED (Electronic Disembarkation) Card where information on the departure flight will also have to be submitted. Residents travelling out of Aruba to the US should take their scheduled departure time into account to determine at what time they are allowed to check-in (not earlier than 3 hours before that time of departure).

AUA Airport will have ambassadors at the entry doors to actively control the time slots per passenger. Early passengers will have to wait outside for their correct time slot.


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March 12, 2022
Rona Coster