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Puerto Rico is unique in the Caribbean as one of the islands most visited by air travelers. San Juan's Luis Muñoz Marín (LMM) International Airport is a major interconnecting point to the Caribbean. There are many nonstop flights arriving daily from several airlines, and direct flights from large U.S. airports. This makes air travel the most popular way to reach Puerto Rico.
Nonstop flights from the U.S. to Puerto Rico, including flights from New York (3 hrs. 15 min.) Chicago (4 1/2 hrs), Dallas (4 1/2 hrs) Los Angeles (7 1/2 hrs), Connecticut (3 hours), Washington, DC (3 1/2 hrs), and several Florida locations (ranging in time from 2 to 3 hours) are convenient considerations when planning vacations. Some airlines, such as American, Continental, Delta, Jet Blue, and US Airways, have several daily nonstop flights and some have weekly service. Many direct flights typically connect in San Juan or St. Thomas before heading to their final Caribbean or South American destination. Be sure to remember that nonstop flights are just that, but direct flights often make a stop or two along the way.
Airline travel can be expensive, but there are a few ways travelers have found to cut costs. Booking round-trip tickets will lower the price of tickets, as does traveling at 'off' times and over weekends. If your schedule is flexible, there are many offers for the last minute vacationer.
When traveling to Puerto Rico rely on one of the following airlines, all of which have regularly scheduled flights to this U.S. territory:
Airlines serving Puerto Rico from the United States and Canada:
|American Airlines (AA) and American Eagle||800-433-7300
|Caribbean Helicorp Inc.||787-722-1984|
|Delta Air Lines||800-221-1212
|North American Airlines||787-890-5805|
|United Airlines||800-UNITED-1 (U.S.)
Airlines serving Puerto Rico from Europe:
|Delta Air Lines||800-221-1212
|K.L.M. Royal Dutch Airlines||866-434-0320|
Once you've arrived in Puerto Rico, vacationers may decide to island hop using one of the many small local lines (and even a few larger airlines) listed below. Some airlines offering flights between Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands include:
|Air St. Thomas||800-522-3084
|Caribbean Wings - BVI Air||294-495-6000|
|Charter Flights Caribbean Inc.||787-791-1240
|Isla Nena Air Services||787-741-6362
|Jet Center Inc.||787-791-2323
|VI Air Link||284-495-1652|
|Vieques Air Link||787-741-3266|
U.S. travelers who are unfamiliar with an airline's reputation can consult the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA ranks carriers based on safety, service, and performance. Contact the FAA at: 800 Independence Ave., SW; Washington D.C., 20591 or online at www.faa.gov.
Security measures at airports around the world subject travelers to security checks and baggage screening procedures. Some airports conduct random passenger inspections. It is suggested that travelers arrive at airports earlier than one might think.
The TSA recommends arriving at least 2 hours before your flight. You might also want to check the average security wait times to see how long the lines are at the time you’ll be arriving. Some high-traffic airports require passengers to arrive earlier than these suggested guidelines.
Some other advice can help you avoid long waiting times within the airport:
Confirm the departure time of your flight before leaving for the airport.
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 boarding pass and passport readily accessible for security checkpoints. (Non-ticketed persons can only pass through if accompanying a child or an elderly or disabled person. Check with the airline for required documentation.)
Avoid wearing metal objects such as steel-toed boots, heavy jewelry, or bulky belt buckles, since these items could set off the checkpoint detectors. Remove metal items such as keys, loose change, cell phones and personal data assistants (PDA's) from pockets and place them into the containers provided. Coats, jackets, shoes and other personal items will also need to be removed and screened.
If you have any metal surgical implants, bring a signed note from your doctor to avoid further delays and screenings.
Carry-on luggage regulations have also been tightened. Prohibited items include sharp objects (scissors, razors and nail clippers), sporting goods, tools, and guns and firearms. For the full listing, travelers may contact the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) via their website at http://www.tsa.gov/311/index.shtm or call 1-866-289-9673 in the U.S.
Passengers are only allowed one carry-on bag plus one private item, such as a purse, laptop computer, etc. Generally, on board luggage must be small enough to store below your seat or in the overhead compartment.
Liquids, aerosols and gels toiletries are allowed in 3.4 ounce bottles or less, in a one quart or smaller sized clear, plastic, zip type bag. Be prepared to place this bag on the screening belt to ensure a faster and easier screening.
Drinks and liquids purchased in stores beyond security checkpoints may be brought on board.
If you plan to bring food or gifts with you, it is best to place them in your checked bag or ship them ahead. A list of products which are to be avoided can be found at: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/holiday.shtm.
It is recommended that you do not take any wrapped gifts with you. Consider shipping them or waiting until you arrive at your destination to wrap them.
Be sure to check with the airline for the most up-to-date carry-on baggage regulations, including their specific size and weight limitations, and any possible added fees which may be imposed.
Since Puerto Rico is one of the larger Caribbean islands, there are plenty of ways to travel it. Flying across the island is often popular with travelers. There are smaller airlines with service from one part of Puerto Rico to another, and companies that offer charter services, as well. Of course, island-hopping jets can also take vacationers from one Caribbean island to another.
Domestic flights depart from the main International Airport as well as the Fernando L. Rivas Dominici Airport, located on Isla Grande near Miramar and San Juan. Flights out of LMM International fly to Aguadilla, Fajardo, Mayagüez, and Ponce. Tourists looking to reach Vieques and Culebra will have to leave from Dominici Airport. No matter where you're going, remember to pay the departure tax. Some airlines may include this with the cost of your ticket, so be sure to ask the airline or your travel agent to avoid paying twice.
Travelers to Puerto Rico will find flying one of the most convenient ways to reach the island. With consistent schedules and several flight options, it's easy to see why this is the most popular way to arrive.
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