Air Travel
Boston to Beef Island Tortola
Getting There Is NOT Half The Fun

Updated November 2004

Before my trip I was worried about our air connection in San Juan on the way to EIS (Beef Island, Tortola).

As it turns out I was right in having concerns. Maybe others will benefit from my experiences.

My first mistake was in trying to save a few bucks by booking our flight from SJU to EIS directly with Caribbean Sun rather than using some place in the US who could have had the tickets issued to us in advance. When your entire trip is not on the same booking:

  1. You get a lower baggage allowance from Caribbean Sun. In our case this didn't matter.

  2. If you miss your connection, the airline has no responsibility in putting you up for the night, or finding you another flight. In that we (by the skin of our teeth) made our connection, this issue didn't come up, but it very well could have.

  3. When I booked direct with Caribbean Sun, they told me I had to pick up my tickets at the CS ticket counter at SJU. At the time, I didn't realize the implications of this operation.
When we first booked our flights, the time between flights at SJU was supposed to be 1:30. As it turns out, this was the minimum time needed to accomplish the task without EXTREME stress.

A week before our trip we happened to check the American Airlines web site to find out our flight from Boston to San Juan was now scheduled to depart 17 minutes later. AA Never notified us of this change even though I booked it on-line and they had my email address. This now put our connection into the questionable area.

On the actual flight out of Boston, we were late in departure. By the time we landed at SJU, we had 55 minutes between flights. This put us into a situation where it was nearly impossible to make the connection.

SJU may not be a really large airport by some US standards, but I'm guessing it's over a quarter of a mile end to end. I know this because I sprinted it 3 times.

To get from the AA gate to the CS ticket counter means going the FULL length of the airport and going up or down a level.

I left my wife to get the luggage and I sprinted (out of security) and through the airport. I had to stop 3 or 4 times to ask directions. At each stop, people were able to point me in the right direction, but not tell me exactly where to go.

When I arrived at the CS ticket counter, I was told it was too late and the flight was closed (whatever closed means). I convinced them to try to get us on.

I am then told, that they can not issue the tickets without having our baggage to check and having my wife's passport (which she still had).

So I now run through the airport trying to get to the AA baggage claim to find my wife. Again having to get directions several points along the way. I have to go through security again. I later realize that they should have not let me through security because I didn't have a new ticket or boarding pass, but they didn't examine my old boarding pass close enough to stop me.

I finally make it to the baggage claim (totally out of breath) where my wife had just gotten the last of our bags and a porter.

We then go out through security into an elevator. When we exit the elevator, and I know where I am from my previous run, I run ahead to the CS counter with my wife's passport.

They ask where my wife and baggage are. I tell them they are right behind me. They finally start issuing the tickets when I can look down the long hall and point to them coming.

They also call ahead to have the flight held for us.

I have to say here that Caribbean Sun really went out of their way to help us at this point.

One of the ticket agents RAN with us through the airport and through security (again) to the gate. Without this escort (which got us through security in record time), we would have never made it.

We did make the flight, and the ticket agent who ran the length of the airport with us refused to take the tip I offered.

In conclusion, unless everyone in your group can do a 5 minute mile with carry-on luggage in tow, don't attempt what we did.

The trip home was a piece of cake. Just outside of US Customs, American Airlines had agents to take and check in our luggage, so we never had to exit out of security and back in, and we were only a normal airport walk to our AA gate.