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Old 03-06-2015, 13:07   #1
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Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

My wife and I are flying from SFO to St Maarten the 19th of this month to pick up for delivery back to the US the boat which we have just purchased in St Martin. Crew is flying from Seattle. I was concerned that the airlines would not let us board without proof of return or ongoing tickets from SXM as that is a St Maarten immigration requirement.

I was planning bringing a copy of the Bill of Sale and sending my crew a letter stating that she would be sailing out as crew, but the person that answered a call to American Airlines customer service flatly states that without ongoing transportation, or a waiver from St Maarten immigration, they will not let us board. I have sent a letter to St Maarten immigration asking for a statement (no one answers the listed phone), but do not have high hopes for quick bureaucracy, even Dutch bureaucracy.

Has anyone else had any experience with convincing airlines to let you board an international flight without return tickets?

For what it's worth, last month I was turned away from the same AA counter in SFO for having a passport that would expire in 2 1/2 months, even though my return flight to the US would be in five days. St Maarten does not require that the passport be valid beyond the duration of the stay - that's an airline policy. Fortunately, I was able to get a rush passport renewal and fly the next day.
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Old 03-06-2015, 13:58   #2
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

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Originally Posted by Grateful View Post
My wife and I are flying from SFO to St Maarten the 19th of this month to pick up for delivery back to the US the boat which we have just purchased in St Martin. Crew is flying from Seattle. I was concerned that the airlines would not let us board without proof of return or ongoing tickets from SXM as that is a St Maarten immigration requirement.

I was planning bringing a copy of the Bill of Sale and sending my crew a letter stating that she would be sailing out as crew, but the person that answered a call to American Airlines customer service flatly states that without ongoing transportation, or a waiver from St Maarten immigration, they will not let us board. I have sent a letter to St Maarten immigration asking for a statement (no one answers the listed phone), but do not have high hopes for quick bureaucracy, even Dutch bureaucracy.

Has anyone else had any experience with convincing airlines to let you board an international flight without return tickets?

For what it's worth, last month I was turned away from the same AA counter in SFO for having a passport that would expire in 2 1/2 months, even though my return flight to the US would be in five days. St Maarten does not require that the passport be valid beyond the duration of the stay - that's an airline policy. Fortunately, I was able to get a rush passport renewal and fly the next day.
Last time I flew to Panama to board a boat I had a letter from the owner that did the job with the airline.

You rightly understood that one thing are the rules of the destination country and another thing is the whim of the airline employee at origin. You can do all the research you want on both.. ..but why spend time on that if you can buy cheap tickets with free cancellation within 24 hours from expedia.com and cheaptickets.com?
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Old 03-06-2015, 14:01   #3
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

Call American back until you find the right customer service person, or fly another airline.
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Old 03-06-2015, 17:40   #4
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

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...buy cheap tickets with free cancellation within 24 hours from expedia.com and cheaptickets.com?
That's a good last resort. I suppose I could just make the Expedia reservation that morning and cancel as soon as I have my boarding passes...
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Old 03-06-2015, 22:36   #5
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

This last March we flew to St Maarten from Seattle to sail our boat back to the BVI. When asked we simply said we were picking up our boat. Same thing happened when my daughter and her boyfriend flew to St Maarten to meet us in December and again we sailed to BVI. They had no problems either? We did not have round trip tickets either time.


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Old 03-06-2015, 23:49   #6
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pirate Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

I've flown in on a one way several times.. only thing that seemed to bother them was my not having an address for my stay. So the lady at immigration booked me into her cousins guest house/bar in Phillipsburg..
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Old 04-06-2015, 03:50   #7
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

Neither I nor my crew have had a problem with one way flights to SXM. They usually ask which side of the island the boat is on, and the boat's name.



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Old 04-06-2015, 07:15   #8
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

I noticed a sign recently in a Customs and Border Patrol office when I was checking in that stated that all international travel requires that your passport have six months before expiration.
The airline should have explained that to you.
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Old 04-06-2015, 09:37   #9
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

Create a letter to yourself and anyone else needing one for an airline.
I'll lookup language I've use and will post it here in a few hours.

When filling out the customs/immigration landing card for SXM they'll ask where you are staying.
Indicate s/y "Boat Name" at Marina Port Louus in Marigot on the French side. The airport is on the Dutch side and if they know you're going to the French side, they will not ask for papers or letters (at least I've never been asked).
For AA you could always buy a fully refundable ticket from SXM to SJU then cancel it.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:16   #10
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

Check the price on your tickets. Often roundtrip fare is as cheap or cheaper than a one-way (or at least they're close). Buy a roundtrip and use the outbound leg. If you buy refundable, you may even be able to get future credit for the unused leg (but that's airline policy and changes by the day).
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:22   #11
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

This may be way too complicated but I have done it many times. Fly to St. Thomas. Take fast ferry to Tortola then shuttle to St. Martin. Maybe things have changed since I have been there last.
Also sometimes you need to call Carib phones over and over until they answer.
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Old 04-06-2015, 11:10   #12
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

add a leg from St Maarten to U.S.V.I. where you would spend one day in St Maarten then fly out the next morning. Doing this you show on paper that you do not need a return ticket. When in St Maarten call and cxl that last leg.
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Old 04-06-2015, 18:32   #13
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

I had the same issues when I travelled to Spain for an atlantic crossing...no return ticket. I read the same requirements regarding documentation.

I had a letter from the boat owner/skipper with all the boat info and my designation as crew.

No one ever asked. I was ready to answer all questions. But customs, airlines, no one, ever asked a single question. They just stamped my passport.
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Old 04-06-2015, 19:08   #14
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grateful View Post
My wife and I are flying from SFO to St Maarten the 19th of this month to pick up for delivery back to the US the boat which we have just purchased in St Martin. Crew is flying from Seattle. I was concerned that the airlines would not let us board without proof of return or ongoing tickets from SXM as that is a St Maarten immigration requirement.

I was planning bringing a copy of the Bill of Sale and sending my crew a letter stating that she would be sailing out as crew, but the person that answered a call to American Airlines customer service flatly states that without ongoing transportation, or a waiver from St Maarten immigration, they will not let us board. I have sent a letter to St Maarten immigration asking for a statement (no one answers the listed phone), but do not have high hopes for quick bureaucracy, even Dutch bureaucracy.

Has anyone else had any experience with convincing airlines to let you board an international flight without return tickets?

For what it's worth, last month I was turned away from the same AA counter in SFO for having a passport that would expire in 2 1/2 months, even though my return flight to the US would be in five days. St Maarten does not require that the passport be valid beyond the duration of the stay - that's an airline policy. Fortunately, I was able to get a rush passport renewal and fly the next day.
SMX has some bureaucratic officials unfortunately. I was whisked off to gaol for flying in and sailing out. Chief of police apologized and the officious female at airport immigration lost her job due to support I received from police, marina that stored my boat and the sailing community.
I spent a lot of time in SMX and eventually saved hassles and money by informing airport personnel on arrival that I was going to the French side. French are much more laid back than the Dutch that have a noticeable chip on their shoulder since gaining more autonomy from the Netherlands. Like to exercise authority.
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Old 04-06-2015, 20:08   #15
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Re: Flying into St Maarten without return flight ticket...

The SXM people are not the problem. Its the airline that wont let you leave....
Just have a Plan B in your mind, some crew have used the 24 hour cancellation route.
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