American wants you at the airport 4 hours early

It's always a huge PITA to get out of the St.Thomas airport, right?  Well, it's going to get more painful.

Traveler American Airlines
this week issued a notice saying it recommends passengers departing the USVI check in at the baggage counter "at least (4) four hours prior to scheduled departure." 

And if you're not there early, you may really be out of luck because, says AA, "All flights … out of St. Thomas will close for check-in … 60 minutes before any departure."  It sounds like, "If your bags don't have tags an hour ahead, you're staying in STT for the night."

Someone leaving on American's flight for Miami at 11:20 a.m., and staying on St. John, is going to have to get the 6 a.m. ferry and pray. The rest of us will have to pray that US Airways, Delta, Continental, and United Airlines don't follow the lead of American.

Download AA release here.

St. John's Accommodations Council members were surprised by American's new policy statement, some wondering if the Department of Tourism may get involved.  After all, having to be at the airport clearly puts the islands at a disadvantage with tourists.

22 thoughts on “American wants you at the airport 4 hours early”

  1. The lines to the ticketing agents are the slowest part. If you print out your boarding passes at home (or villa), you go directly to the baggage check line. Judging from many past experiences, a 2 hour lead time should be plenty if you just have carry-on.

  2. Ya. See you there at 3:00 AM for the 7:05 Eagle to PR. Especially when customs personnel shuffle in around 6:27.
    I truly wish American didn’t have a stranglehold on the Caribbean. I’ve had friends denied boarding after standing in line for over an hour. Once you get up to little Ms. Pleasant, she thrives on saying “you’re too late.” Not all of them, but there’s a couple. Try TELLING them you’ve been there for over an hour and you’re going to miss your flight. Then things go from bad to worse. Big help with flagging tourism. Why? All I see as a result is HUGE crowds starting at 6:00 AM and lasting all day. Now I’ve got to call friends at the Westin, who depart early tomorrow, and WARN them about American.

  3. Oh, and just let these idjits deny boarding to a few dozen tourists. See what happens. Stand back and watch the “fun” at the ticket counter.

  4. We were denied boarding last year by AA because they needed to collect their $15 for bags – almost ruined our vacation. Likely we spent another 3 days on STJ and the Westin put us up for free (they got us to the airport late due to a ferry problem).
    I will never fly AA again if I can avoid it.

  5. How about just boycotting American. I come to STJ a lot and over the years have learned to avoid American Airlines at all costs. This just gives everyone one more reason NOT to fly them.

  6. Get over it.
    The AA release simply “recommends” the 4 hour lead time, but like MANY airports, only requires 60 minutes. Plus we all know that you complainers are the ones who shop out the cheapest ticket anyway so go ahead, boycott, I dare you to pay more to prove a point to yourself. Maybe then I can sit next to those of you who are pleasant and have learned the greatest gift that St John gives; respect. The STT airport in my oppinion is one of the easiest to deal with; i mean what I am I missing that has you all in such a tissy. 7 gates, no crazy long walks no terminal changes no trams no crowds. Where would you rather be JFK walking outside in the snow between terminals in a construction zone breathing pollution. Like Bill said above, be prepared and get there on time. Just be kind, I know it can be hard for you northerners, but try it and I would bet that you get to get on your flight.

  7. We are arriving in st. john on may 14, and was alittle nervous about this latest news article…
    but we called american airlines, and they knew nothing about it.
    sounds like its coming from the st. thomas airport, instead of aa.
    i think 2 hours should be plenty!

  8. No big deal – check in online and carryon only. We’ll get there 90 minutes before take off and still have time to enjoy that fish in a bowl feeling.
    Cheers RickG

  9. We go to St John every year, and have been for years. We know that it’s important to be pleasant, but in the St Thomas airport at the AA ticket counters there are quite a few people working there who should learn the same, how to be pleasant back, rather than being on some kind of power trip, two years ago it was so bad, that we went to a different island the following year…

  10. We flew Spirit Air in the fall and it was a pleasure. no long lines, great customer service and no issues with checking baggage. They fly direct from DC too, which makes it nice.

  11. We have been traveling to St John for many years. The way to get around the long lines at St Thomas Airport when leaving is to hire the services of a porter. They get your ticket right away without having to wait in line!!

  12. We fly Continental. The seven of us are due in May 10th for two full weeks.
    Our one attempt to use American Eagle to get to BVI stranded us in Puerto Rico for a day and a half, due to “volcano dust.” We’ll never repeat that mistake again.

  13. Stay overnight at Best Western carib Resort or Emerald Beach resort. There are substantial improvements at both properties including tripling of security personnel. This is where I stay after business travel on st john, st croix etc….this way i get a great night’s sleep and decent brealfast before flying…. takes less than 10 minutes to get over to airport!
    I take first flight out to san juan via seaboren, visit old san juan for the day and take early evening cheap flight back to new york…then stay over in “the village” at washington square hotel (across from from mario battli’s restaurant) …..then get cheap comuter flight to boston next day. I do this every 2 months. Great business trip and tax write off 🙂 peaceful.
    ps call emerald beach reservations and tell them you are a local and want locals rate…usually $129.

  14. For our wedding in October 2008, we booked AA tickets from Newark to PR to STT and flying back the same route. The we were changed to Newark to Miami to STT (since PR or AA dropped a bunch of their flights going to or coming from PR) with the same route back….and then once again, only this time we were flying from Newark to Miami to STT and arriving there at like 11 PM at night and our returning flight was changed to STT to Miami to Chicago then to Newark…a 20 hour flight schedule and leaving at 8:45 AM in the morning, meaning we would either A) have to take the 6AM ferry and hope, or B) stay on STT the night before we left….needless to say we cancelled those tickets and went with Spirit and even got upgraded seats (YAY!). American Airlines can go rot for all I care….and I’m sure they get a bailout again when they go bankrupt from being stupid.

  15. We have been travelling from Newark International Airport in NJ into St. Thomas, NON-STOP, with Continental Airlines for years, and have had no problems. We then take the ferry to St. John, and stay at Serendip Condominiums, which is “Paradise”, with one of the best water views on the island, and close to all the action in Cruz Bay, and close to the beaches. Views of Rainbows, and “Double Rainbows” very often!!

  16. We got to the airport a few hours early to fly back … a family group w/flts. on United and Continental. The United group were able to check right in at 10:30. I was flying Continental and had to wait for workers to show up at 11:45 … which was a pain. Especially as the original porter did not come back for me as promised. However, the good news was that my Continental flt left STT one-half hour early and arrived at EWR one-half hour early. Everyone behind me in the Continental check-in line was upset … saying they could have stayed at their hotel/condo for longer. The self-service machines do not even turn on until 11:45. Other than the check-in issue at STT Continental non-stop between EWR and STT was a breeze.

  17. I am a part-time resident of St. John, flying in and out of St. Thomas 6-8 times a year. While an admitted lover of AA, I have never had a problem catching the 6 am ferry on St. John and making the 7:45 am flight to Miami. I print my boarding pass at the self-service machines and travel with carry-on bags. I know I’ve been incredibly lucky not to have missed any flights in the past but recognize things do happen wherever you’re flying to or from.

  18. We arrived at STT airport 2.5 hours early leaving STJ in February and there was hardly anyone in line ahead of us but we stood for 1.5 hours while confusion reigned at the ticketing counter. (USAIR but I doubt the airline matters) And then they let people shove ahead of others in line with no regard for people who had been waiting. My husband was so furious it was a blot on our otherwise awesome vacation. Had we known, we would have printed out our boarding passes prior to leaving STJ – I guess having to pay somewhere to do it because no printer in the villa – it would have been worth it! STT airport (departure) has been the worst we’ve experienced in the Carib.

  19. American Eagle !!! they are always making excuses. They cancelled flights out of St. thomas to San Juan and they dont care if they leave people stranded at the airport for hours. If they continue with this horrible service their empire in St. Thomas will fall ….To give an idea we are always traveling from Sju to Stt and our return flight is has been always cancelled due to maintanance ???Pure Bull ….Dont believe them

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