When flying in Cape Verde, you unfortunately only have one choice – Binter Cabo Verde! As I was short on time and because I wanted to see several islands, this seemed like a fairly cheap and perfect option to get around these beautiful islands.
After spending two nights on the main island Sal discovering all the wonderful sights, it was time to take my first Binter flight. To access most of the islands you will need to fly via their hub in the capital Praia, Santiago, this isn’t too bad as the airline currently only have two ATR planes, so it’s likely that you’ll be getting off and getting on exactly the same aircraft. Although our first flight was delayed we were relieved that our flight did in fact take off, there are some very hideous reviews of this airline online which made me rather nervous about my travel plans and whether I would be able to fulfil them.
To be fair, after many European airlines have stripped out all of their service and forced you to now pay for everything onboard I was quite happy to receive a free glass of water and some nuts/corn for snacks. However, that’s pretty much the only positive I can say about Binter CV.
I flew from Sal to Praia and then straight onto Sao Filipe (Fogo), which I highly recommend a visit to, just to see the incredible Pico de Fogo volcano.
Fogo is an incredibly small island, therefore the airport is a rather simple affair but nevertheless functioning … just! A taxi from the main town of Sao Filipe will take a maximum of 5 minutes, so it’s safe to say that I’d recommend bringing plenty of entertainment. Upon approaching the check-in desks, sadly I seemed to get a jobsworth employee who decided that our hand luggage was too big (even though we got on them on board getting there) which subsequently resulted in them being damaged whilst in the hold. What annoyed me the most about the employee was that he seemed racist, we were the only passengers in the queue that either wasn’t Cape Verdean or Portuguese and yet were the only passengers that were forced to check in our hand baggage. Coincidence? Maybe, or perhaps homophobic, sadly I’ll never know but I certainly stood my ground to fight my corner.
Whilst situated in waiting area we overheard an announcement that unfortunately confirmed the inbound aircraft was late and that we had to simply wait, thankfully they did allow us to get some free food from the one cafe at the airport. This news however, literally sent me into panic mode as we were flying via Praia and then onto Boa Vista. After a rather long two hour delay we could finally see the plane on the horizon coming in to land, this was a huge relief!
Seemingly the delay appears to have been medical-related, this is regular occurrence with Binter CV as they help evacuate medical emergency patients to the main city Praia. The passenger was boarded and strewn out over the back three rows, obviously I’m not mad at the delay if someone is medically in distress and needing help, so we took this on the chin and thankfully landed in Praia Airport safely.
Sadly our lame Binter experience didn’t end there though as we were met at the airport and taken into the terminal to wait for our next flight. However, we waited, and waited and were then after another 3 hour delay were told the horrendous news that all flights had subsequently been cancelled due to a “technical fault”. Given that Binter’s only two aircraft were sat right in front of us, I’m highly suspicious that this was the truth and it was more likely to be that the crew had no more flying hours available and the airline were forced to ground everything.
This had a significant knock-on effect for at least six flights, the Binter CV customer service counter was absolutely inundated with angry passengers demanding information, sadly for us they didn’t have any and couldn’t tell us when the next flight was. I’ve never been more offended than when one of Binter’s employees stood up from her desk and clicked her fingers at me – RUDE! I certainly didn’t deserve to be treated like that, sadly once we received our bags and had argued with the airline for hours the buses that were taking passengers to the hotel had already gone. We decided not to take this option, at the end of the day it was our holiday and we didn’t want to get stuck in a dump with nowhere to go and nothing to see.
After being pretty much abandoned by Binter we decided to make our own plans, although we were due to fly to Boa Vista we realised that this part of our trip seemed now highly unlikely that we’d be able to get there. So this required us to change our International flights, luckily TAP Air Portugal have a desk at Praia airport, we were incredibly lucky that they were able to change a non-changable/refundable ticket to a new route, this is almost unheard of and I can only say a huge thanks to the assistant who helped us get out of an impossible situation.
Thankfully at Praia airport they have free Wifi and I was able to book a hotel for us to stay at for a few days, but I can definitely see why I hadn’t planned on visiting Praia in the first place – absolute dump!
SO, after leaving Cape Verde FINALLY I was able to submit a claim for the cancelled flights and subsequent costs that occurred. Although Binter CV had other ideas and decided that they’d take weeks to reply and eventually months to actually getting round to dealing with the problem. This was incredibly frustrating so I decided to take to social media and vent my feelings to see if anyone else had also encountered the same issues, it wasn’t a huge surprise to see other similar comments.
To finally conclude, although Binter have now paid for our cancelled hotel and subsequent additional hotel costs I am still fighting to get my actual cancelled flights refunded. So as they say, the saga goes on…!
All I can say is I feel sorry for the people of Cape Verde who sadly only have one option to fly internally. I think it is safe to say that I will never use this airline again after everything they put me and my family through and they are definitely one of the worst airlines I’ve experienced anywhere in the world.
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