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American Airlines’ new BVI route has rough start

I recently wrote about how the vibe in the British Virgin Islands is changing, from 5 key developments that are underway.

Number 3 on that list? Travelling to the BVIs is becoming more difficult.

Enter American Airlines. Last week, they achieved a big milestone, landing the first nonstop flight from the U.S. to the BVI airport at Beef Island.

However, a few things have already happened that took the wind out of AA’s sails.

First direct flight lands in BVI from Miami | source: BVI News

A rough start for American Airlines in the British Virgin Islands

If you haven’t been following along with the drama, here is a timeline of events for AA’s new daily route to BVI:

  • May 25: AA successfully completes a test run
  • May 26: the EIS airport is closed due to staffing issues in the control tower, stranding many charter crews
  • June 1: the first flight with passengers arrives!
  • June 3: AA is delayed by 3 hours when a cargo plane blew a tire on the runway at Beef Island
  • June 4: the AA plane is weight restricted due to a southerly wind, hot temperatures, and a shorter runway. The flight is delayed and some passengers are deplaned as well as all of the luggage. No hotel vouchers were provided since it was weather related!
  • June 5: due to the southerly wind again, the flight has to make a pit stop in Puerto Rico for fuel


While the closure and cargo plane were out of their control, American will always have to contend with an unfavorable wind forecast. Hopefully these events do not test AA’s resolve and they stick with plans for 1-2 daily flights during the charter season.

Perhaps the BVI government should hold off on that $250,000 concert they are planning as a celebration for the new route.

Axopar water taxi
If it's in the budget, the best way to get to BVI is a water taxi from St. Thomas

A better way to get to BVI

It’s always been about jumping through hoops to get to BVI. There is no simple way to do it. Buckle up for a full day of travel.

Even with the addition of the AA route, that only solves for 80 passengers per flight. Larger aircraft can’t make the trip because of the short runway.

I’ve done it before, but I will no longer fly to BVI. Here are the other ways to get to the British Virgin Islands.

The AA route is pricey, and I also don’t trust the regional carriers with connections from Puerto Rico. Some of them are struggling, such as Silver Airlines which was recently facing eviction from Fort Lauderdale due to a debt.

Instead, take a direct flight to STT, offered multiple times a day from Miami, New York, Atlanta, and others. Flight delayed or cancelled? You still have a chance to get on another flight that day.

Many people swear by the Charlotte Amalie public ferry as a reliable way to arrive.

Better yet, if it’s in the budget, book a private water taxi. Here’s how it works:

  • Taxi from STT to Red Hook
  • Board right away
  • Crack a cold beer and enjoy the ride
  • Your crew will clear customs while you stay on the boat
  • They deliver you directly to your marina of choice

Hard to beat, but a couple words of caution. You’ll pay up for this option – generally ~$1,250+. Secondly, some taxis can only fit 6 passengers, which might not work for a larger crew.

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