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Old 07-10-2017, 01:34 PM   #1
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One way flight to Bahamas

I bought a one way flight to Marsh Harbour for my wife and younger son. They have other commitments and couldn't make the crossing on the boat with me and my older son, and since I didn't know if they would be coming back across to FL on the boat I thought the one way ticket made sense. Now I'm reading that the airline won't let you board to the Bahamas without proof of a return flight. Is there a way around this?
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Old 07-10-2017, 01:39 PM   #2
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I suspect that proof of a boat at the other end is all that is required, but hey I'm just the piano player.
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Old 07-10-2017, 01:43 PM   #3
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I bought a one way flight to Marsh Harbour for my wife and younger son. They have other commitments and couldn't make the crossing on the boat with me and my older son, and since I didn't know if they would be coming back across to FL on the boat I thought the one way ticket made sense. Now I'm reading that the airline won't let you board to the Bahamas without proof of a return flight. Is there a way around this?

Never heard of that one... and I've got a LOT of time in the air, but mostly as a pilot. I have purchased RT tickets at times, or a multi stop ticket, and just got off at the first stop. Sometimes cheaper than a one way. However, I've never had trouble purchasing a one way ticket.

What airline is doing this?
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Old 07-10-2017, 02:03 PM   #4
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United is the Airline. I called them and they said they would t let them board without proof of return flight.

Also saw that Bahamas customs requires proof of return, but a copy of a cruising permit will suffice. That's how I thought I was going to handle it, but if United will not let them board the plane that's not gonna work obviously.
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Old 07-10-2017, 02:38 PM   #5
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Very common with many Caribbean countries. Usual procedure is to email your guests a copy of the clearance or cruising permit from the boat and a statement from the captain (you) that you assume responsibility for them as members of your crew.

You might get by with less but it is always a good idea to have the full paperwork.
American, United and Delta will stop you at the airport without a return ticket going to most of the islands in the Eastern Caribbean. There is an exemption for boating but it frequently requires both proof and some talking.

Another trap to be worried about is the 42 day visa issue. Many of the Eastern Caribbean island countries have limited visa periods for tourists. St. Lucia for example is 42 days. So if your return ticket is 43 days out the airline may deny you boarding. It will be up to you to talk you way through the fact that all (I think) these countries have exemptions for boaters. St. Lucia grants a six month visa only to boaters.

I have had several friends forced to buy return tickets at the ticket counter in order to board their flight.
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Old 07-10-2017, 02:38 PM   #6
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Just get an email from United that your cruising permit is sufficient to board. Print the email for when you board if required. I still think if your going to have an issue it will be when you check in, online.
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Old 07-10-2017, 02:46 PM   #7
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Very common with many Caribbean countries. Usual procedure is to email your guests a copy of the clearance or cruising permit from the boat and a statement from the captain (you) that you assume responsibility for them as members of your crew.

You might get by with less but it is always a good idea to have the full paperwork.
American, United and Delta will stop you at the airport without a return ticket going to most of the islands in the Eastern Caribbean. There is an exemption for boating but it frequently requires both proof and some talking.

I have had several friends forced to buy return tickets at the ticket counter in order to board their flight.

Will this cruising permit need to have their names on it?
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Old 07-10-2017, 03:53 PM   #8
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Will this cruising permit need to have their names on it?
The cruising permit is a Bahamas thing. I doubt it would have the new crews (visitors) names on it. In all these islands what you are trying to establish is that the boat is legally in the country and that you are the captain. This can be done by the cruising permit in the Bahamas or more frequently the clearance papers in the other islands.

For the newbies, do not call your guests "passengers" in clearance parlance that denotes someone who is paying to be transported. These guests are additional crew.
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Old 07-10-2017, 03:59 PM   #9
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Got it. Thanks.
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Old 07-10-2017, 04:07 PM   #10
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You need a statement from the Captain of the boat and a return manifest showing you as being on the boat.
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Old 07-10-2017, 04:11 PM   #11
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I'll add to confirm with United since they appear to be somewhat problematic, but we've had people fly in and out often.

It gets interesting when you have someone flying in to Panama and flying home from Grand Cayman. On that we show our documents we'll use when leaving Panama. Panama then doesn't care where they're going from there.
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Old 07-10-2017, 04:23 PM   #12
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One way flight to Bahamas

How would I confirm with United? Give them the confirmation number and tell them what I intend to do with the cruising permit and other paperwork?

The person I spoke with who said no wasn't helpful at all-- she didn't really understand what I was asking and had to check with someone else, and then came back and just said that they had to have a return ticket.

Is there another department I need to be talking to at United? I was just talking to a reservations agent.

I saw this on Cruiser forum:
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What should a captain's letter look like and say to make it seem official? I saw one site said to use the yacht's letterhead and affix it with the yacht's seal. This may be a shock, but my "yacht" doesn't have its own stamp or seal. Lol.
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Old 07-10-2017, 05:41 PM   #13
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Wish I could help. I have been fighting this battle for years. They don't bother me because my passport and flight records prove that a one way flight is permitted.

Suggestion. Call the Bahamian embassy/consulate in the US and see if they can send you an email explaining that someone getting on a boat does not need a return ticket.

Otherwise you will waste some money but you can buy a fully refundable ticket for the return trip. I understand that today there is some charge for refunding a fully refundable ticket.
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Old 07-10-2017, 06:01 PM   #14
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$400 fee to cancel a flight? I hate United. This is why I normally only fly Southwest.

Now if you cancel within 24 hours there is no charge, so I guess they could buy a return ticket that day, then cancel it before 24 hours, like as soon as they board.
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Old 07-10-2017, 06:28 PM   #15
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The fine print is that a non-refundable ticket is only refundable within 24 hours of purchase if purchased seven or more days before the flight.
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Old 07-10-2017, 06:50 PM   #16
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Oh. Damn. Stupid fine print.
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Old 07-10-2017, 08:09 PM   #17
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Just put together all the documents you can think of. A document from the Captain and easy enough to create a semi-letterhead when you do it. Use a standard template. The manifest for the return trip. Toss in cruising permit if you want, although the person from the Bahama tourist department that I spoke with didn't include it. Overwhelm them with documents. And get there very early so you can go to a manager if the gate person tries to say no. Might even be prepared with a bank statement showing you can afford there and back. I wouldn't offer it, but if it came up I'd show it.

Strangely enough we've never had anyone fly in to meet us in the Bahamas, although we've done it in many other countries. I'd still try to reach someone in a manager position with United and tell them what you're carrying and ask if that meets their requirements. Ask for an email confirmation.
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Old 07-10-2017, 08:51 PM   #18
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Bay Pelican gives good advice.
I've had a number of one way issues.

The first was going to the Bahamas, but not on the airline, Delta, but upon arrival.

Once i tell them I'm departing by boat, that answers the question. I've never been asked for proof.
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Old 07-11-2017, 07:02 AM   #19
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In the past a return ticket has been about the same price as a one way. Purchase the return as an open date and when back in the states cash the ticket in. I've used this in the past many years ago.
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Old 07-11-2017, 07:33 AM   #20
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Might be worth a phone call to Watermakers Air. They are the go-to for many Bahamas locations and would likely be the best people to help. Might need to fly to Lauderdale to transfer to WM Air if it works.
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