Surinam Airways’ Fascinating Flight To Amsterdam

You guys know I have a bit of an obsession with “random” routes. I put random in quotations because I’m not suggesting they’re actually without merit, but rather from a US-centric perspective they might be surprising. For example, in a few weeks I’ll be flying Condor from Frankfurt to Whitehorse, on their once weekly seasonal service.

I’d like to think I know just about all the longhaul routes and airlines that exist to & from the Americas, so when there’s one I’m not familiar with, I get really excited. That brings me to Surinam Airways’ fascinating flight between Paramaribo and Amsterdam. The route makes sense, given the Dutch ties here, and Surinam Airways isn’t even the only airline to operate the route.

The airline has a fleet of just three aircraft, including two 737s and one A340. The A340-300 they have is about 20 years old, and used to fly for China Southwest Airlines, Garuda, and Air China, before starting service for Surinam Airways in 2015.

The airline uses that plane to fly 4x weekly between Paramaribo and Amsterdam, which is a ~4,700 mile journey.

Surinam Airways’ A340-300 features just 12 business class seats, which seem to be angled seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. Other than the picture on Surinam Airways’ website, there’s almost nothing out there about the airline, and even the website doesn’t describe much about business class service.

Naturally I now desperately want to fly Surinam Airways, though unfortunately they don’t belong to any alliance or have any major airline partners, so I won’t be able to redeem miles on them.

Roundtrip business class fares aren’t too bad, at under $2,000:

The issue is that a one-way isn’t half the price, but rather costs $1,600-1,700, which isn’t nearly as good (and personally I’d only really like to fly them one-way):

It would be so cool to combine a flight on Surinam Airways in one direction with a flight on Boliviana de Aviación in the other direction, between Santa Cruz and Madrid, as those are the two Northern/Central South America transatlantic routes I’m most fascinated by:

On second thought, getting between Santa Cruz and Paramaribo looks tougher than getting to Saint Helena, so I think those would be two separate trips.

For that matter, getting to Paramaribo at all seems challenging. There are no direct flights from the US, and it almost seems like just doing a roundtrip ticket out of Amsterdam is the most practical option, unless I’m missing something. KLM and TUI also fly between Amsterdam and Paramaribo, so I could potentially fly them in one direction, and Surinam Airways in the other.

But when a roundtrip ticket is only $300 more than a one-way, I’m not sure booking a one-way on Surinam makes sense. So if anyone can think of a practical/economical way to combine Surinam Airways with an itinerary on another airline, I’d love to hear it!

Has anyone actually visited Paramaribo or flown Surinam Airways? How was it?

(Thanks to SQFirst for the idea, and featured image courtesy of Jules Meulemans)

Comments

  1. They do have direct flights to Paramaribo from Miami and Aruba. Around Usd 700 for a one-way from Miami in C.

  2. On Mondays they fly a 787 between Amsterdam and Paramaribo as PY9931. Can’t find a fare for business class on their 787 on ITA Matrix, though, only in economy…

  3. TUI is actually not flying to Paramaribo. The TUI flight is just a codeshare, operated by Surinam Airways. Sometimes quite a bit cheaper to book via TUI, compared to booking directly with Surinam Airways.

  4. The Karl May references in the comments to your original post are priceless. How many US residents have even heard of the guy? And yet, somehow, he sold millions of books — all to credulous Germans. (May novels are as authentically Western as Tarzan novels are African.)

    At least Jack London was mostly the real deal. And he’s way more popular in Europe than he is here: a new translation of the Call of the Wild, for example, just came out in French with a cover featuring an exact facsimile of the first edition.

  5. Ben a BoA trip report sounds cool, but I think it’d be even nicer to get an Air Europa review. I am pretty surprised that despite belonging to one of the big alliances you still havent flown them. From what I’ve heard the crew is relatively good and the seats on the 787 are ok (something like what Royal Air Maroc offers). You could fly them for as little as 600 in J from MAD to TLV one-way (or vice versa)

  6. Maybe try the AF “Island hopper route from MIA to CAY and then Surinam Airways to PBM? AF flight is operated by a 320, and makes stops in PAP, PTP, FDF, then CAY. That’s my “random route” I’d love to try even though it’s over 9 hours!

  7. Foppe is right…they fly to Miami. Also to Aruba and Curacao, if you’re looking for another way to get there.

    The TUI flights are in partnership with Surinam Airways, as TUI also flies Surinam’s A340 on various routes on its off days (as it sits for a while between flights to/from Paramaribo).

  8. “For that matter, getting to Paramaribo at all seems challenging. There are no direct flights from the US, and it almost seems like just doing a roundtrip ticket out of Amsterdam is the most practical option, unless I’m missing something. ”

    I think you are missing that Surinam Airways has flights from Miami to Paramaribo. Otherwise, there are bunch of flights from Curacao. I was in Paramaribo last year and came in from Georgetown, Guyana and flew back out through Curacao.

  9. I don’t know if I’d recommend flying to Paramaribo during the summer season on Surinam Airways. Those flights are really hectic, because of the unexperienced flyers who are going to visit their families for weeks and therefore pack tons of luggage. Surinam Airways has lots of trouble with their fleet as well. Paramaribo itself is nice enough for one or two days (it’s tiny), but most tourists don’t go to Surinam for Paramaribo – they visit the hinterland.

  10. Also, Surinam Air flies to Cayenne, so you could combine it with a Paris-Cayenne domestic route on Air France.

  11. TUI flies to PBM, see below time table (OR is TUI, and PY is Surinam Air):

    TN1A15AUGAMSPBM
    ** AMADEUS TIMETABLE – TN ** PBM PARAMARIBO.SR 15AUG18 22AUG18
    1 PY 993 3 AMS PBM 1020 1450 0 22AUG18 03OCT18 343 9:30
    2 KL 713 467 AMS PBM 1115 1515 0 08APR18 27OCT18 744 9:00
    3 PY9931 1 AMS PBM 1400 1845 0 25JUN18 22OCT18 788 9:45
    4 OR 301 1 AMS PBM 1400 1925 0 25JUN18 22OCT18 788 10:25
    5 KL 713 2 AMS PBM 1420 1820 0 10APR18 23OCT18 744 9:00
    6 PY 993 4567 AMS PBM 1515 1945 0 10AUG18 19AUG18 343 9:30

  12. Surinam has canceled their flights to Cayenne, much to my disappointment. I’m in the process of getting a refund right now for my flights that were booked for later this month. I heard it was an equipment problem with one of their planes and I don’t know if they’ll start them up again. I’ll be flying in from Georgetown to Paramaribo, and out to Port of Spain.

  13. Do you have Air Namibia’s WDH-FRA or Lao Airlines’ VTE-ICN on your radar? Would make for fascinating reviews.

  14. I think I have solved this puzzle:
    SFO/IAD/ATL/YYZ-AMS KLM 787
    AMS-PBM SLM A340
    PBM-AUA/GEO-MIA SLM 737
    MIA-VVI Boliviana 737
    VVI-MAD Boliviana 767
    MAD-MIA Air Europa 787 (you could also do Air Europa first, then Boliviana)

  15. @Alvin: TUI 787’s don’t have business class….only economy with the various seat pitches determining the fare.

  16. Fly AMS to Suriname, then Suriname to Miami. THEN go on Boliviana from Miami to VVI then VVI to Madrid! That way you can do Suriname Airways long/shorthaul and 2 different experiences on Boliviana!

  17. There is a seasonal flight to Orlando Sanford from PBM. There is also a flight from CUR on Fly All Ways, and you can easily get to CUR from the USA, direct flights from MIA, JFk, CLT and more.

    What are the prices like if you try to book one way business and one way Economy?

  18. I would recommend the AF island hopper as well. It’s expensive however such a cool route offered by AF. I believe that the crews are actually from France and are temporarily awarded this route. It’s definitely worth trying.

  19. My friend lives in Paramaribo and regularly flies Caribbean Airlines to go to JFK (via POS).

  20. @ Foppe — I’m not talking about TUI. I’m talking about the fact that Surinam Airways has their own 787 (at least according to ExpertFlyer and Flightradar24), which I was intrigued by. Unless Surinam codeshares with TUI?

  21. For southamericans, Surinam is almost a non existing country. You can fly easily between Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, etc. but flying to Surinam can be complicated.

  22. Well, this is you. You know every similar product across alliances in J and F but have no idea about small airlines or exotic routes (that is why you are so excited about this one…). I get flying business class is so cool, I am always so excited but trust me, there is nothing like flying nice route, exotic aircraft, exotic airline even in economy. Just to say I made it to that fascinating airport, I flew on this cool plane (not speaking about A350 or 787, either 330 or 767, how about 732, TU134, TU154, A345, 762…) or I logged this cool small airline. I mean yeah, I love to fly premium cabins but cant imagine doing this year and another year and another year again. Dont you lose excitement? It is all about the same. Go for it even in economy, it isn’t that bad. You will have memories, not like your AA 77W flight in C and then LX C flight…cause at the end, they both were the same….

  23. @ Nico — You must not read the blog very closely, then. You think I only know every similar product across alliances? Did you miss my recent reviews on Pakistan Airlines? Uzbekistan Airways? Somon Air? Ukraine International Airlines? Azerbaijan Airlines? TAAG?

    One of the complaints I’ve been getting from readers is that I’ve been reviewing too many random airlines, so I really don’t think that’s an accurate observation. Just my two cents…

  24. How many exotic airports and aircrafts include it? Sure those reviews were fairly exciting and I enjoyed them, I got inspired to fly on PS for such a cheap price from EU when they already have flat beds but…it is all about 777, 787, A330, A350….landing and taking off….And if you think about it, the flights are about the same…of course, there are some different flights like TAAG but at the end the business class is about the same. Eat nicely, sleep and hello destination…

  25. Haha this is hardly obscure. Theirs alot of people of surinam descend that go and visit family.

    ALOT.

  26. I think you should fly from Paramaribo to Belem to Fortaleza (or Recife) to Sal to Las Palmas to Ponta Delgada to Boston/NewYork/Providence/Montreal/Toronto. You’d cross different parts of the Atlantic back and forth without ever touching continental Africa/Europe OR backtracking! Super cool. Although if you start in Amsterdam, you would obviously touch it there. Still an interesting route with lots of variations possible!

  27. How about starting in AMS and do KLM AMS-SXM-CUR and then Fly All Ways CUR-PBM on a Fokker F70 and then Surinam Airways back to AMS, then hop to Madrid and do MAD-VVI on Boliviana de Aviación and etiher go back to Madrid on Air Europa or to MIA on AA or Boliviana de Aviación

  28. Surinam Airways flies to Miami. The non-stops operate seasonally, but year-round via Aruba and Georgetown on alternating days.

  29. Just fly via Aruba. Plenty of flights and AUA is an efficient airport to transit through.

  30. @Adam

    I tend to approach airline safety similar to how Ben does per the post he linked recently, but Fly All Ways is one of few airlines I’ve actually decided to avoid based on online info about their safety practices.

  31. @ Matthew

    Yes “the crews are actually from France” because Guyanne is France, Martinique is France, Guadeloupe is France… :-)))
    in the same way as Provence is France or Alsace is France.

    The crews may be assigned from Paris but I guess AF has also recruited, at least in the past, locally between our beloved French citizens living or born in those départements.

    Of course, it has not been so rosy, between the slavery period and the colionalism spirit, maybe stil in our mind today.
    But this is France in a supposed one and only country where it is on earth.

    And France shares its largest border of course with… Brazil.

  32. Paramaribo is nice for a day or two as a tourist – longer if you have friends or family who can show and drive you around. It’s a relatively small city at abut 250,000 in a country of about 500,000. Visit Waterkant, Fort Zeelandia, and walk around the historic downtown district (a UNESCO World Heritage site) with its charming Dutch influence. Foods are largely influenced by Indian, Indonesian, and African populations that make up the majority of the population. Eat roti at Roopram, have Surinamese style Indonesian food at a warung in the Blauwgrond neighborhood – Warung Manis or Warung Ursi. Get Surinamese creole at X-Avenue or from a Waterkant stall.

    Then head to the interior for the wilderness that makes up most of Suriname. I have heard nice things about the Bergendal eco resort on the Suriname River, and there are several smaller eco resorts on Brokopondo, an enormous man-made lake on the Suriname River. The Suriname River downstream of the lake is wide, slow, and mostly surrounded by rain forest. If you fish you might even catch a piranha. The lake is known for fishing, majestic looking trees poking out of large swaths of the lake, and for small scattered maroon villages along the shore. Colakreek is a popular day trip swimming destination for locals.

    Use Trinidad or Aruba as a connecting spot to Paramaribo to/from the U.S. if you want maximum flexibility for interesting international flights.

  33. @Alvin: Py9931 is the PY codeshare on the OR flight. Look it up; for example, today’s flight OR301 (codeshare PY9931) is operated by OR with 787 PH-TFL.

  34. Marc above hit the nail on the head with the Surinam Airways flight from Paramaribo to Belém. From there, to get home I’d either the the non-stop Azul flight to FLL (A320), or backtrack to GRU, VCP, or REC and catch a lie-flat business class seat on an Avianca Brasil or Azul.

  35. The idea of flying those brazilian airlines is great! They are better than Latam by a lot… Azul has a great business class product. The lounge is not that nice but they usually don’t have more than 2 flights leaving around the same time so that should not be a problem…
    Avianca Brasil has a very nice business class too. You could fly them from GRU and try the new Smiles lounge. They operate out of T2 so you can use the new Smiles lounge there instead of going to the Star Alliance Lounge in T3.

  36. I think you can go one way from POS in Caribbean Airlines and the other leg Curacao Insel Air. from both you can fly from/to NY or Miami. I tried Caribbean last year and it is quite decent.

  37. American Airlines is starting new non-stop service between Miami and Georgetown, Guyana in November. The VIP lounge at Cheddi Jaggan is worth a visit just for the retro experience alone. You could then originate your one-way on Surinam Airways in Georgetown with a connection in Paramaribo.

  38. Thanks for the update, DaveS. I was due to fly from Paramaribo to Cayenne on August 22nd. No notice from the airline of the cancellation, but it no longer shows up on the schedule. Super annoying.

  39. If you’d like to fly more South American airlines, why not build an itin with something like Azul, Tame, and Aerolineas Argentinas (which IIRC has been on your list for a while now), and then if you need to leave the continent, Air Europa (which also flies Cordoba, Argentina, to Asuncion, Paraguay)? Since the chance of readers flying one of the above is more than the chance of flying Suriname or Boliviana…

  40. Ben, I flew Surinam Airways’ 737 MIA to AUA economy twice this month on the Miami-Paramaribo route. I couldn’t see much difference between the very small first class section and the coach section. Most of the passengers were going through; only a few disembarked in Oranjestad. The attendants and gate agents were pleasant and took good care of their passengers – lots of soft drinks and a hot Indonesian-style lunch with hot rolls, no nasty little bags of pretzels! The flights took off on time and landed early, and no luggage was lost. Yes, I’d definitely fly them again.

  41. I have serious reservations of this airline and the way in which the airline treated family and others in May 2018….stranded in Suriname for a day before puting them on a fl

  42. I have reservations about the way the treated family stranded in Suriname for 1 day before they were flown back to Miami.

  43. Oddly enough, my wife’s cousins live in Paramaribo and whenever they fly up to see our family in Long Island, they fly Caribbean Air via AUA to JFK. It’s a long day, though, as the layover is usually pretty long. I didn’t know MIA was an option…

  44. I flew CAY-PBM-AMS in business on PY last summer. The plane and the crew are actually based in AMS (though all of the cabin crew seemed to be Surinamese), so the plane does four weekly AMS-PBM-AMS turns. Just be careful when you book because PY has just the one A340 (PZ-TCR) and when it goes in for a heavy check, PY uses a wet-leased aircraft on the AMS route. I believe PY has used a number of different wet-leased aircraft in the past – including at least one that didn’t have a business class cabin (TUI or Thomas Cook, I believe).

    As for PY’s business class… nothing to write home about. Very reminicient of international business class circa the early 1990s. The seats recline, but I don’t recall them being angled flat. I booked one of the middle two seats in the first row of business class (1E), but when I checked-in I was advised that I had been moved to an aisle in the second row (2J) for “operational” reasons. When I boarded, the passengers in seats 1AB and 1EF appeard to be PY employees given that they all seemed to know one another and also the cabin crew, whom they chatted with for a good portion of the flight. The PBM airport is primative, desolate, and EXTREMELY far from Paramaribo. It took a little over an hour to get from PBM to Paramaribo in the morning and almost two hours to get back to the airport later that evening. No clue why they built the airport in the middle of nowhere, but they did. The business class lounge was comically outdated and depressing. As for the service, again, nothing to write home about. The food was fine, but was served pre-plated on a single tray, and the flight attendants all seemed like working that flight was the last thing they wanted to be doing. Actually the same applied to all of PY’s employees at PBM. As I walked up to the business class check-in counter or when I opened the door to the business class lounge, the PY agents greeted me with a look of “Oh great, here comes another passenger that I have to deal with.” All in all it was an ok 8-hour flight. KLM also serves the route, and while KL’s business class product is much more state-of-the-art, it’s also significantly more expensive. Normally it’s about $800 more, but on the dates I was traveling KL’s J class fare was well over double PY’s J class fare.

    One other odd thing about PBM (and CAY for that matter) is how few flights there are. When I arrived in CAY (on the evening AF flight from FDF) the AF flight was the only flight arriving or departing from the airport. Other than that flight, the entire airport was deserted. Same experience departing CAY on Saturday morning, as the PY flight (which was flying BEL-CAY-PBM) was the only flight arriving at or departing from PBM all morning. Same experience arriving in PBM. Same experience departing PBM.

  45. Per this article, TUI fly their own 787s AND codeshare with Surinam airways on their A340.

  46. @DKB
    I was thinking about the same. Tenerife – Caracas route is around 800 Euro OW in Business.

  47. Ok then. If I’m going to fly across a lot and lot of water on an obscure airline on a 20 year old airframe mostly maintained previously in China then I’m choosing an A340 every time- a proud record of zero fatalities so far, just sayin……

  48. Please be aware that if you fly to PMB via Guyana, French Guiana, or Trinidad, you need to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate to board the flight to PMB, which is enforced more strictly by Surinam Airways than by the Border Agents! In addition, French Guiana required a Yellow Fever certificate upon entry regardless of where you are flying in from, even the USA. I flew Surinam Airways from MIA to GEO to PMB and a huge number of passengers were denied boarding, as the rules had recently changed (previously one only needed a Yellow Fever vaccination if you spend longer than a week in Guyana). This left a lot of people in a bind, as A) it wasn’t publicized well, and B) the policy went into effect with one week warning, yet a Yellow Fever vaccine takes 10 days before it is valid! So research carefully if you travel to this region!

  49. Azul and Gol fly from Brazilian cities into Cayenne and Paramaribo. Maybe you can combine a visit to North/Northeast Brazil and them travel into Suriname and French Guyana.

  50. If you’re willing to try, Joon has a flight between Paris and Fortaleza (Northeast Brazil) and from Fortaleza you can go to Cayenne… just an idea

  51. Wow a long haul trip report on Joon. That would be amazing
    A “ millennial “ airline. Lol.
    Go for it Ben

  52. Lucky, few tips if you’re considering flying to VVI:

    1. Be mindful that the airport has very basic amenities, so you’ll have to leave if you plan on staying at a hotel (there are one or two immediately outside, 10 minutes taxi drive).

    2. If you consider going into town, they have a few new chain hotels that just opened up in the last 2-3 years, including: Marriott, Radisson, Hampton (which is much better than US Hamptons, but still a business hotel). Much like to Hampton, there other town hotels are new, very nice, but more business-focused.

    3. Regarding #2, most of these hotels can arrange taxi pickup.

    3. Santa Cruz is a nice town, but overall not extremely touristy. There are a few locations that merit a visit (primarily the UNESCO sanctioned Jesuit Missions 3 hours east of the city), but they require at least 2 days to enjoy the visit.

    4. I believe that as a US citizen, you may require an entry visa, so look into that. Then again, with your German passport you should be OK.

    5. People are very welcoming in SCZ, food is great, I’d recommend staying a day to go into the Spanish colonial downtown, and lots of people speak English!

    Big fan here, I’ve followed your blog for several years now. I’m a local crucenho (Santa Cruz native), anything you need to plan your trip please shoot me an email. Unfortunately, I don’t like in SCZ currently (IAH is my home).

  53. When I went, I took the island hopper on Air France from Miami to Cayenne. From there, I crossed the pirahna-infested Moroni river in a dugout canoe while drugged up on Malarone to guard against the malaria endemic to the region, checked into Customs with the highly skeptical Suriname Army, and then negotiated for an hour with the “taxi” driver to take me to Paramaribo. Part of the journey involved the guy showing me off to all of his friends in town before hitting the highway, one of the worst stretches of road (if you can call it that) I have ever experienced.

    It. Was. Awesome. Would do, highly recommend. Go to Brownsweg, totally worth it. I backpacked through rainforest and got completely drenched but it’s possible I might have seen a puma in the wild.

  54. Hi,

    I am from Surinam and there are flights from Surinam straight to Miami. What you can do is….go fisrt to Bolivia and after that come yo Surinam through Curacao or Aruba and then take a one way flight to Amsterdam with the SLM (Surinam Airways). You do have cheaper flights. Economy are $800-900. Business i don’t know exactly.

  55. Most citizens can also get the visa (tourist card) upon arrival at PBM with USD or Euros. The counter is just before passport control, but make sure you get off the plane before too many people or you might wait a while.

  56. If you’re flying into Paramaribo from Georgetown, Guyana, there are two options:

    1. Fly between the inconveniently located main airports (GEO and PBM).
    2. Fly between the centrally located secondary airports (OGL and ORG).

    It is no longer possible to get the Suriname tourist card upon arrival at the Zorg En Hoop (ORG) airport, so you either need to fly the inconvenient GEO-PBM route and purchase a tourist card upon arrival or apply for the tourist card in advance from the Surinamese embassy.

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