Extortion at St Thomas airport?

Apr 15th, 2005, 07:13 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I appreciate the comments here. I was not leaving the ship at the dock, I was at curbside check-in for at the airport. The porter carried the bags all of 35 feet. We carried our bags the remaining 100+ feet to and through the security check point. There was no delay in my paying what the porter had requested, I handed the money over promptly.

j62-It's interesting that you calculate a tip for a waiter using 15%. Your message implies that I'm somehow cheap. I haven't left a 15% tip for a hard working server in 20 years. 20% is the standard, more when the service is exceptional. I left the cruise 4 days early due to my dad's death and wasn't in a mood to dispute or otherwise have to deal with this.

I've always tipped cruise staff (don't want to ever be on a ship that has a no-tipping policy) and never stay a night in a hotel room without leaving something for the housekeeper. This incident just irked me and was one more negative in an already rotten day.
RandyK is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2005, 06:27 AM
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What I don't get is why we call all these fees "TIPS." Maybe we need to start calling them FEES for specific services. The end
Incognito is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2005, 01:24 PM
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Two bucks a bag is the norm for tipping the porters in the big cities I've been in..Chicago, New York, etc. Thirty five feet or thirty five hundred feet, it doesn't matter, they are performing a service for you..I am glad they are there for me and glad to pay them a couple bucks extra over the usual $2 fee if the distance is far..a $1 per bag? come on.. maybe prior to the 1980's, and always, always tip your hotel maid..I usually leave $5 per day on the bathroom counter and a note with it the first day stating their tip will be in this spot..be generous..life is too short and life is too hard for a lot of people in this world..make their day a little easier..and always smile
Quizno is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2005, 04:47 PM
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Last reply was kind and compassionate and mature .
faithie is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 04:02 AM
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When we get on the ferry from Anguilla to St. Martin, a porter always takes our suitcases, and the standard rate is always $ 2 per suitcase.
Carola22 is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 06:23 AM
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Many yrs ago as a young inexperienced traveler I vacationed in the Bahamas. Literature and other travelers suggested visiting the Straw Market, so I did. Some info suggested haggling with vendors for a decent price on the goods offered so I tried.
Did I get a decent price on the article I intended to buy? Probably not. What I did receive was a lesson well learned. When I started to barter this older vendor looked me square in the face and said " Lady you can afford to come to the Bahamas yet you will argue with me over a difference of a few dollars? This is how I make my living." I thought for a minute and she was right. From that time on I became a much more conscientious traveler.
Same thing goes for waitstaff. I never worked the service industry as a teenager but all 4 of my nieces have. The horror stories they have to tell of how customers have treated them, run out on checks, and certainly the amount of tip left after they busted butt providing service. It wasn't just about the amt left but the attitude and lack of manners by those same patrons. I always thought I happened to be a pretty good tipper, found out in reality I was only average. They gave me a whole new appreciation for the industry.
I could be wrong but I believe on certain islands there is a union for porters in the airports. This may account for a set fee when assisted with baggage.
vinceygirl is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 08:41 AM
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Thanks, once again, for your thoughtful response to a *trigger* post.

My philosophy of tipping when I travel, whether in the US or outside of the country, is to think of the *whole picture*. If I'm lucky enough to afford to travel, why would I start pinching pennies or dollars with people who are contributing to my enjoyment of a vacation. That includes taxi drivers, porters, housekeeping staff and certainly waitstaff.

I may sound like Pollyanna, but I just think we need to wear the other person's shoes and think about being thankful and aim for generosity


MarionCK is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 09:56 AM
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I so agree with you. When we travel everyone who helps us or contributes to our enjoyment of holiday through their work gets a very generous tip. (Although, I must admit that, knowing STT airport and the distances involved, we would likely say "no thanks" to the porter for a 35 foot carry, knowing we'd have to then schlep the bags another 100 or so feet ourselves. Which is why all our luggage is extremely light-weight and on wheels).

One of my pet peeves from our last trip to the BVI involved tipping (or lack thereof). During our week on Tortola, we spent happy hour almost every day at Bananakeet Cafe to enjoy a frozen drink or two and watch the sun go down over the sea. This is an amazing location high on the hills over Carrot Bay with views to die for, great eats and drinks and superb service. Magical. To make it beyond perfect a local steel pan duo (Clem's Steel Pan Vibes) plays steel pan calypso during happy hour each day. Did I say magical? They have a tip box in front or their set-up by the pool. Each day DH and I stuffed a good size tip into the box early in happy hour. We also, after day one, tried to do it when it would be noticed by other patrons. 6 days of staying throuh the whole happy hour (4-6), 6 tips from us, none, nada, zip, nil from any other patron.

What's up with that? We are far from rich but if the only way I can afford to travel is to stiff the folks that contribute so much to making treasured memories for us, I'd rather take a cheaper trip closer to home.

On the other hand, there is the reverse issue. I used to travel a lot for work and learned early on to always tip the room maid/housekeeping daily. We always leave a minimum of 5$/day, each day with a thank you note. First morning at our hotel on Tortola, we did so. After snorkeling and swimming all day we came back to a sweltering hotel room (AC had been turned off and windows opened. Room was full of mosquitos that had come in while doors were left open during cleaning hour). Hubby is an electrician and HVAC specialist and knows that it far more energy-efficient to leave a cool room at a moderate temperature setting (75-78 degrees) than it is to let it heat up and then try to cool it back down, so we always left the room at about a 78 degree setting. I also have to mention that hubby has asthma and high humidity/heat exacerbates the condition badly. (And I don't even want to start on the mosquito bites in the night!) Day 2, we left a note with our tip asking that the AC please not be turned off and we would really appreciate their efforts to keeep the doors closed as much as was possible. That afternoon, we returned to the same thing. Hot, hot, hot room, all windows open plus balcony (2nd floor) door left open and unlocked. Room full of mosquitoes. This is particularly ironic, since the hotel literature recommends to guests that they never, never leave the room without closing and locking all doors and windows.

We mentionned this to the manager, who said she would take care of it (and she did), but I would have thought that a tip with a reasonable request would have been enough. (It was the previous year). I guess this boils down to the question of "When does a tip cease to be a tip and be regarded as an expected part of income, with no attempt to deliver any extra service?"
saharabee is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 10:23 AM
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United Airlines is now charging a mandatory $2 per bag for curb side check in at some airports and expects to expand it to all of their airport locations shortly.
Travelermebe is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 11:33 AM
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I just traveled throughout south america for 2 months and this charging for bags was common. They run up and grab your bags and bring them inside before you have a chnace to even get out of the cab. Then they want to be paid for them. I learned the hard way that I had to be quick and get to my bags first or I would end up paying $6 every time. Not a horrible price for a weeklong vacay, but I was in a new airport almost every other day for 2 months and it adds up. When I can use the help (like on the way home when I had aquired extra bags), I take it and pay their rate. No, they are never posted or anything like that, but that really is many of these indigenous people's entire income. I'm not saying it is a fair system, and it does make you feel ripped off sometimes. But, this is often the only job to try to support a family etc. I try to think of it as a small contribution to the local economies.
skvarme is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 12:46 PM
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A recent article in the Boston Globe reported that the airlines have cut the porter's wages and they are now charging for carrying bags.
PatrickMcC is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 03:02 PM
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You would not be Patrick McCartney - my cuz - by any chance?

Jeez, talk about off topic... gt;

btw, for anyone who is interested in my fasssss-in-ating comments, you can see my take on this original post dated 4/6/05.
Diana is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 03:24 PM
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Marion, I don't think you're Pollyanna at all. There is nothing wrong with thinking of others. Could be if we all took the time to do that a bit more often what a different world this would be.
As many whom have read my posts know I enjoy Windjammer Barefoot cruises. One of the most irritating things is when a passenger is condescending to one of the crew. That really gets my goat and I refuse to let a person get away with it. Fortunately it doesn't happen often. One time I was sailing and met a couple who were quite friendly and pleasant. A day or two later they weren't friendly and were avoiding my travel companion and me. Seems they didn't approve of me as a passenger being so friendly with the crew. Well I had known many of the crew members for a number of yrs. To be honest that's what is so wonderful about WJ. It's akin to catching up with family you only see every so often. Am I going to treat them right? You bet, because I have always been treated with love and respect. anyone who has a hard time with that can kiss my where the sun don't shine. Needless to say that couple became quite aware of my feelings long before they departed.
Nothing wrong with sharing the wealth. People who donot know any better need educated. Isn't that why we all comment on these boards, to learn?
Those of you who save for your once in a lifetime every so many yrs please take heed to budget for things like the maid and the porters. It's all part of traveling whether local or abroad, just like a passport. If I'm running a bit short on cash I just have a few less pina coladas or Hairouns.

vinceygirl is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 06:40 PM
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I found that for us my husband and I...we really did not need a porter..(we only had 2 bags with wheels).

when we went to STJ with the family..(7 suitcases)we found the porters very very helpful and were more than happy to tip $2 a bag.

Some of the porters will lead the *new traveler* wrong and make it seem that he HAS to take their bags..for them to find out later that they did not necessarily need a porter if they are light travelers.This is what I consider wrong..if a porter does this.I understand that they make a living doing this..but some of them just need to be honest.JM2C
christiegr is offline  
Sep 28th, 2005, 12:52 PM
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Sarahbee: I am one of those people who never tipped Pan Vibes. Am I a terrible person? Am I cheap? No. I believe in being a good tipper. But at some point you have to draw a line. I guess my line is at not tipping a band.
bosoco is offline  
Sep 30th, 2005, 03:21 AM
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Maybe it makes sense to look at the percentage of the amount of your tips related to the total cost of your vacation. I mean: If you pay, say, $10,000 for your vacation, and you spend, say, $20 in tips... welll.... My point is that if you can afford a vacation at an excellent hotel in the Caribbean plus flights plus food, you can also afford to be a 'good tipper' and make people happy who will never in their whole life be able to afford a vacation like that.
Carola22 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2005, 04:22 AM
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vinceygirl is offline  
Sep 30th, 2005, 06:44 PM
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You are sooo right!! I have always felt that for anyone who provides a service that you ask for..whether it's a nice dinner,vacation,hairstylist,nail technican,etc.etc...if you can afford it..you can afford to tip accordingly. I normally tip 20% and more if the person gives extremely wonderful service.

Also if you enjoy a band and listen to them for a while...you should also tip good.
christiegr is offline  
Sep 30th, 2005, 06:54 PM
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For most of us on the forum who travel regularly, $2 per bag would not be a big deal. There are a lot of people out there who scrimp and save for sometimes years to afford a vacation. People might look at them and see someone who is on a big expensive vacation, when in reality they really don't have a lot of extra money to waste. I know when I was very young trying to travel for the first few times, I was in that position. I certainly tipped people, but I tipped what I could afford.
travelenthusiast is offline  
Sep 30th, 2005, 07:16 PM
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I see your point...but when I travel (even when I was younger)I estimate tipping and include that with my budget for the trip.

I waited tables when I was young and you only make around $2-3 dollars an hour..so you depend on tips.It amazes me the amount of people that do not know to tip the maid for a hotel room.

Yes..you should tip "what you can afford"...but that amount should atleast be 15-20% the average rate now.Or maybe some people should save a little longer..I never wanted to and never did go on vacation and feel like I'm cheap..even when I did not really have the money..I would just save the estimated tip amounts into my bugdet.


christiegr is offline  

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