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Connecting flights in San Juan

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Dec 31st, 2006, 08:48 AM
  #1
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Connecting flights in San Juan

Help! After reading some reports of long confusing walks and missed connections to Nevis at San Juan airport, I'm really beginning to panic that I haven't allowed enough time to make connections.
American Airlines:
We're flying from Philadelphia into San Juan and connecting time allowed is only 45 miniutes.

On the return from Nevis only 1 hour and 25 minutes allowed for connecting.

Would someone be so kind and describe their experience as to what to expect upon arrival. Please pretend you are explaining what to do and where to go to
two senile people. Is everything clearly marked?
Anxiety Ridden and thankful for this forum,
Joyce
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Dec 31st, 2006, 09:13 AM
  #2
 
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I flew from Baltimore to St. Lucia on American through SJU earlier this month and did not have any trouble in the SJU airport. My connection time was longer, so I didn't pay attention to time, but the American area really isn't that large and is well marked, so I don't think you should have problems. I'm assuming your flight to Nevis will be on American Eagle. All of the AE flights are clustered at one end of the terminal (I think it is gate 1, but they use letters to further differentiate the different destinations). They run a lot of flights out of these gates, so you need to listen for when they announce yours is boarding. Then, they put everyone on buses and drive you to the plane.

The connection coming back to SJU will take longer because you will need to deal with customs, pick up and recheck your luggage, and go through security again, but you have more time for that connection.
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Dec 31st, 2006, 09:21 AM
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A 45 minute connection on your in-bound leg is barely enough time to make your flight to Nevis especially if you are not coming in to SJU on an American Airline flight (I assume from Philadelphia you are flying USAir to SJU). You'd be better off allowing more time. The 45 minutes you've allowed is from scheduled touchdown of your in-bound flight and take-off of your connecting flight. Your actual "time in the airport" will be much less. Assuming your inbound flight lands on-time you have to allow at least 15 minutes to taxi to the gate and for you to deplane. You'll need anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to walk from your arrival gate to the departure gate for the American Eagle flight. Again asuming you are fying USAIR to SJU you'll have at least a 10 minute walk to Gates 1A thru 1E (which sevice American Eagle) on the lower level of the adjacent terminal area from where you will arrive (be careful to follow the signs and stay inside the sceure area otherwise you'll never make your flight to Nevis).

The American Eagle flight to Nevis will begin boarding about 20 to 30 minutes before scheduled departure (officially it starts boarding 40 minutes prior to departure but that rearly happens). All this means that if your in-bound flight is delayed even aby a few minutes you are going to have a difficult time making your connection. The airlines recommennd at least 1 hour. I travel throug SJU often and done connections is less than and hour but it is stressful and there's always a risk. You are going to be "running" through the airport - remember "Murphy's Law" will be barking at your heels - the shorter your connecting time the more delays you'll encounter. Sorry I can't give you better news.

One other point, if you booked your flights on one "combined" ticket the airline is responsible for getting you to your destination. If, however, you booked your flights on seperate tickets (i.e. one ticket for the Philadelphia/SJU flight and a seperate ticket for the SJU/NEV flight and you miss the NEV flight it is your responsibility to get yourself to your final destination.

One your return flight 1 hour and 25 minutes should give you enough time to arrive, clear immigration and customs and make your connection back home.
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Dec 31st, 2006, 09:25 AM
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Are you on American all the way? If so, then it shouldn't be bad. I do this all the time, but not from Nevis....from St. Maarten. So, I'll try to give you my take on it.

Upon arrival from Philly into San Juan you should just have to go gate to gate. The AA terminal is not all that big so it shouldn't take much time. If you are on the Eagle going onward to Nevis, your gate will be at the farthest end of the terminal and downstairs. Once they begin boarding you will get on a shuttle bus which will take you to the aircraft. If you are on a jet, then your gate won't be as far down and you will board via a jetbridge. So, provided your flight is on time, you should be okay as long as your flight from Philly is not delayed. Being that your next flight starts boarding 15 minutes after your arrival I would hustle to the next gate, though.

On your return, you will have to go thru immigration and then customs. It depends on the time of day as to whether or not the lines will be long, but 1.5 hours should be plenty of time. Luggage can sometimes be delayed coming into customs at SJU, but I've done it easily with 1.5 hours plenty of times. After you claim your luggage, go thru customs where they will tell you which conveyor belt to put your bags on to have them rechecked to your destination.

You will then have to go thru security again (which may or may not have a long line, there again depending on the time of day), and then you will be in the gate areas.

If you have any questions on where to go there is always a gate agent available when you deplane, and you can also ask airport personnel. Also, check the departure monitors when you pass them so that you can ensure your gate is the same as you were intially told. There is nothing worse than hustling to a gate only to find out it's been changed and you have to run back the other way.

Good luck and have a great trip.
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Dec 31st, 2006, 09:28 AM
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I had a phone call as I was posting and didn't see the two posts ahead of mine. A_Traveller has good info on the Nevis connection. I agree that if you are not on AA coming in from Philly, then you will need more time. But, if you are on AA you can probably make it if you hustle and your incoming flight is not delayed
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Dec 31st, 2006, 09:40 AM
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We had 40 minutes to connect from our AA flight from Dulles to our American Eagle flight to St. Kitts. It was tight. Our luck of course put our arrival gate on one end, and Gate 1A was at the other end. Unless you are sitting upfront in 1st class, you have to alot another 10 minutes or so for the rows ahead of you to get out before you can get off the plane. We had to huff it to Gate 1A and made it just in time but it was rough.

Put on those running shoes! =)
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Dec 31st, 2006, 10:14 AM
  #7
iw
 
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The advice above is very good and detailed. It is a tricky situation and a lot of it depends on the flights landing/departing on time. The first flight with 45 minutes is tough, as we have had that amount of time before. As the previous poster said, put on your running shoes.
As for the 3nd flight, that should be sufficient time to make the connection, if, and that is a big if, (IMHO) that the flight from Nevis is on time, as ours is usually late. Keep in mind that we travel in June and deal with storms that affect flights, so this might not be an issue at this time of year.
San Juan is a great airport to go through and everything is clearly labeled. It is a much easier airport than Miami. Do look for an agent to help since they can radio ahead to the next gate or transport you there on the cart, if needed.
I hope you love Nevis as much as I do!
Don't forget to post a trip report upon your return as I will be stuck in a classroom with 7 year olds until June!
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Dec 31st, 2006, 10:40 AM
  #8
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Thank you Thank you Thank you
This forum is the best!

We will be flying American into San Juan, arriving at gate 15 for now, and connecting to American Eagle to Nevis.
I thought I was so smart booking a flight with only 45 minutes to make the connection. NOT

Guess I'll leave it and pray for the best.
Sincerely appreciate all your input.
Most thankful,
Joyce
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Dec 31st, 2006, 11:38 AM
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Since you are on American connecting to American Eagle you should be OK with the 45 minute connection assuming your in-bound flight lands on-time. Gate 15 is about a 5 to 7 minute walk from gate area 1 where you'll get the American Eagle flight. Don't dilly-dally getting off your in-bound flight and you should be reaching the departure gate just about the time they are calling your Nevis flight. Be sure to check the Flight Monitor Screens in the terminal to verify which gate your plane will be departing from. It can get pretty hectic in the American Eagle departure area (there are 5 gates (1A thru 1-E) in close proximity and each gate services multiple flights one right after the other so pay close attention to the boarding announcements and follow the gate agent's directions to avoid getting on the wrong bus.
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Dec 31st, 2006, 11:38 AM
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When you check in at Philly, explain to the agent that you have a tight connection at SJU and request seating as close to the front of the aircraft as possible. They are usually willing to do so when I ask this.

My husband has a tight connection thru SJU tomorrow and plans to do the same.
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Jan 1st, 2007, 10:13 PM
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I'm not sure if this was mentioned above but IMO it's not so much you making the connecting flight but your luggage. The last time we had a short time between flights, we made it just fine but our luggage was delayed and had showed up on a following flight.
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Jan 11th, 2007, 12:01 AM
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I have a flight from JFK to La Romana connecting in San Juan. My JFK flight arrives 11:55am and the LRM flight departs at 12:55pm. I have exactly ONE hour. This is an American Airlines schedule so I assume its a legal connection, but if my flight is even a few minutes late, I am up the creek without a paddle (i mean I may make the connection, but not my luggage.)

AA so NICELY cancelled my ORIGINAL flight which changed in MIA and I had two hours there (which I've done before with no problems)

Should I be overly concerned with the 1 hr. I have an option (I think) to change to a flight 90 minutes earlier, leaving JFK at 6:30am (so I HAVE TO GET A CAR SERVICE PICK-UP AT 4:30AM.

Thanks for your comments. Appreciate your emailing me directly as I may never find this board again - LOL!
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Jan 11th, 2007, 05:16 AM
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For the sake of your baggage I would personally opt for the earlier flight out of JFK....to be on the safe side. You and your baggage might make the filght with a 1-hour connection, but if your JFK flight is running late you might be up a creek, as you said.

I can relate to the pain of getting a car to JFK that early (I have to do it at that time every fall), but it might be worth the hassle.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 09:07 AM
  #14
 
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I think you're in trouble both directions.

Coming home will be tough even with 1:25. You have to wait for you bags when you get to San Juan and then take them through customs. Our last flight (December) we waited *one hour* just for our bags to come off the plane. The US govt does do searches and that can slow down the process.

Joyce, I think you should try to rebook your connecting flights now, regardless of cost. Do not "hope for the best". American Eagle is a nightmare to work with when you need to fly standby. Last month, AE had stranded a lot of travellers overnight in San Juan because they could not get on one of the connections.

Personally, after our last connection through San Juan I am never going through that airport again. I know this is also the mantra of many other travellers!
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Jan 12th, 2007, 06:30 PM
  #15
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Just returned from Nevis.
All your advice was right on and helpful. Somehow we made it.
The only people we encountered in Nevis who were not overly friendly were at the airport. This is a shame.
I'll take that back, as our arrival was greeted with big smiles and cold water.

The running shoes made it to our American Eagle connection to Nevis with all of 5 minutes to spare. I did not find it well marked nor any flight personnel overly interested in helping.

The return flight was not pleasant. Sheduled to leave Nevis at 3:30, it was about 4:20 when we actually left. Then a long holding pattern over San Juan.
After customs, where people were friendly, I was able to hail a young cart driver who took pity on two old people and deliver us to a waiting plane where American stewards and stewardesses greeted us with welcoming smiles. Two young 'lolitas' were trying to lure the cart driver to take them to a different gate, but he just said "these people are a lot older than you". It was a hard decision for him .

This packed flight had many sitting four across in three seats. (babies being held-God love them- they were hot, tired and crying)
Then arrival into Phila. where monitors for baggage were not showing our flight. Baggage arrived on two different conveyor belts. A mad house!

Actually we are very thankful everything worked out. The anxiety and stress mostly was due to us both having had hip surgury. We can manage fine only a LOT slower than yesteryear.
Did I mention that we LOVED Nevis?
No exciting trip report.
Can't thank you enough for your wonderful input.
People on this board are the best!
Joyce

Question- In Nevis, several couples were eating fruit and snacks they had brought with them. Security appeared quite thorough. I didn't think you could bring this into the secure area.
Ditched my apple before entering security check so I was jealous.




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Jan 12th, 2007, 07:46 PM
  #16
 
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Joyce, We've only been to Nevis once, but we've connected through SJU for other trips. Our trip to Nevis was in June 2005. We also had tight connections (50 min. going & 2 hrs. coming home), and we had our two children (just 6 and almost 3) with us. Our flight originated in Chicago, and we had no problems connecting (both going there and returning home).

The advice given here is good. We were flying American, so as others stated, this probably made the American Eagle connection much easier. I will say that we don't care for the San Juan airport, and we now try to avoid it at all costs. (Skipped SJU altogether and went through St. Maarten for Anguilla last year.) We've never missed a connection there, but the restaurant choices and restroom cleanliness leave a lot to be desired. My husband and I are fine, but we find that our children either refuse to eat there (places like Domino's pizza, etc.) and they shun the bathrooms because they are so dirty. It's helpful to carry sanitizing wipes, especially if you're traveling with a baby and need to clean the surface before putting your changing pad down. Carry some tissues in your purse because I can never find a stall with any toilet paper there. Again, these are minor annoyances for adults, but they can be challenging when traveling with little ones. We've never experienced any problems with unfriendly staff at SJU. The folks we've encountered have always been very helpful about pointing us in the right direction.

If you're staying at the Four Seasons, get the boxed lunches that they offer for your return trip home. The Nevis airport has nothing in terms of snacks. SJU doesn't have any decent options, so those boxed lunches and water bottles hit the spot.

If we had time to take our children to the restroom, grab a snack, and make the connection, then I know you can do it. We absolutely loved Nevis. Relax and enjoy your trip!
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Jan 23rd, 2007, 12:47 PM
  #17
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Again thanks
I'm already exploring ways to go back next year!

Actually, San Juan didn't seem too bad-just very LONG walks in a very short time.
Joyce
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