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TOURISM COMMISSIONER: Government Has Struck A Deal With American Airlines To Fly Tourists Off Of St. Croix In Advance of Hurricane Maria … For Free!

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CHRISTIANSTED — Lesson learned from Hurricane Irma.

If the government waits until after the storm to evacuate tourists it could take days … even a week before visitors can leave.

This time, with a Category 4 storm in the name of Hurricane Maria facing St. Croix, the Virgin Islands government says that it is working with American Airlines to evacuate people BEFORE the storm.

“The Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands is working with American Airlines today Monday, September 18 to help transport visitors and residents from St. Croix to Miami,” Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said via Facebook. “We are trying to accommodate passengers (priority is given to persons with medical needs, pregnant women, the elderly and women with young children) on an American Airlines mercy flight, which departs Henry E. Rohlsen Airport at 2 p.m.”

Tourists on St. Thomas and St. John were trapped on those islands for at least seven days following the passing of Category 5 storm Hurricane Irma about two weeks ago.

“To ensure we have a smooth process, it’s absolutely critical that the airline receives a manifest with personal details about each passenger,” Nicholson-Doty said. “Seats are complimentary. To register, please call the VITEMA Tourism Desk at the Emergency Operations Command on St. Croix at 340 773-2244.”

Nicholson-Doty said the amount of baggage every passenger is allowed to take will be limited.

“Passengers are responsible for their onward travel from Miami,” she said. “Passengers are allowed one checked bag (limited to 50 pounds) and one carry-on only. Small pets must be placed in a cage which can be placed under the seat in front of you. If you are traveling with a service animal, please provide required medical documentation. We will not be able to accommodate everyone on this flight as seats are limited. Thank you for your patience and thank you American Airlines for your partnership.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

1 Comment

  1. September 18, 2017 at 12:28 PM — Reply

    I just called AA and asked if this was true. The customer service person I spoke with checked for me and said they have no knowledge of this, only that they were allowing changes to current reservations. Please comment as I am very concerned.

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