Transfer through San Juan airport

Jan 23rd, 2011, 06:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 71
Transfer through San Juan airport


My wife and I are going to Peter Island in a few weeks. On return, how much time would you need to transfer through San Juan airport when returning to not miss a connecting flight? I realize that you have to go through customs at the airport but is the process efficient enough that a 45 minute connection is sufficient?
gpeters is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 07:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,937
I've never been comfortable with anything less than 1.5 hours. We usually travel American Airlines and they seem to take a long time to get baggage off the planes in San Juan. Then you have to go through security again and for whatever reason we always seem to get picked for the hand check of the carry on luggage. And by the same gate agent, too!

It's about a 10 minute walk from the plane to the immigration area so already you're down 10 minutes, assuming you get off the plane first. Clearing immigration and customs is usually pretty quick but you do have to wait for your luggage and we have waited a good 30 minutes for luggage at San Juan. Then another security line.

One and a half hours gives a little bit of cushion in case you're late leaving your destination. I've seen too many people miss their connections with only 45 minutes. Me? I wouldn't chance it. It can be done in 45 minutes, of course, but all stars have to align just right.
sharona is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 3,648
Agree with Sharona--too many variables have to work perfectly for you to connect in only 45 minutes. I've often found long, slow-moving lines at security.

I've run through that airport a few times--it's not a good feeling. (I've also stayed overnight a couple of times in San Juan, when weather has delayed my first flight by 15 or 20 minutes.)
cw is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 09:44 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,623
45 minute is not enough to make a connecting flight in SJU from the BVI's. While it's theoretically possible to make the connection you are asking for trouble. Island hopper flights are often delayed 15 to 30 minutes and therefore you don't have any cushion. Also, remember that the connecting flight will begin boarding 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure meaning your flight out of SJU will begin boarding 15 minutes after your inbound flight lands.

Depending on your arrival gate you could have as much as a 10 minute walk to reach the immigration check point. Add anywhere from 5 to 15 minute to clear immigration (assuming you don't arrive just after the jumbo jet discharges it's passengers in which case it could take upwards of 30 minutes). You'll then have to proceed downstairs to claim your luggage 9if not doing carry-on) and clear customs. that can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes if you are single out for a detailed inspection. Next you have to recheck your checked luggage (if any) and clear the TSA checkpoint - again adding anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.

Remember, Murphy's Law of Airports will come into play here - the shorter your connecting time the more delays you'll encounter whereas the longer your connecting time the quicker you'll get through immigration, customs and Security.

Allow at least 90 minutes between flights.
RoamsAround is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 12:32 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 71
I want to thank all of you. After reading your replies, I decided to change my flight and leave Tortola earlier in the morning. American airlines wanted $199/person to change but I was able to negotiate down to $124/person which is still unfair. I have contacted AA two previous times about this connection and each time, the agent said "it is a valid connection!!"Actually, the AA agent today told me that they have to say that even though they know from experience that it is a tight connection but cannot tell a customer that information. How about that!!!
Anyhow, since I have to be SF the next morning, I had to change the flight and not take a chance and miss my connection that day.
It leaves a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth for AA but I am not sure that other airlines would be any different/better in this regard. You would have thought by now that the connection would be adjusted hearing the complaints but it may take a lot more complaints to force the change.
But again, thanks to all of you above for your replies.
gpeters is offline  
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