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chicago, illinois
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flying on winnair-any tips?

we're flying to st. barts from st. maarten on winn air in a couple of weeks...are there any tips needed? is the st. maarten airport crazy or easy to manuever? thanks!

columbus
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979 posts
16 reviews
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1. Re: flying on winnair-any tips?

Hmmm,,,,,crazy is an understatement. Be prepared to sweat profusely and wait "carribean time". Listen very closely for your flight number at the "gate", I use the term loosely, since the overhead speaker is broken! Go over to the tiki bar in the corner of the gate area, and get yourself a double Ting and voda, and try to chill.

Seriously, SXM bites, but guess what awaits you! Grin and get ready to bare it in SBH!

In a nutshell>>>

1. Hold onto your boarding passes from your US flight into SXM (I'll get to that in a minute).

2. Get off plane and go through immigration (passports ready).

3. Claim luggage (Unless booked through on US Air).

4. Slep luggage out exit (go to the left), back to the check-in area, and wait in line at Winnair counter.

5. Go to departure window and say "in transit", now produce those boarding passes from flight in to prove you have only been in SXM for about an hour. Do not pay anything!

6. Now, depending on time, go upstairs and grab some cocktails, or accross the street to the cutest little tiki bar on the water, or go directly to security.

7. Shlep through security.

8. Proceed to corner tiki bar for double Ting and vodka. Chug. Repeat if necessary.

9. Over to "gate" (probably 8 or 9), and pray you get an earlier flight and get the hell out of SXM!

Chicago...
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831 posts
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2. Re: flying on winnair-any tips?

The process at St. Maarten's airport is a mess. I agree with Binti's tips.

For the flight, note that the seats are absolutely tiny. It is difficult to fit two people and a carry-on into the seats.

The flight itself though is incredible. It is worth it if just for the sightseeing. The views are amazing. It is about 10-15 minutes and some consider it a bit scary, but just remember that they do the flight about 20 times a day and it is very safe.

I'm also from Chicago. Feel free to e-mail me at davidlewin@rcn.com and I can provide a bit more insight.

Huntsville, Alabama
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7 posts
30 reviews
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3. Re: flying on winnair-any tips?

I agree with all of those but you do not have to go through immigration. Just make sure your airline checks your bags all the way through to St Bart. That way you can hang a left into the "Transfering Flights" office while everyone else shuffles though the passport gates (mooooo). Seriously. Then you can either visit the Tiki Bar (good suggestion) or pay $20 and go upstairs to the private club lounge where it is quiet and there is AC and a bar.

Chicago...
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831 posts
2 reviews
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4. Re: flying on winnair-any tips?

How do you check your bags through?

We went through the same process that Binti described. In addition, you also need to fill out the customs form given to you on the plane. We thought we didn't need to since we were only staying there to change planes. Wrong. Back to the end of the line.

columbus
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979 posts
16 reviews
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5. Re: flying on winnair-any tips?

I know US Air has a partnership with Winnair and you can have bags checked all the way through to SBH, I don't know of any other airline that does this.

On the private club upstairs...there is a restaurant/bar upstairs, with no cover charge, what private club are you referring to? More info please!

Anything to make that hellish transfere more comfortable!

When is the new and improved? SXM supposed to open? When I was there late February it looked completed (or darn near) to me...

Binti

Nevis
Destination Expert
for Nevis
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6. Re: flying on winnair-any tips?

I believe USAir is the only airline that has a codeshare/baggage agreement with Winair so if you are flying USair you can check your baggage through to St. Barth's and use the "In Transit" door rather than going through Immigration and out into the main terminal upon arrival in SXM. You'll also be able to get your WinAir boarding passes when you check in for your USAir flight.

Regardless of what airline you fly into SXM you can use the "In Transit" door if you are doing only carry-on. There is a ticket counter just inside the door where you can get your WinAir Boarding pass. Sometimes it is un-manned so if that's the case proceed to the Immigration Window and ask them to call one of the WinAir Gate Agents (their workstation is just on the otherside of the glass window) and they will eventually come around to issue you your boarding pass.

Pittsburgh...
Destination Expert
for St. Barthelemy
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2,210 posts
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7. Re: flying on winnair-any tips?

You can also allegedly check baggage through on Delta. Doing all carry-on, or using St Barth Commuter also allows you to use the "In Transit" gate and avoid immigration and baggage claim. St. Barth Commuter will meet you at the gate, get your baggage tags and retrieve your luggage for you (that you have indicated by marking with yellow ribbon). I have gone to SBH for 10 days with only carry on and managed to return with new shoes, dress and beach cover up. It can be done!

columbus
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979 posts
16 reviews
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8. Re: flying on winnair-any tips?

I just flew on Delta in late February, and we could not check baggage all the way through to SBH, only to SXM.

chicago, illinois
9 posts
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9. Re: flying on winnair-any tips?

thanks everyone for your great information! we will report back after our trip and let you know how it went. we are flying US Air, so hopefully that will make it a bit easier. i'm assuming the return flight will be just as interesting?

Pennsylvania
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38 posts
80 reviews
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10. Re: flying on winnair-any tips?

Not sure about the St. Maarten airport crazy or "easy to maneuver" - but the ride to St. Bart's is short and sweet. Don't let it intimidate you. People always talk about it being treacherous and heartstopping but think of it as exhilarating!