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Getting out of St. Thomas!

alabama
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34 posts
6 reviews
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Getting out of St. Thomas!

Well, we are back after 7 days in Beautiful St. Thomas. Our family of 6 stayed in one of the Ritz club residencies and it was awesome. I felt well prepared after studying the boards and really everything went well with the exception of LEAVING!!! Ha!

I did a search, got bill's list, etc. but we were unprepared with the leaving part. No one gave hints about getting a porter at the airport! Luckily, a kind person put a bug in our ears at the airport and saved us a HUGE hassel.

When they tell you to get to the airport 3 hours ahead on a Saturday, believe them. It was very "wild'. Our plane departed @ 4pm and we got there promply @ 1pm-the line for customs wrapped around the building! Yikes! After checking in @ Delta (the line there was 1 hr.) we started dragging all of our luggage to get at the end of the line for customs. Outside in the sun and heat. We honestly did not know about the "porter" deal but was told to us in a whisper by the Delta person.

Here is the deal in case someone out there is as clueless as we were!

Pay a porter $$$ (I don't think there is a set amount but just how desperate you are) Because we had a 17 mo. old, we were pretty desperate NOT to stand in the sun for 2 hours.

The porter then takes your luggage on a cart and you follow him/her to another line inside out of the sun. You then wait in this line to go in a room where customs check you out.

We were put ahead of all of the other poor souls that had waited outside for hours. I really felt bad. We got alot of nasty stares!!!

Then, when you get to the security line, our porter asked for more $$$! We ended up giving him $75.00 but at this point, what do you say??? Some people we talked to on the plane said that they waited in the outside line for 3 hours. I really think that some people did not make the flight even though we took off almost an hour late.

I think if we had been a little more prepared, it would have been a little more tolerable.

Was this an unusual day???

Pia
St John, VI
Destination Expert
for St. John
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4,660 posts
1 review
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1. Re: Getting out of St. Thomas!

Saturday is the worst day to travel - the highest number of villa and hotel turn overs happen on Saturday and the airport is a zoo between (approx) 11:30am - 3pm as the majority of flights leave between 2pm and 4:30pm so everyone shows up 2-2 1/2 hours before !!!!

Pia

Syosset, New York
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2,472 posts
4 reviews
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2. Re: Getting out of St. Thomas!

i think my parents give $2-5 per bag plus a little extra tip at the end for all of the help...all in all i think they give him/her $30-40 (that is b/c we have 7 people and 1-2 of them are usually in wheelchairs and so they also help with that)...also our flight is at 1:40 and we usually get there by no later then 10...there are no lines but we still get a porter regardless....but we always go back home during the week b/c it is less crowded...we are going back in 20 days to be exact for 2 1/2 weeks...ill look out for this chaos but i go there on a monday and come home on a weds so it is going to be less crowded...but who cares...im in paradise :-)

Helen

Dallas, TX
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40 posts
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3. Re: Getting out of St. Thomas!

I wonder how the airport will be on a Tuesday? Do you think we should follow these guidelines as well?

alabama
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34 posts
6 reviews
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4. Re: Getting out of St. Thomas!

If I knew then what I know now, I would travel/book on another day besides Saturday. BUT...if a frog had wings, etc.! The condo we rented was on a Sat. to Sat. rental. We would go back but I would find something that rents during the weekdays and avoid the airport on Saturday. Good luck!

Syosset, New York
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2,472 posts
4 reviews
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5. Re: Getting out of St. Thomas!

yes you should b/c the summer time you have all of the families down there which means more crowds...

Chantilly, VA
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41 posts
1 review
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6. Re: Getting out of St. Thomas!

We travelled to STT on a Monday, arrived with a medium sized crowd, not too bad.

We left STT on a Tuesday, our flight was @2:55, we arrived at the airport @11:45. I dropped my husband, son & all the luggage off at the AA ticket counter, drove out of the departing terminal to return the car, walked (3 minutes) to the ticket counter and waited oh, 3 minutes to get checked in. It wasn't crowded at all, & we arrived 3 hours early. Didn't want to end up rushing in with security and all.

We Did get a porter to lug all of our 5 check in baggage, paid him $10 after it was placed on the security belt. I'm thinking $2 / bag. It was pretty decent & the lady at the AA check-in counting mentioned something like $2/bag as well. The porter actually ASKED me how much I was giving him. I was taken aback that he even asked. He was very OK with us giving him $10 for 5 bags.

HTH

Pia
St John, VI
Destination Expert
for St. John
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4,660 posts
1 review
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7. Re: Getting out of St. Thomas!

Wow, I travel alot on the AA 8:30am flight, and when I arrived at the airport recently at 6:50am (late I know but the first ferry is at 6:00am from STJ) I was shocked at how many people were there - usually it is an almost empty line and never a problem so this time it came as a surprise - so I used the porter (love them :) ) and gave $20.00 for my 1 bag. I called hubby and said it was the best $20.00 I ever spent :) I am surprised that he didn't say something to you for $10.00 for 5 bags - I just recently read on the "other" forum that a couple with children paid $75.00 - you had a bargin (or a "rookie" porter) LOL

Luv ya

Pia

Fulshear, Texas
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52 posts
36 reviews
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8. Re: Getting out of St. Thomas!

We flew home last week and did not realize how busy the airport would be and how much time it would take to check in and return the rental car. We did not know the "secret" about the porter but we tracked one down because we had too many bags to carry with two small children in tow. He was great and held the bags while we checked in at Delta. Then he brought us inside and waited while we went through customs. Then after that, he brought us up to the front of the line to get through security. He asked to be paid right there and then he took all of our bags and put them though the machines and we were done. He said the rate is $2 per bag, plus a tip. I only had $14 in cash (we had five bags, one booster seat, and two boxes of alcohol). He accepted that and seemed o.k. with it. If I would have known ahead of time, I would have been more prepared. Definintely get the porter!!!!!!!

The man on the plane next to me said that Saturday is the busiest day.

Charlotte Amalie...
Level Contributor
676 posts
45 reviews
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9. Re: Getting out of St. Thomas!

$75 is a bit much but if you are happy I am sure the porter was too! When you grab one at AA they even go to the front of the AA line and check you in! Sort of some kind of unwritten rule.

Saturdays is truly a mess. I have been there and witnessed the long lines. Most blame it on the inability of the Customs people to provide enough agents to process the mass of people. It's really a shame to end your vacation that way. Most all villas and timeshares and charter boats all are Saturday to Saturday. They really, even for their own sake, should start staggering the days.

RL

Pia
St John, VI
Destination Expert
for St. John
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4,660 posts
1 review
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10. Re: Getting out of St. Thomas!

I agree $75 was waayyy too much, thank goodness it was not me (I only paid $20 and it was my choice as I am not the most patient person in the world, but next time I will probably give $10 and that is for my one bag - I don't think they would help me for $2.00 LOL)

I look at the "Porter" service as no different to the "curbside check in" in the States - they too check you in and give you your boarding pass thus not having to stand in line at the counter, and they take your luggage from you - the only difference is we have to clear Customs.

Pia