LAS VEGAS — It was a cold, rainy day in early January, and as the flight attendants took off from Newark Liberty International Airport to San Francisco, a few passengers on a flight from the US Virgin Islands to the US mainland were taking a detour to the airport.
They were heading to a business conference in the United Kingdom.
It was just another day in a busy world, but the flight attendant told them to wait until the next morning to book.
“It’s not like I’m not going to make it,” she said.
The airline they were on, Spirit Airlines, had been a popular choice for travelers on the mainland.
Spirit’s business travelers had a relatively low flightbooking rate, according to data compiled by FlightAware, a flight tracking app.
Spirit had the highest average ticket price per seat in the US.
So the Virgin Islands airline that they were booking to take them to had a lot of business travelers on it.
The Virgin Islands has one of the largest business travel diaspora in the world.
More than 40 percent of the island’s population is working or studying overseas, according the World Bank.
That has created a lot more pressure on the islands economy and created a significant increase in demand for the islands business class seats.
“You have people in the Virgin Isles who are on a lot, who want to come and see the world, and you have the islanders who are just going to sit there and wait,” said Mark Smith, president of the Virgin Island Business Association.
The US Virgin Islanders have a much higher income than the mainlanders and are much less likely to use food stamps.
That makes the US economy a major draw for many Virgin Islanders.
They are also used to working remotely, often working at restaurants or bars, and living in big houses with multiple rooms, Smith said.
Spirit Airlines has been offering some premium business class flights to the Virgin Islanders, including to the islands most popular destinations: San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The company offers an average of $400 for the Virgin’s business class seat.
“We’re very pleased with the business class fares,” said Spirit’s CEO, John Molloy.
“Our flights are the most affordable, which is very important to our business travelers, who are not paying for a lot.
It makes it easier for them to spend money, because we’re not charging them to come here.”
So, how can Virgin Islands business travelers book their flights on Spirit Airlines?
The airline has partnered with the US Department of Homeland Security to offer more flexible fares for US Virgin Island businesses.
“The Department of Commerce has approved us to provide an option for Virgin Island business travelers to book their Spirit flights on the airline’s website, so we’re able to provide that option for them,” Mollary said.
Mollay said that customers who are looking for cheaper tickets to the mainland will not have to pay for Spirit to book the tickets for them.
The flights to San Jose and Los Gatos, California, on Spirit’s route to San Diego are not included in the discounted Spirit flights to those cities.
Spirit has partnered up with American Express and Delta Airlines to offer the same options for Virgin Islands businesses.
American Express is offering a cheaper Spirit flight option for US businesses.
The cheapest Spirit flight on Spirit flights is $749.
That flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico, costs $948.
That same flight is on sale at Spirit’s website for $2,049.
It’s also available for $1,995 for US residents.
“Spirit is a great partner in helping Virgin Island families get to their destinations,” said American Express spokeswoman Elizabeth Riddle.
“Their ability to offer affordable fares to our customers and to work remotely makes it easy for them and their families to plan their travel and is a benefit to Virgin Islanders.”
It’s not just the Spirit flights that Virgin Island is partnering up with.
Mollsay said Spirit has made an offer to other US Virgin islands as well.
“I have to say, they are very pleased that Spirit is partnering with us, because they have a very strong business base in the islands,” he said.
In fact, a US Virgin island business owner told Fox News the Spirit offer makes it more affordable to buy a business class ticket for Virgin Islanders to fly to the island.
“They are a big seller here, especially for the mainland,” said George Smith, owner of Smiths Lanes in San Juan.
“Most of the business people that are going to the Caribbean, they’re going to be staying at their houses, they have to be out of town, they don’t have a lot to do, and the Spirit offers them a lot.”
But the Virgin islands business community is skeptical about the Spirit business class option.
“There is no such thing as Spirit business business class,” said Richard Brown, director of communications for the US Caribbean Chamber of Commerce.
“When you have a major carrier, it’s going to get a lot harder to