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leahb
Traveler


Joined: 07/09/01
Posts: 1557
Loc: Boston
Good vs Bad SJU experience
      #1593749 - 06/09/14 11:49 PM (24.62.115.146)

Carol,
We typically only hear about the bad experiences people have at SJU and I think it freaks people out to some degree and then you have people like me who have never had an issue and I wouldn't think to post about a positive experience. So, I was thinking a poll (since you're doing polls anyway) would show us how many people actually have a bad vs a good experience at SJU. What do you think?
STT/EIS ferry experience data would be interesting too.

--------------------
It's a round trip. Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory.
~ Ed Viesturs


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JasonHelmbrecht
Traveler


Joined: 11/12/00
Posts: 1209
Loc: Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: leahb]
      #1593801 - 06/10/14 10:06 AM (63.72.208.223)

4-5 trips a year, usually all good. I typically fly commercial from Atlanta to SJU and then charter to Anegada. The best way to do that is use carry-on bags so you don't have to leave the secured area. If checked bags are a must, most charter companies offer a service where they fetch the bags from baggage area and bring them thru security while you wait at the bar! On the return, clearing Customs and Immigration is required with your bags as well as the USDA bag check. It's a tough lesson to learn but now that I know it's required, I usually remember. If the airport is busy, I'll typically ask the charter pilot to wait with me for USDA and then he can walk me right to the front of the security line.

I have not found reasonable food anywhere but the bars aren't too bad. If you seek out the Margaritaville bar, their Cuban sandwich isn't too bad.

I will agree that the construction has made the trip a little more confusing but everyone just needs to remember that if you're not claiming bags, all the terminals are connected. Ask for directions before you accidentally exit the secured area.

Also, the charter flights all have a place to meet inside the secured area if you aren't picking up checked bags so ask them ahead of time where to meet.


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AquaGirl
Traveler


Joined: 06/12/07
Posts: 168
Loc: Virginia suburbs of DC
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: leahb]
      #1593812 - 06/10/14 10:39 AM (173.66.55.191)

We've flown into SJU for many years and (thankfully) have never had a bad experience there. The most recent is last Oct when we connected with a Seaborne flight to EIS. It was a bit confusing to find the Seaborne counter from where we came in on a United flight, but we asked directions, then found it with no problem.

Regarding food - we ate at a little Hispanic type chicken place and the food was actually very good. I am usually a bit leery of eating at airport restaurants, and take stuff with me. That trip, the timing was such that we were starving and didn't have food with us.


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MarkandMarie
Traveler


Joined: 10/01/07
Posts: 692
Loc: East Greenbush, NY
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: AquaGirl]
      #1593815 - 06/10/14 10:52 AM (163.153.162.252)

We have been through twice and have not had a problem.

Last year I flew South West and then Seaborne to EIS, stayed in secured area on the way down and it was painless.

On the way home, I had loads of time between flights and had no problems finding where I had to be.

The USDA thing almost screwed me up, but it only took a second when I found it. I remember asking if that was all there was to it.

It pays to be prepared and know where you are going. That map in the other thread is a handy tool.

M&M


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Manpot
Traveler


Joined: 05/07/02
Posts: 15328
Loc: Tortola/ Sonoma, California
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: AquaGirl]
      #1593856 - 06/10/14 12:27 PM (198.56.58.178)

I avoid SJU like the plague..worst ever experience was flying to London for my mother's funeral..delays out of EIS meant I missed every connection. No one in the secured area of EIS would help..my cell would not work there and the pay phone was put of order. I finally managed to get someone to help and get me on a later flight. I ran the length of the SJU with my bags and got to the gate as they closed the door on the plane.On top of having $$$ of stuff stolen and being bumped off flights..and the terrible food in SJU I'll take my chances with the ferry,

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sail2wind
Traveler


Joined: 12/09/05
Posts: 10198
Loc: GJ, CO S/V Long Overdue
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: Manpot]
      #1593865 - 06/10/14 12:36 PM (64.134.63.21)

I'm with you Mal, hate SJU. I am at least one Leatherman lighter do to SJU's baggage handlers. At least if I get stuck in STT, I have several friends to call and hang out with.

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lauraandrex
Sponsor


Joined: 03/26/03
Posts: 3889
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: Manpot]
      #1593866 - 06/10/14 12:40 PM (142.105.173.32)

One thing I learned is the good food is outside of the terminal...so if you have the time, go out of security and eat out there. Also learned "almost" the hard way if you book two separate flights that aren't code share ( I think we had USAirways and Cape Air at the time) and you have checked bags, do not give yourself a one and half hour layover. Rex had to go to baggage claim and then sit in security line for an hour, luckily Cape Air was cool, the kids and I were in the terminal so they knew he was coming. They would have held it for him, but he literally got there as the plane was boarding so it all worked out but we learned that lesson.

--------------------
cheers! Laura
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RonP
Traveler


Joined: 11/02/04
Posts: 237
Loc: Amityville, NY
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: lauraandrex]
      #1593932 - 06/10/14 03:38 PM (144.160.226.94)

I'm not grasping where this USDA thing is. We went through there last year right before AA/AE pulled out. OK, so we walked into the terminal, did the Bataan Death March down the long corridor with the windows, and around into C&I. Then you go to a place where you recheck the bags after customs, but that just looked like an Xray machine where they hand you tags. Then sort of to the right and into TSA lines, and back into terminal A. I don't remember any USDA check and no one acted like we'd missed a step. Did we do it and I just don't remember?

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JasonHelmbrecht
Traveler


Joined: 11/12/00
Posts: 1209
Loc: Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: RonP]
      #1593935 - 06/10/14 03:53 PM (63.72.208.223)

If you recheck your bags immediately after C&I they do the USDA check there. Everyone else must scan their bags at the USDA stations between the ticket counters and the curbside dropoff.

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Twanger
Traveler


Joined: 06/03/04
Posts: 6042
Loc: Maryland
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: JasonHelmbrecht]
      #1593947 - 06/10/14 04:33 PM (184.182.182.178)

We sometimes fly through SJU on the way to STT.
Bags are typically checked right through.

Have had no problems.


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RonP
Traveler


Joined: 11/02/04
Posts: 237
Loc: Amityville, NY
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: JasonHelmbrecht]
      #1593953 - 06/10/14 04:55 PM (144.160.226.94)

Thanks Jason.

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Carol_HillAdministrator
Administrator


Joined: 08/01/00
Posts: 63378
Loc: Central Florida!
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: Twanger]
      #1593956 - 06/10/14 05:01 PM (71.101.35.187)

No problem there because all is still US territory.

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maytrix
Traveler


Joined: 09/18/10
Posts: 5412
Loc: Massachusetts
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: Carol_Hill]
      #1594086 - 06/11/14 10:41 AM (173.48.112.95)

Our experience has always been good as well. Only thing I've disliked in the past year or so is terminal A since there's so much less to choose from there, but if you can now connect between them once through security, that's now not an issue I guess.

We've gone through San Juan all but two trips (out of a dozen+). We always have left at least 2 hours between flights and this has worked well. Once AA was no longer an option, we switched to JetBlue which works great for us with a red eye, allowing us to work Friday and be on the boat by Noon Saturday.

I also love to fly and love the small Cape Air plane and views. I always have my camera out and always get some great new pictures.

Additional cost is really the only downside and in the end it doesn't end up being that much more. Maybe $300-600 worst case scenario (not factoring savings of ferry costs.etc.), but the arrival time and being in an anchorage that first night vs arriving late is well worth it!

On our return, we have a more leisurely day and can take a 4pm flight out of tortola with a 6:35pm flight out of San Juan. Typically I'd leave more time, but we always get from the plane to the gate within about 30 minutes of landing so our upcoming trip, we leaving later. And I wouldn't be heart broken if we had to spend the night in San Juan either

So in summary, for us its simple:

- $200-600 added cost ($600 worst case) for two of us
- Arrival on Island by Noon (vs 6pm or later)
- Scenic Flight (almost worth the extra cost alone)
- Longer last day
- No buffer days needed

Edited to reflect more accurate price difference. I did some looking and if we went with the lowest possible fares we could sometimes save $600 total for the airfare end to end - but I still don't find it worth it when you look at the flight times, stops..etc. Especially when that $600 is closer to $400 once you factor in all the other costs when going via ferry. So I guess the big thing is we're willing to pay $400 for convenience and extra time.

--------------------
Matt

Edited by maytrix (06/11/14 10:57 AM)


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CaptainCarts
Traveler


Joined: 09/04/10
Posts: 122
Loc: Vail, Colorado
Re: Good vs Bad SJU experience [Re: maytrix]
      #1594143 - 06/11/14 03:13 PM (66.86.95.92)

With 10+ trips a year between hubby and I thru SJU, we also prefer SJU over the STT alternative; however, I see SJU as the lesser of two evils. Without the fabulous Cape Air, I'm not certain I would see it that way.

The fact that even McDonalds has closed its only restaurant in the SJU airport suggests to me that the SJU airport is in for some long-term problems. This seems to be supported by a 2012 US Dept of Transportation study of the US's top 50 airports indicating that SJU is one of only eight airports to have a negative growth in passenger traffic from 2002-2012. Bureau of Transportation Statistics Study (Although SJU did have one of the higher growths from 2011-2012. It will be interesting to see what the trend does in the coming years.)

I've had stuff stolen out of my luggage at SJU. I've become infuriated at the 50+ minute waits at TSA screening - when all lanes appear fully staffed, but yet they only open one lane. The airport is not clean. The airport design appears to have very little concern for passengers who have trouble walking long distances; moving walkways exist but have never been running in the 12+ years I have been watching. The USDA scan is just the essence of stupidity. I have never experienced a more over-staffed airport with as few people actually appearing to work. Half or more of the airport facilities appear to be unused, yet the two areas that are used are at opposite ends, resulting in terrible inefficiencies for the travelers. They have not done a good job of managing the construction in a way that preserves the ability of travelers to connect between the terminals. Except for the American Admiral's Club, there is no comfortable place for passengers with long layovers to wait, and as others note, the restaurant choices are pretty awful.

Yet even with all that, for me, SJU beats the alternative of STT and the ferry system. I can completely understand how a newbie would be totally aghast at the SJU facilities and airport personnel.


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