Extortion at St Thomas airport?

Apr 4th, 2005, 02:05 PM
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Extortion at St Thomas airport?

I just wondered if anyone else has had this experience recently. Two weeks ago while trying to get out of STT due to a death in the family which cut our spring break short, we were charged $2 per bag by a porter to carry our bags from the curb at STT to the ticket counter (all of about 35 feet). Admittedly we had 6 bags (we were stepping off of a Celbrity cruise) and they were large, still in all of my travel on 5 continents I have never once been told that there was a set price for baggage handling. The porter even tried to charge $2 for my backpack and $2 for my wife's purse even though she did not carry those the entire 35 feet, we just rested those on the cart once the cart arrived at the ticket counter. "We charge $2 a bag for handling" were her exact words. I didn't know that what I was buying and probably should have asked. We paid but I was not happy.

Am I out of touch or is this something that's unique to STT? We were already anxious due to our need to come home early and this incident added further insult to a difficult day.
RandyK is offline  
Apr 4th, 2005, 02:15 PM
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Sorry to hear that you had to cut your vacation short.

Paying for a porter to handle your bags curbside isn't unique to STT. Check in curbside at any US airport (even carrying the bags yourself) the norm is $1 per bag. Same thing at any US hotel with bell service. To me when I need the helping hand I'm glad to pay a few $$ for the help, especially for large bags.
J62 is online now  
Apr 4th, 2005, 04:41 PM
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j62, i think you miss the point of randy's post. we are all accustomed to tipping baggage handlers. whether at the airport, hotel, whereever. and i agree with you that when i use them it is because i need the help and am happy to tip. i once tipped $3 per bag because i had gotten very helpful service. but to be charged at set fee is not the same thing at all.
randy, i am sorry your trip was shortened for bereavement. from your post i presume you were not told of this fee in advance? no signs posted? really this does not seem right.
i am flying into stt in june and will be curious to see if i get the same treatment. i understand your feelings entirely. problem was not paying but being charged by surprise.
virginia is offline  
Apr 5th, 2005, 01:33 PM
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No Virginia, it is you who has got it wrong. If a porter takes your bag he should be tipped. The reason they charge a set fee is because there are people out there who think tip is a city in china.

Peace, Greenie
greenie is offline  
Apr 5th, 2005, 01:47 PM
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It's tipping. Some people thing tipping is a city in China. Everyone should tip, but I don't know if I'd like someone to tell me up front what their tip should be and refuse service otherwise. Also, I'm not tipping anyone on my purse just 'cause I set in on a cart.
Kath is offline  
Apr 5th, 2005, 04:16 PM
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Whenever I use a porter, I tip $1 per bag...but I have NEVER been ripped off like Randy got ripped off in Stt..

I have never had a set rate for bags either..I think, personally, he got taken...As TIPPING is supposed to be just that...a TIP...

There was a recent article in a national magazine ( I cannot remember which one) that listed what you should tip and to whom...FOR SUITCASES, they listed $1 per bag...

I also use a porter for wheelchair assist...normally I tip $5 plus my baggage...IF I have the porter wait, get my pickup bags and wait with me to get a rental car, then I tip $20 as I feel I am taking him out of the tip line for picking up someone else's luggage..

IF STT has a set rate of $2 per bag, IT SHOULD BE POSTED !!!
andy is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 03:43 AM
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My guess is that the porter is tired of getting stiffed by the cheap folks who don't tip at all and has decided to take the bull by the horns and tell people what he wants.

If you did not want to pay $2 per bag, you should have just said, "NO," and handed him what you thought was fair. (I DO however, understand traveling and the stress and being tired, and I probably would have just paid it too and gone on.)

Perhaps someone will say that it's ridiculous and ask to speak to a manager. My guess is that those jobs are hard to come by - as are all jobs there.

I agree that he should not have done it. I also have had a crappy cheap job where I worked for tips and got very sick of people in business suits leaving me $1 on a $50 tab.

St Thomas is a "different" kind of destination, and this type of behavior on the part of a porter does not help an already less-than-stellar rep that the island has.

Knowing what we do about the region, we usually just go ahead and pay out the nose for stuff and consider it a form of generosity to people who usually have things pretty tough.
Diana is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 11:13 AM
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Just to clarify, I offered the porter $1 per bag---that's when she told me that the charge is $2 per bag. Further insult to injury, we then had to take our bags with us to clear security before the bags were checked through for us. I hate to think what that would have cost!
RandyK is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 03:10 PM
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Sounds fishy to me. They should be tipped but unless they have documenttation of this policy I would give no less that $1.00 per bag but certainly not $2.00. Afterall w/o proof she can say anything she wants.
jacketwatch is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 03:47 PM
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I guess I just don't get it. I've never let a grand total of $6 ruin my day, let alone a whole vacation. Sure, I understand the point, but to argue that there was no 'proof' (beyond a resonable doubt, Mr. Johnny Cochran?) that $2 was the norm then how dare she..... well you get it.

How many of you tip the maid on the cruise ship or in your hotel? How many of you figure out that 15% of a $5 diner tab is only 75c so you dig in your pocket for quarters or do you just leave a $1?

If you'd handed her a $20 and said "thank you" she might have even helped you to the TSA xray machine with your bags. Or maybe not. $6? But you'll happily shell out $2.50 at Starbucks no questions asked? Do you think she went home that night and talked to her friends about the traveller she saw today and couldn't afford $6?

Either way, kindness and genersosity start at home. There's an old expression my mother taught me many years ago "but for the grace of God there go I". I'm thankful I've been blessed.

OK, I'm off my soapbox. Let me have it if you wish.

J62 is online now  
Apr 6th, 2005, 04:20 PM
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Get over it. If you don't want to pay the porter carry your own bags. I doubt if the porter will ever be able to go on a nice 7 day cruise like you were able to.
Curt is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 04:58 PM
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This is not unique to St Thomas - being a porter is their job. As a PP said, if you dont want them to carry your bags then dont have to let them. I have seen this on many islands, not just St Thomas. and I just carry my bags myself if I dont want them to help. That being said, it would be helpful if the cost was posted, but this is hardly the continental US and they dont do things the way we might think it should be done.

I do understand its frustrating, but I think its just a part of traveling different places, it does not make it right or wrong, its just the way it is.

However, I am sorry if this added to the stress of your trip!
MIM04 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 06:39 PM
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The issue is not the $. Its the feeling of being cheated which goes beyond any dollar amt. No one wants to fel conned or taken advantage of. JM2C.
jacketwatch is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 06:50 PM
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Six Bucks...Come on...If you want to feal ripped off, how about parking in NYC with money in the meter...to find your car towed. $287.00 to get it back. Thats ripped off.
You should be greatful that this "porter" at least worked for the $6.00...
JKIRBY99 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 06:51 PM
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Sorry RandyK, are you from NYC
JKIRBY99 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2005, 07:22 AM
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I am surprised that she did not take your bags all the way in thru security. That's what you were paying for! Perhaps in your reluctance to pay the price, as some do try to stiff, she just dropped them there and went about her business. This is how they eek out as living. They work for tips.
I spend a lot of time at the airport and you would be surprised at how some of the travelers carry on.
RonUSVI is offline  
Apr 8th, 2005, 03:25 AM
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I used to be a porter at the airport many years ago. 1 dollar per bag was typical back then, but (OPTIONAL) as all tips are.

These days, I feel $2 a bag is a lot more realistic. I highly doubt that there is a set price anywhere, and the porter was just tired of being stiffed. But $1 a bag is a bit out-dated in my opinion, as is 15% on a restaurant tab.

My wife & I grew up working the service industry years past, and now know just how important tips are to these hard working folks. We tip big for good service. At least 20% in restaurants, and 2-3 bucks a bag curbside.

C'mon folks, it's vacation we're talking about, a few extra bucks won't kill ya. The service industry folks are some of the hardest working people in the world with low wages. They deserve to be tipped properly, and the wages mentioned above seem very "old school". JMHO!!

Randy, I'm sorry you feel ripped off, but I'm guessing you might have much more important issues to be stressed out about. Don't sweat the small stuff, especially on vacation....
ScottB is offline  
Apr 8th, 2005, 06:54 PM
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In October I traveled from STT back to Philly after a two-week honeymoon. Needless to say we had enough bags to make me happily take the gentleman (porter) up on his offer to take my bags.
He not only patiently waited for us at the ticket counter; he took our bags through security as well, without mentioning any costs.
It was such a relief not to hassle with our bags I gladly gave him a $20. I figured after what I had already spent on the trip, it was hardly worth a second thought.

Iíve never been told what I would have to pay per bag traveling the many times from STT, as well as any other airport in the world.
Unfortunately, it sounds as if you might have just come upon someone that did not want to help you as much as they should of.
WaywardSeal is offline  
Apr 9th, 2005, 02:41 AM
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ScottB, you hit the nail on the head for me!

Get with the program people. $2 per bag (its 2005 for goodness sake!) and 20% (at least..more for good service). C'mon folks. The people in the islands make peanuts compared to the US.

$2 per bag is nothing! Look at all the added aggravation these poor souls have to put up with. Carrying your six, seven, eight, whatever godawful number of bags you bring on vacation through a crowded airport all day long...six bucks isn't much to ask for that!

And for goodness sake...tip the maids, porters, etc. Walk a mile in their shoes. People talk about bringing gifts. How about cold hard cash! I'm sure they have a hard time exchanging nailpolish for groceries! =)

Okay...rant over.. Peace, Greenie =)
greenie is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 07:14 AM
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There was a similar discussion regarding porters at an airport on another forum.
A point made there was a result of some math.
First of all I will say that I always tip at least a dollar per bag.

The scenerio here was a charge of 2.00 per bag. There were 6 bags.
Probably a good average # of bags for a party of two.
The tip was a total of 12.00.
The porter was helping people leaving a cruise ship, so it is safe to say that this porter is as busy as he wants to be for the duration of the day.
It is only a guess, but it might be safe to say that he helps perhaps 5 different parties per hour, each with 6 bags at 2.00 per bag.
That is 60.00 tax free dollars per hour.
lets say that he works 5 days per week for 7 hours per day.
You can see that I am being conservative.
420.00 per day x 5 days = 2100.00 per week.
And he might work........mmmmmm two weeks off in the Summer and maybe a little R&R in the Winter for another two weeks, so that is 48 weeks per year, comes to .............
100,800.00 tax free per year.
So even if you say that the ships don't come that often year 'round, lets divide that 100,800.00 in half, just to be conservative, and that is still 50,400.00 per year, which is still alot more than I make as do most other Americans.
Just a potential scenerio to ponder.
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