AA’s Debbie Mahan e-mailed a News of St. John reader saying, “In looking at our Web site, aa.com, it states … "(for) flights departing Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands, recommended check-in time is at least two hours prior to scheduled departure.” (It also says the baggage acceptance cut-off time is one hour.)
In other words, the “four hour” announcement about 11 days ago is not official airline policy. But, it is also not without reason.
Anyone who’s gone through check-in, Customs, and then TSA/Baggage screening at STT knows it’s a nightmare. Random searches of carry-ons and suitcases sure can gum up the works. (Here’s the TSA list of what’s not allowed in your checked baggage and which can set off alarms and stop the process.)
TSA is working in a fairly confined space with just a few X-Ray machines. The work area can easily get inundated because so many flights bound for the mainland have scheduled departures between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. The Inquiring Iguana has been told a ‘significant number” of pieces of luggage have been left behind as a result of such baggage screening crunches, insuring VI-vacationers arrive at their home airport with more than the glow of their tan wearing off after what may have been a great vacation.
The VI Tourism department, although publicly silent about the local American statement, has been talking with AA corporate about what the VI Port Authority can do to make leaving paradise less stressful.