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beckytx Jun 24th, 2008 06:49 AM

Help picking DFW-Anguilla flights
Hi all,
I have never connected in SJU, so would appreciate your input on selecting my return flight from AXA.

option 1:
AXA - SJU 7:13 AM - 8:20 AM
SJU - DFW 9:10 AM - 1:20 PM

option 2:
AXA - SJU 7:13 AM - 8:20 AM
SJU - DFW 12:25 PM - 4:40 PM

Is the 50 minute connection on option 1 way too short? If we missed the connection, hopefully they would get us on the later flight but you never know. As I'm planning to travel on a Saturday, I suppose the worst case is to get a room in SJU for the night and fly home the next day? Please let me know what you think. Thanks!!!

beckytx Jun 24th, 2008 06:56 AM

Another thought to I am planning this trip on AA miles, would they allow me to intentionally break up the flight to stay in SJU for a night? That could be fun, but I'm guessing not possible.

A_Traveller Jun 24th, 2008 07:17 AM

50 minutes is a very short connecting time for an inbound flight to SJU from the Caribbean. It's doable if you are doing only carry-on and "everything goes right" but that's a big IF. Remember that connection time is from scheduled touchdown to scheduled departure. The thing is your actual connecting time is lees since your departing flight will begin boarding 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure and the Gate Agents sometims "close the gate" 10 minute prior to departure.

Here's what you can expect: Your flight from AXA is on American Eagle. After landing you'll taxi to a spot on the tarmac where you'll wait on the shhuttle bus until all passengers have deplaned. From there you'll go to the terminal where you'll have to take a 10 minute walk to Immigration. Passing the immigration checkpoint can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on crowds (Saturdays are often busy and you never know if the big Jumbo Jet with 350 passengers will arrive just before you). Once through immigration you go downstairs and claim your checked luggage (if any - this can take betwen 20 and 40 minutes). You then proceed through the customs checkpoint. Normally this is fairly quick but is dependant on how crowded it is when you arrive. You could be singled out for a detailed inspection of your luggage (rare but possible). Once through customs you re-check your luggage (if any) and procced to the Security checkpoint. Lines here move V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y. Once through security you have to walk to your depoarture gate.

I fly to/from the Caribbean through SJU often, always with carry-on. The quickest I've ever gotten through Immigration/Customs and Security was 40 minutes anmd the longest was about 75 minutes. Average time is about 50 minutes. And that's not considering flight delays caused by weather, traffic or mechanical problems which can and do happen with some regularity.

Murphy's Law of Airports always comes into play when you have a short connecting time. Your inbound fligt will be delayed taking off, the lines at Immigrationn, Customs and Security will be extra long and move at a snails pace, the luggage handlers will be on a coffe break, the gate for your connecting flight will be at the far end of the terminal and your connecting flight will board and take-off early or right on time. On the other hand if you take the later connecting flight, your plane from AXA will depart 10 minutes early, there will be no lines at immigration and customs, your luggage will be waiting for you, you'll whip through the Security Checkpoint and be sitting at the gate within 35 minutes of your arrival in SJU.

Take it from someone who has been there, done that - opt for the slightly longer connecting time - 50 minutes will cause you great stress.

A_Traveller Jun 24th, 2008 07:20 AM

Yes, they allow you to make a stopover in SJU.

beckytx Jun 24th, 2008 08:32 AM

This is really helpful - I appreciate it!

ejcrowe Jun 24th, 2008 10:36 AM

I definitely recommend the stopover in San Juan! I love it when my schedule will accommodate a night in Old San Juan because it's a splendid transition between the total relaxation of a beachy vacation and easing back into the hustle & bustle of the real world.

beckytx Jun 24th, 2008 10:43 AM

Do either of you have any hotel recommendations if we do stay in San Juan? I might be able to get a corporate discount for the Ritz, but reviews on TripAdvisor are pretty mixed.

nonstop Jun 24th, 2008 10:58 AM

the info that A_Traveler gave you is dead on. I have done the AXA-SJU a number of times and you need the extra time. We did it once with about 40 minutes but everything had to click exactly right. It is a long walk to get to immigration and in your case you would probably need to almost run. Saturday is busy at SJU immigration. Don't do it!

I think overnight in SJU would be a good idea if you have the time. You might check out the HOtel El San Juan, it is next to the Ritz. I have not seen the rooms but the lobby is worth walking into. Another suggestion is dinner at the Metropole Cafe which is near both the Ritz and Hotel El San Juan.

Callaloo Jun 24th, 2008 11:24 AM

Like ejcrowe, I like to do an overnight in San Juan coming to and/or returning from the Caribbean.

We've stayed at the Water Club (not my style, and iffy reviews since then) and more recently at the Ritz. I liked the Ritz when we stayed a couple of years ago, and while there were a few service glitches, I would highly recommend it. If I didn't want to be on the beach, I'd stay at El Convento -- love the Old San Juan location.

We'll be doing the San Juan overnight again, early next year. This time, we'll stay at the Marriott Stellaris in Condado. I haven't seen the property yet, but it gets good reviews and -- decisively for me -- it has a Hertz location on site (we're going to be driving on to Rincon the next morning).

RoamsAround Jun 24th, 2008 12:42 PM

Yes, A_traveller has it right.

For overnight stays in San Juan we like the Ritz (although I wouldn't stay there for extend periods). We've also stayed at the El San Juan Hotel (don't confuse this place with ESJ Towers which is located around the corner) and the Intercontinental.

ejcrowe Jun 24th, 2008 04:16 PM

I'd actually really urge you to stay in Old San Juan, not just in a large resort on the beach. After all, you will have just finished an incomparable beach vacation on Anguilla. Why spoil the end with a subpar beach? Instead, I'd urge you to take a look at the El Convento hotel in Old San Juan. If it's too pricey, take a look at getting a really good rate at the Sheraton Old San Juan. El Convento has beautiful architecture, a lovely indoor courtyard, a very nice rooftop wine & cheese reception each night, and a lot of history in and of itself, separate from the old town. It's in a great location for walking to one or both of the forts, or just for poking up one street and down the next, admiring the colonial architecture, the colorful facades, and the cobblestone streets.

emcash Jun 25th, 2008 04:49 AM

to echo the others, 50 minutes is not enough time. When we went to anguilla, our flight to sju was over an hour late getting out- had we not had amble time to make our connector, we would have missed the fligth just b/c of that.

The ritz is great in SJU. Yes, it has some glitches, but it is still a ritz and you still feel like you're at a ritz when you stay there. They have some great restaurants at teh hotel too if you don't feel like travelling about, but if you do, try Pikayo!

beckytx Jun 25th, 2008 04:52 AM

I love the idea of staying in Old San Juan. Thank you for all of the great suggestions! I'll follow up when we get it all booked.

beckytx Jun 28th, 2008 01:14 PM

I booked my flights on AA miles today - hooray! We will spend 6 nights on Anguilla (considering 3 at Ku then 3 at Cap Juluca), and the 7th night we'll spend in San Juan, likely at El Convento. Thanks for the idea! Its almost a year away but I'm super excited that the miles worked out. :)

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