St. Kitts to San Juan baggage

Mar 26th, 2002, 02:19 PM
  #1  
Chis
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St. Kitts to San Juan baggage

We're set to leave for St. Kitts in a few days. I've recently read some horror stories about getting through customs in a timely way upon returning to SJU from
St. Kitts. We only have about 75 min between flights. I'm worried that if we check the bags in St. Kitts we'll not get t the quick enought. My question is...if we carry on 3 small bags will that make enough of a difference? (we're flying American)
This would be instead of checking them. Is the plane large enough to put bags overhead?
Will they make you check them anyway?

I'd very much appreciate someones input. I've got my wife convinced do the carry-on thing but I dont want it to be for naut or Ill never hear the end of it! Thanks!!
 
Mar 26th, 2002, 04:50 PM
  #2  
Shari
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Chris,
I can appreciate your concern. But I think your check-in baggage would be ok since you are flying american all the way. In January, I had roughly an hour connection time between gates in SJU after leaving Anguilla. My flight from Anguilla left approximately 25 minutes late...(gulp)
We cleared immigration quickly and waited for about 10 (very nervous) minutes for luggage before heading to customs. On the way to customs, I asked an American Airlines staffer if we had a prayer to make our flight, and he said (oh yah...)
Customs cleared us in record time and we dropped the checked baggage on the conveyor, cleared security and got to our gate departing for STL with a 2 minute wait to board. Our bags made it through SJU to STL and home to Minneapolis with us, no problems. I was astounded! And impressed!

You can certainly do the carry-on option (if American will allow the three carry-on bags). You would save time waiting for your luggage to clear customs. But it's likely that your bags would be "checked" below on the flight between St. Kitts and SJU. There really is no storage space on those planes, unless the St. Kitts flight handles a much bigger plane than the Eagle flights I am accustomed to taking (like 50 passenger maximum). If they "check" the luggage below, it's not carried with you when climb the stairs to the plane, they load it in the belly. When you deplane, you will have to wait for them to unload it. Puts you last in line when you arrive in St. Kitts for your entrance through customs. But on the way back to SJU, many times they load you in a bus to take you from the plane to the terminal. Last on the bus because you are waiting for your luggage, means first OFF the bus at the terminal. Not bad at ALL!

But, if you do the carry-on and they check it below for the island flight, you still eliminate the hassle with baggage claim between the tarmac and customs.

Either way, checked or carry-on, I think you will make it. Weigh the pros and cons of peace of mind vs. schlepping your stuff everywhere, and you will find the answer you are comfortable with.

I'm never as concerned with the "when" of my baggage arriving home as I am with the "when" of my baggage arriving at vacation destination. Be sure to pack a swim suit and necessary stuff in your carry-on in case your luggage is delayed on the way there.

Where are you flying from? and where are you staying in St. Kitts? St. Kitts is an island I have been curious about and would love to hear more about your trip.

Shari
 
Mar 27th, 2002, 05:02 AM
  #3  
Check
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Chris,
Check your baggage. The American Eagle planes from San Juan to the islands are fairly small and their overhead space would not fit a 'normal-sized' carry-on (which normally is 21 x 14 x 9).

Since Oct., the FAA has limited the number of carry-ons to 1 per person, plus an item of a 'personal nature' (a purse or a briefcase). Therefore, it is highly unlikely that American will let 2 people on-board with 3 carry-ons.

75 minutes is plenty of time. Don't worry 'mon.
 
Mar 27th, 2002, 05:12 AM
  #4  
Beth
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The overhead compartments are a little smaller than average on these 60 seat planes. My under 20" high case, including wheels is borderline. They will watch as you get on the plane and if your luggage looks too large will load it in back. They will, however, put a special tag on your bag and return it to you on the runway. However, I'm not sure if you can do this with 3 little bags.
As soon as you reach the customs area, if it looks crowded, you can talk to an official and sometimes they will flag you to an open or less busy line. Good luck! Usually things work out fine!
 
Mar 27th, 2002, 07:53 AM
  #5  
Chris
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Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. There are actually 3 of us including my 11 yr old son. Thus 3 small bags should be ok(21 x 14 x 9) . I think we'll do the carry-on thing and check them plane side when boarding the smaller planes. At the very least it will be a good exercise in packing light for my family. (something I've been working on with them for years)
Thanks again.....I'll report back how it goes the week after next. Chris
 
Mar 27th, 2002, 02:57 PM
  #6  
Brad
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I have been to St. Kitts through San Juan many times, always on American, and the return flight is often difficult. First, despite the lack of weather problems, the planes often get into St. Kitts late and as a result, often return to San Juan late. This can make things difficult.

Customs can take a while, mostly because of the wait for the baggage in San Juan. You have the right solution: they probably won't let you bring your bags aboard the small plane, but they'll likely take them outside just when you're getting on the plane, and they'll give them to you right when you get off -- I can never do this because I travel with golf clubs -- but your idea will save you time.

Having missed my connection about 3 times, I recommend your idea... I think 1 hr., 45 min. is really the ideal time to ensure you don't miss your connection to from San Juan.
 
Mar 27th, 2002, 02:58 PM
  #7  
Brad
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by the way, enjoy St. Kitts -- it's an amazing island!
 
Mar 27th, 2002, 04:52 PM
  #8  
Chris
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Thanks Brad. I really appreciate your imput! We're VERY excited.

 
Mar 28th, 2002, 02:54 AM
  #9  
rqf
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It is a long walk from where the Eagle plane lands to the Customs area. Shouldn't be a problem if baggage has wheels.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 06:16 AM
  #10  
Lorraine
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I'm doing the same thing at the end of April. on American flying St Kitts to San Juan and then on to a connection out of San Juan. If you don't gate check your bags, do you really wait a long time to get your bags at baggage claim? Is it the same amount of time that you would wait normally? And if there is a far walk between where you get off the plane and customs, shouldn't your bags be at baggage claim by the time you get there?
I'm not trying to be difficult but I don't understand why this whole process takes so long.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 06:47 AM
  #11  
Brad
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I don't understand why it takes so long either, but it does and I've missed the connection from San Juan 3 times. It usually depends on your flight leaving St. Kitts timely... when that happens, you're usually ok. But I have found that luggage seems to be very slow in San Juan -- similar to how I often find delays for luggage at O'Hare. But if you have heavy baggage, it is quite a walk and you wouldn't want to carry your bags.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 09:20 AM
  #12  
Lorraine
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Thanks for the feedback Brad!! You've been very helpful.
 
Apr 4th, 2002, 07:48 AM
  #13  
where
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hi. for those who have been-- where is a good place to stay on st kitts. what should we do there for 2 days?
 

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