Regional carrier LIAT has once again come under fire for its poor service.
A passenger who travelled on the airline this week posted an account of the ordeal she and other passengers suffered when they checked in for what was to be a simple two hour flight from Trinidad to Guyana.
Shakirah M Bourne wrote on Facebook that the LIAT Flight 393 to Guyana turned into a seven hour flight to three countries.
“We arrived at the LIAT Check-In line at 4:40pm, an hour before the scheduled flight, and reached the counter at 5:10pm. The LIAT attendant was visibly pissed off, not at us, he re-assured, but because an employee was supposed to check the line to make sure all the travellers to Guyana were expedited. He told us, however, he would still let us on the flight since it was slightly delayed, and that we should RUSH to the counter.
“We raced through the airport and reached the LIAT boarding counter, only to be told there would be an update about the 5:40pm flight at 6:30pm. After speaking to some other travellers, we found out that LIAT announced there was a problem with the plane, and they were waiting for information from St. Lucia. We shook our heads, and went to have a quick snack. It was LIAT after all, and expected. At 6:30pm, we got an announcement that the flight would be boarding at 7:30pm,” she recounted.
“After waiting on the plane for approximately one hour, at 8:30 pm we were told that the plane had to go to St. Lucia to pick up stranded passengers, and then would head directly to Guyana. There were a couple voices of dissent, but most were just relieved that the plane was taking off. While we were still in ascent, it was announced that because of the extra stop to St. Lucia, the plane did not have enough fuel, and ALL of the luggage had to be unloaded from the plane. We would all have to fill out lost baggage forms when we reached Guyana,” she recalled.
She said no one was given the option to stay in Barbados with their luggage and travel the next day and one man complained that he had medication in his checked bag, and would have gladly travelled the next day.
“Our flight attendant promptly disassociated himself from the LIAT company, declaring on the intercom that there was nothing he could do, and it was a command from “the system” and the manager in Antigua. When we reached St Lucia, our flight attendant told us ‘I going home. My shift is over’. The pilot came out of the cockpit, and when asked how long before we would be taking off to Guyana, he said “I just driving the bus. I don’t know”, and left the plane.
“At this point, while waiting on the new passengers to board from St. Lucia, an attendant came on board and whispered something in the ear of a business traveller, who was with his family. The man got up from his seat, and proceeded to take his luggage out the overhead. I was told, ‘we have to go back to Barbados.’ I was horrified for them, not understanding why they would fly the man to St. Lucia, only to return him to Barbados. The new flight crew boarded the aircraft, and welcomed us to Flight 309 to Trinidad.”
Bourne said at that point pandemonium erupted as passengers insisted they were going to Guyana and not to Trinidad.
“People refused to go to Trinidad. It was too much. There were passengers on the plane who not only missed connections in Guyana, but had PAID EXTRA for the direct flight there. I was sooo angry…People were so angry! It was the level of disrespect by LIAT. They simply DID NOT CARE about the ordeal they were putting their passengers through. People actually tried to get off the plane, and were told to get back to their seats. At this point, we told them we were being kidnapped. Everyone, including myself, was yelling. Part of my frustration was that we could not direct our anger at the people responsible for these decisions,” she said.
Bourne said the new pilot, Captain Michael Collins, tried to “pacify” the situation over the intercom, by telling them that the flight was going to Trinidad, and those who did not like it could get off the plane.
She said police were called on board to control the angry crowd and the Captain then stated that he was trying to get to Guyana before the airport closed.
“LIAT had passengers stranded from St Lucia to Trinidad, from St Lucia to Guyana and from Trinidad to Guyana, and instead of bringing in a new plane for those 15 or so passengers, they decided to delay approx 50 passengers on a 5:40pm flight direct to Guyana from Barbados (WHEN NOTHING WAS WRONG WITH THE PLANE), so that they could collect all the stranded passengers around the region!!!!!!”
The flight landed in Guyana at 1:00 am.
Bourne said there was no offer of food, or compensation to any of the passengers.
She assured that a letter with more details would be sent to LIAT’s head office.
“I hope that some level of compensation is offered to the passengers and this nonsense does not continue to happen,” she said.