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St. Martin Airport: Rude, Incompetent, and Lazy…

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This is not completely fair. There were some very helpful people at the airport – they were the exceptions who proved the rule. The problem is, the people who work at the airport don’t work for the individual airlines – they work for the government. As government employees, they have job security and don’t care about their own performance. Also, most people use St. Martin simply to change planes. Therefore, the airport workers have no vested interest in seeing that you make your connecting flight (all of which stop at dark). To them, if worse comes to worst, you have to spend the night (and some of your money) on their island.

I never had trouble with the old airport. True, it was dirty and run-down, but it never took any time to go through immigration, get my bags, and make my connecting flight. I used to spend most of my time sitting around. NOW, even though most airlines require you book a two-hour break between flights, THAT IS NOT ENOUGH TIME TO GET THROUGH THE AIRPORT. Coming through immigration and getting your bags can last over an hour, and so can checking into your next flight and going through security again. Not to mention the fact that your main airline probably delayed you so that you arrived in St. Martin late. When you finally make it to the Winair counter, the representative (who works for the airport and NOT Winair) will probably bark at you: “You’re late – you missed your flight!” (At this point, bribery helps.)

This has become such a problem that this year, St. Barths has been offering a “VIP” service for connecting flights. It costs about 280 Euro but it is worth it. The only thing is, you MUST be pushy when you arrive in St. Martin. Demand to see your VIP representative (get a name) – otherwise they will force you to go through the regular procedures. The VIP service will expedite you through security, check you in on your next flight, and transfer your bags without your needing to touch them. This is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity. You will miss your connection otherwise.

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