Flights to St Barts are always a little more labor intensive to arrange than other flights into the Caribbean. The island is not terribly easy to arrive at and restrictions abound on which planes can land at the very small and narrow island runway in Gustavia. One of the cheaper options for getting to St Barts island is the fly into nearby St Maarten and then hop on a small charter flight. There are also ferries available to travel from St Maarten to St Barts as well as short flights to St Barts from both Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe.
At slightly over 2,000 feet, the St Jean Airport landing strip, by St Jean Beach, is makeshift at best. It is made for welcoming short take-off and landing planes, otherwise known as STOL planes, which rarely have more than nineteen passenger seats. The landing itself is one of the most difficult pilot endeavors anywhere; pilots plunge down between two predominant mountains and then must pull back on controls suddenly to land at the airport without over-flying the boundary. Anyone planning to fly to St Barts will always arrive during the day—after dark no planes are permitted to land or depart.
The popular route from St Maarten to St Barts is a quick one and can often save money, too. Some charter a flight and enjoy a private ride over lasting little more than fifteen minutes. Three major airlines make the shuttle flight, including Winair and St Barth Commuter. Getting to St Barts island from St Maarten means departing from Queen Juliana Airport and taking one of the eighteen regular, daily flights to St Barts. The two other main gateways of Guadeloupe and St Thomas also offer daily flights to St Barts. Five daily flights from Guadeloupe and two daily flights from St Thomas are available.
Nonstop flights to St Barts from anywhere in North America are not available unless you’re flying in a small private plane. And even than, your pilot must have a special permit to land. The route from North America to St Maarten to St Barts is the top choice and features the most flexibility when arranging flights. Though getting to St Barts island might seem like a hassle, once all connections are arranged, it’s not bad at all. Inter-island flights are generally very scenic even if they are a bit bumpy.
There are a few tips and tricks to follow when taking flights to St Barts. If you check your bags so they travel direct to St Barts, you might not get them back for a couple of days. The best bet is to check them through to your first arrival point and then onward with the inter-island carrier chosen to your final connection. Taking a few essentials onboard is always a good idea. Also, prior to departure, always reconfirm your flight with the inter-island air carrier of your choice. If you miss this paramount step, the airline will cancel your flight.
Once freshly arrived off flights to St Barts, you’ll either be at the pretty Gustavia Harbor or at the nearby airport. Rental cars can often be picked up at the airport or delivered directly to your St Barts hotels or villas. There is a great deal to do within the port area so be sure to make a trip back if there isn’t the time or desire to take a look around right away. Don’t miss the several historic points, excellent shops, and terrific beaches around the main capital.