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FLYING TO THE ISLANDS

Airport aerial

There are three major airports of entry in the Virgin Islands, Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas (STT), the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island (EIS) and the Henry E. Rohlson Airport on St. Croix (STX)—named after a WWII officer in the Red Tails, the famous 99th Fighter Squadron. The airports on St. Thomas and St. Croix support large commercial jets that regularly arrive from the United States. Continental, Delta, American, US Air and United Airlines all have non-stop flights to the U.S. Virgin Islands from major east coast hubs. (This list may change as the various major airlines go through business changes.) The flight times from Miami and New York are 2-1/2; and 3-1/2; hours respectively.

Flying for Free

Many visitors to the Virgin Islands fly free using their frequent flyer miles. Free flights into Tortola can be hard to come by as the airlines only allocate a few seats every day on small commuter-style prop-driven aircraft. This can be particularly challenging if you are trying to fly an entire family or group in using frequent flyer miles. Also, the airport on Beef Island, Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport, is considered an international destination for many programs requiring the redemption of double points. There is a way around this.

Book your flight into St. Thomas and take the ferry across to Tortola. There are many flights a day from a number of major cities served by several major airlines, hence a better chance to book a free flight. If all of the flights to St. Thomas are booked, an alternative is book your free flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Then book and pay for a round trip commuter flight to and from Beef Island. The current fare is about $200 round trip with conveniently timed connections. After paying cab and ferry fares, this alternative can, at times, be more cost and time e!ective than booking a free flight directly to St. Thomas and taking the ferry.

The other alternative is to fly non-stop to San Juan, Puerto Rico and connect to a commuter airline for the remainder of the trip to the VI. From San Juan, American Eagle, Cape Air, LIAT and several other commuter lines fly to all the Virgin Islandsí airports, including Virgin Gorda.

If your charter base is on Tortola, one alternative is to fly directly to St. Thomas, take a cab to the Charlotte Amalie waterfront and catch one of several ferries to Tortola. The ferry schedules are available on the internet and there are several ferries ranging from the slower Bomba Charger or Native Son to the Tortola Fast Ferry, a motorcatamaran the makes the 25-mile trip to Road Harbour in less than an hour.

 

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