Traveling to the USVI by Airplane

Air travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands may be far easier than you think

Photo credit: © Fernando Jose Vascocelos Soares | Dreamstime.com
 

With plenty of direct flights from North America and Europe, traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands is easy, which makes it all the more popular. Traffic to these islands is bustling, as the hub of activity for transportation to the British Virgin Islands, which do not have airports large enough to accommodate large international jets.

The two main airports in the U.S. Virgin Islands are St. Thomas' Cyril E. King Airport near Charlotte Amalie or St. Croix's Henry E. Rohlsen Airport near Christiansted. Almost all of the international planes with tourists heading to both the British and U.S. Virgin Islands will make their first stop at one of these two airports. 

Located on the southwestern side of St. Thomas, the Cryril E. King Airport has a seven thousand foot runway, and 11 gates.  As of the fall of 2014, this airport was still working on a renovation project which would make it a place worthy of a first impression.  The first leg of the project included expanding the bathrooms and creating a more welcoming atmosphere with fresh paint, lovey stonework designs, and plants throughout. The next phase of the project includes bringing the baggage claim indoors where passengers can wait for their belongings in the air conditioning.  The Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, meanwhile, is on the southwestern side of St. Croix, and after a recent $42 million renovation, has a 10,000 foot runway and 181,000 square foot terminal.

Regardless of which airport you fly in to, you'll find that booking your ticket is much like you would see elsewhere. Schedules are submitted months in advance, with flights opening up on daily basis, and prices fluctuate just as often based on numerous factors. One factor is the proximity to the flight date as well as the season. You'll almost always spend more to fly during the peak tourist season. In order to save on air travel, always book round-trip tickets, look for flights that depart mid-week, and if you can, travel during the off-season. Keep in mind that when you do find deals, they can come with a catch. Many specially priced tickets are non-refundable, and if you want to change the date and time of your flight, you'll likely incur a hefty fee. 

Flying to the USVI from the US

Traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands is relatively easy, as many flights from the U.S. reach this trio of islands. Many flights from the United States travel nonstop to the Virgin Islands, most specifically St. Thomas, and sometimes on to St. Croix. Travelers will land at either St. Thomas' Cyril E. King Airport near Charlotte Amalie or St. Croix's Henry E. Rohlsen Airport near Christiansted.

Cyril E King Airport U.S. Flights
To/From Airport Code Airlines
Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA FLL Spirit Airlines
Miami, FL, USA MIA American Airlines, WestJet
Henry E Rohlsen Airport U.S. Flights
To/From Airport Code Airlines
Miami, FL, USA MIA American Airlines

Flying to the USVI from Europe

It is true that you are unlikely to find a direct flight to the US Virgin Islands from Europe. However, all that means is one connection in another island. If you plan it right, this lets you visit more than one island during your vacation, such as Puerto Rico.

Flying to the USVI from the Caribbean

If your in the Caribbean, it will be hard not to find a flight to the USVI. There are dozens of daily flights, so if you can make it to an international airport, you will likely be able to find a flight leaving that day or the next.

Cyril E King Airport Caribbean Flights
To/From Airport Code Airlines
Anegada, British Virgin Islands NGD VI Airlink
Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda ANU LIAT
Basseterre, St. Kitts SKB Hummingbird Air, LIAT
Dominica DOM Air Sunshine
Gustavia, St. Barthelemy SBH Tradewind Airlines
Isla Verde, Puerto Rico SJU Air Sunshine, Cape Air, Jet Blue, United Airlines
Nevis, Saint Kitts and Nevis NEV Air Sunshine, Hummingbird Air
Roseau, Dominica DCF Hummingbird Air
Simpson Bay, The island of St. Martin and Sint Maarten SXM Air Sunshine
Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda VIJ Air Sunshine, Seaborne Airlines, VI Airlink
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands STX Cape Air, Hummingbird Air, Seaborne Airlines
The Valley, Anguilla AXA LIAT
Vieques, Puerto Rico VQS Air Sunshine
the BVI, British Virgin Islands EIS Hummingbird Air, VI Airlink
Henry E Rohlsen Airport Caribbean Flights
To/From Airport Code Airlines
Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda ANU LIAT
Basseterre, St. Kitts SKB Hummingbird Air
Isla Verde, Puerto Rico SJU Jet Blue, United Airlines
Roseau, Dominica DCF Hummingbird Air
Simpson Bay, The island of St. Martin and Sint Maarten SXM Hummingbird Air, LIAT
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands STT Cape Air, Hummingbird Air, Seaborne Airlines
Vieques, Puerto Rico VQS Cape Air, Seaborne Airlines
Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia UVF Hummingbird Air
the BVI, British Virgin Islands EIS Hummingbird Air
Charlotte Amalie Harbor Seaplane Base Caribbean Flights
To/From Airport Code Airlines
Christiansted, St. Croix SSB Seaborne Airlines
Christiansted Harbour Seaplane Base Caribbean Flights
To/From Airport Code Airlines
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas SPB Seaborne Airlines
Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport Caribbean Flights
To/From Airport Code Airlines
Anegada, British Virgin Islands NGD VI Airlink
Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda ANU LIAT, Winair
Basseterre, St. Kitts SKB Hummingbird Air, Winair
Dominica DOM Air Sunshine, BVI Airways, Winair
Dominican Republic SDQ Winair
Gustavia, St. Barthelemy SBH Winair
Isla Verde, Puerto Rico SJU American Airlines, Cape Air, Seaborne Airlines, United Airlines, VI Airlink
Nevis, Saint Kitts and Nevis NEV Air Sunshine, Hummingbird Air, Winair
Oranjestad, Aruba AUA Winair
Roseau, Dominica DCF Hummingbird Air
Saba SAB Winair
Simpson Bay, The island of St. Martin and Sint Maarten SXM Air Sunshine, BVI Airways, Hummingbird Air, LIAT, VI Airlink, Winair
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands STX Hummingbird Air
St. Eustatius, Saint Eustatius EUX Winair
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands STT Hummingbird Air, VI Airlink
The Valley, Anguilla AXA Winair

Ferries

Ferries are a relatively easy way to reach some of the more out of the way islands. Ferries leave from St. Thomas' Charlotte Amalie and travel to the nearby St. John's Cruz Bay and the more distant Fajardo in Puerto Rico. Therefore, travelers can fly to Puerto Rico and then take a ferry to their final destination within the Virgin Islands.

Airline Safety

Americans who are unfamiliar with an airline can consult the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which ranks carriers based on service, safety, and performance. Contact the FAA at: 800 Independence Ave., SW, Washington D.C., 20591 or online at www.faa.gov.

Airport Security

In recent years airports have enhanced their security procedures as a reaction to increased terrorist activity. These changes are especially noticeable within the U.S. and, as an addition to the regular baggage screening procedures, there are now more security checks. Such checkpoints will screen both luggage and passengers, while additional security teams are stationed to search travelers who trigger detector alarms.

Carry on luggage regularions have also been tightened and, while most passengers are aware of many changes, there are a few important things you can do to help smooth the process. A full list of regulated items is available from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Web site,www.tsa.gov/public/index.jsp, or call 1-866-289-9673 in the U.S.

Another security change is the introduction of random passenger inspections, in which security personnel perform a complete search of both traveler and carry on baggage. Because of the additional security measures, passengers should plan to arrive at most airports one hour before domestic flights and two hours before international flights. In more crowded airports, add an addtional hour to these times.

There is a checklist many travelers may wish to complete to help avoid any security troubles.

  • The carry-on limit is one carry-on bag plus one private item such as a briefcase, laptop case, or purse per passenger. A laptop case is not considered a personal item unless it contains a laptop.

  • Avoid wearing metal objects such as heavy jewelry, steel-toed boots, or bulky belt buckles, since these items could set off the checkpoint detectors.

  • If you have any metal surgical implants, it's wise to bring a note from your doctor to avoid a long meeting with an airport official.

  • Pack food and beverage containers in your carry-on bag as opposed to your checked luggage because some food items may activate the bomb-detection machines.

  • Do not take wrapped presents with you. If the package sets off a detector, security officials will be forced to unwrap, and may damage, the present.

  • Always have your government-issued photo ID on hand - this is required for security clearance. U.S. domestic flights do not require children under the age of 18 to carry a photo ID; however, the adult accompanying or checking in with them must present one.

  • Remember that you will only be allowed to pass through security with a ticket for travel. An official confirmation page for an e-ticket will suffice. Make sure you have your ticket or e-ticket confirmation page and your ID before you get to the airport (Non-ticketed persons can only pass through if accompanying a child or an elderly or disabled person).

  • Confirm your flight before heading to the airport.

Despite all of this, in 2013 Cyril E. King International embarked on a major effort to make getting through customs an easier, more streamlined process. To do this, King International now offers TSA Pre-Check. This means that frequent fliers that have been approved by TSA may receive expedited screening benefits which include leaving on their footwear, belts, jewelry, and other personal items as they go through security.

Despite these rules, you will find your flight to be an easy one - with the hardest part being the anticipation.

Air Charters

Charter planes are the other option when choosing to fly. However, this alternative is not for everyone. With smaller planes and bumpier rides, charter planes can make some people uncomfortable. However, those who do not mind a little turbulence will probably love the fact that they can personalize routes and schedules. Most charters, depending on how private your flight is, may even take a scenic route over some beautiful aerial views of cities and landscapes, so do not be afraid to ask.

If you are starting to research an air charter, you can call one of the following regional companies:

Charter Operators
Name Phone Location Island
Air America Pick-up Service at STT (787) 276-5669 Cyril E King Airport - 2.9 mi. (4.7 km) West of Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
Air America Pick-up Service at STX (787) 276-5669 Henry E Rohlsen Airport - 5.5 mi. (8.8 km) East of Frederiksted St. Croix
Bohlke International Airways (340) 778-9177 Henry E Rohlsen Airport - 5.5 mi. (8.8 km) East of Frederiksted St. Croix
Capitol Air (340) 777-9177 Cyril E King Airport - 2.9 mi. (4.7 km) West of Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
Caribbean Buzz Helicopters (340) 775-7335 Cyril E King Airport - 2.9 mi. (4.7 km) West of Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
Fly BVI Pickup Service from STT (284) 495-1747 Cyril E King Airport - 2.9 mi. (4.7 km) West of Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
Sea Flight (340) 714-3000 The US Virgin Islands
Shoreline Aviation at STT (340) 642-3000 Cyril E King Airport - 2.9 mi. (4.7 km) West of Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas

As you can see, flying into the US Virgin Islands is relatively easy, no matter where in the world you are. Numerous direct flights from the US, and plenty from the Caribbean means whether you are in Europe or South America, you are at most two or three transfers from the US Virgin Islands.

 

Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.