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St Martin to St Barts

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Jul 23rd, 2006, 07:29 AM
  #1
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St Martin to St Barts

I read a recent post that said it was a nightmare to transfer from St Martin to Winair and onto St.Barts. Is it that difficult to locate Winair at St Martin airport?
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Jul 23rd, 2006, 07:54 AM
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It's easy if you do only carry-on or your baggage is checked all they way through to SBH. When you get off the plane in SXM follow enter the terminal throught the door marked "In Transit". You get your boarding pass right inside the door, check at the immigration desk a few feet further down the hall, pass through the security check point and you are less than 50 feet from the Winair gate. The whole process takes less than 7 to 10 minutes. If you have checked bags that are not checked through to SBH then you have to follow the normal arrivals procedure in SXM by clearing immigration, claim your bags, pass customs, go into the main terminal, re-check your bags and get your boarding pass at the Winair Counter, go through security to the Winair gate. You'd have to do this for any airline coinnection where your bags were not checked through to SBH.
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Jul 23rd, 2006, 04:47 PM
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I fly WinAir all the time and have to admit that even if you have to re-check your baggage at the WinAir counter in St. Maarten, they seem to accomdate folks going to St. Barth's moreso than any other island. I have often seen when flights are delayed that St. Barth's takes precedence to many other island departures, including my own. (Arrghhhh....ok, you didn't hear me say that).

It is not difficult at all to locate the WinAir counter at SXM. It's in the check-in hall with all the other counters (the farthest down in an area that is not all that large) and the lines are never as long as those of the major carriers.

I would think you would have no problem at all if you have ever connected in a major US airport. Of course, the new SXM airport is due to open anytime now, and I have yet to have any experience with that one....nor does anyone else.
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Jul 23rd, 2006, 05:53 PM
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I don't think it is difficult to locate Winair - but we found the process a nightmare -- Saturday in April, 2006 it took two hours to get through the huge lines in St. Maarten and others stated the same experience to us. I assume this is only an in-season Saturday issue, but we vowed never to make this transfer on a Saturday again due to the hassle - if we did not leave two hours for the transfer we would not have made it. If you take American to St. Maarten, you cannot check your luggage directly through to St. Barts.
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Jul 23rd, 2006, 06:51 PM
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travbabe is right...the immigration lines can be quite long, especially if you arrive in the afternoon between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., along with Air France from Paris and US Air out of Charlotte.

I had forgotten about that since I have a Dutch passport now and just whiz thru the Antillean line.

My suggestion in that case would be to request seating near the front of the aircraft upon checkin so that you are one of the first off. Honestly, however, I think that an hour and a half layover would be sufficient to clear immigration, collect your bags, check in at WinAir, clear security and arrive at your departure gate for St. Barth's. Two hours would be optimal, but it is doable in an hour and a half.

When are you traveling? I ask because if the new airport is up and running at that time things will be very different. They could run more smoothly, or not, depending on how long the new airport has been in operation.
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Jul 23rd, 2006, 07:39 PM
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I have a question...
We are flying from DFW to St. Maarten in November on American Airlines, so we cannot check our luggage through to St. Barts. So, if I can squeeze everything into a carry-on, can we avoid the long delay and clear customs in St. Barths? Would we just get off the plane and go through the "In Transit" door to get to the Win Air gate...then clear customs in St. Barths?
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Jul 24th, 2006, 07:43 AM
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To jewelhawg - if you are doing only carry-on you can use the In Transit area and you don't have to clear customs in SXM. You effectively go from the your in-bound plane across the tarmac to the secure In-Transit area of the terminal and are not actually "entering St. Martin" so there's no need to clear customs until you get to SBH.

By the way in SXM it's not customs but rather immigration that causes those long lines and long delays. Using the In-Transit route will allow you to by-pass those long lines.

One hint, if after you enter the In-Transit area there is no one manning the ticket counter proceed to the Immigration window and ask them to have someone from Winair come to the counter so you can get your boarding pass.
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Jul 24th, 2006, 03:28 PM
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To johnb: Sorry to butt in on your post, but A Traveller has been most helpful. Hopefully it was helpful to you as well!

Have a great trip!
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Jul 26th, 2006, 04:10 PM
  #9
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Thanks everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Jul 27th, 2006, 04:31 AM
  #10
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Great Information..Thanks.
I know Wair has many flights a day. Do you think if we miss our flight they would put us on another? AT THAT POINT HOW WOULD WE GET TO SBARTS?
Good stuff thanks again....
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Jul 27th, 2006, 06:22 AM
  #11
 
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If you miss your scheduled Winair flight they will make an effort to get you on the next available flight provided there are seats. It's a small plane so getting out on the very next flight is not always a given but not not every seat is pre-reserved so there's a good chance you'll get on the next flight. Flying on Winair is no diffent than any of the other comuter airlines in the Caribbean. If you are travelling on seperate tickets (rather than a combined ticket for both flights) it is your responsibility to allow enough time between your arriving flight and your flight to SBH. Making connections in the Caribbean can be challenging for a lot of reasons (weather delays, maintainence problems, etc.) so it is not unusual for people to miss scheduled comuter flights to other islands. They deal with that situation often so you would not be the first to miss a flight. If that happens, maintain a positive outlook, be friendly with the ticket agent and you'll be just fine. Remember, you'll be dealing on "island time" so things will seem to move slowly but they will get you to your destination.

FYI - if Winair can't help you try Air Caribes or you could always take one of the two ferry services from SXM to SBH (warning the ferry ride can get bumpy - they don't call it the vomit comet for nothing).

Other alternatives toYou would have to evaluate the situation at th
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Jul 27th, 2006, 06:48 AM
  #12
 
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Well put, A_Traveller. And, if worse comes to worse you can always overnight at SXM and get on the first flight to SBH the next morning. Just be willing to go along with "island time," and the adventure that comes along with it, and you'll be fine.
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Jul 27th, 2006, 06:52 AM
  #13
 
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johnb~
I have been asking this same question. I was told to book a flight with plenty of time between arrival and departure. If your airlines will not check your bags all the way through to St. Barth's, then, use the VIP service ($100 per couple) to help get you through the St. Maarten airport. One agent will meet you at the plane and escort you through the St. Maarten airport and to the gate for your commuter flight. While this is going on, another agent with get your bags for you at baggage claim and will meet you at the ticket counter and gate. If there is an earlier commuter flight with seats on it, then they'll get you on your way. I was told that's much better that booking your conneting flights close, missing your commuter flight, then finding out there aren't any seats left on the remaining flights for the day.

Something to ponder...right now there are 4 of us traveling to St. Barth's. We're considering inviting another couple to go with us for three reasons. #1, our villa has 3 King suites...share the expense. #2, it's around $1500 round trip to charter a small plane. With 6 people sharing the expense, it's almost the same cost. The plane is ready when you are. #3, we haven't seen this other couple in several years and we love traveling with them!

The VIP service is offered by a couple of different companies. You can find links to them on the sbhonline website. If you have trouble, let me know and I'll find the exact web addresses.
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Jul 28th, 2006, 08:26 AM
  #14
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Big trip for us, think I will use VIP.
I see there is Sun and premium IV. Has
anyone use these services?
johnb
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Oct 9th, 2006, 08:06 AM
  #15
 
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Winair cancelled our flight and we were told that rest of the flights are all booked – thus we have to spend a night in SXM. We requested Winair to speak to Air Caribe to put us on their flight. They grudgingly did so - and we were able to reach SBH that afternoon via Air Caribe. You really have to be firm with Winair in order to get service.
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Oct 9th, 2006, 10:07 AM
  #16
 
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Its easy enough to find WINAIR, but went I went to St Barths last year, I got to the WINAIR counter and they said that we missed the flight and there were not any others. We ended up taking the ferry over, horrible ride, at our own cost. They said that we would get a refund since we did not take the flight - however its been almost a year and after contacting them about 20 times I gave up.
SO if your flight is running late, just be aware you may miss WINAIR and have to take the ferry, or overnight in SXM. We opted not to overnight as we had paid a lot of $$$ for the villa in St Barths and did not want to miss a night.
GL hope it goes smooth for you!! You can use a service, but if your flight is really late you won't necessarily make the flight...its impossible to predict what will happen. Hopefully you will have luck and not have any issues getting there!
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Oct 9th, 2006, 11:00 AM
  #17
 
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Just FYI – there are other airlines, St. Barts Commuter and Air Caribe fly from SXM to SBH. St. Barts Commuter has limited flight schedule, but I never encountered any problem with them. Air Caribe codeshare with AirFrance – and their price is usually less than Winair.
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Oct 10th, 2006, 11:32 AM
  #18
 
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We have an hour connection in March. My alternate plan if we miss that and can't get on the others is the ferry from Marigot. I believe it leaves daily at 6:45pm. I've read it's very rough so will have some seasick medicine with us.
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Oct 10th, 2006, 11:48 AM
  #19
 
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sometimes going over to st. Barth's from St. martin can be rough and people do get sick. Coming back from St. barth's to St. Martin is usally not a problem..it's a much smoother ride.
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