Aug 10, 2013 News Comments Off on Airline passengers complain as peak season woes continue
By Zena Henry
Taken on a rather strange odyssey, she never could have imagined until it actually happened. A Guyana-born US-based woman is livid with Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) for taking her on a highly unusual route that saw her leaving Guyana in mid-afternoon on Friday 2nd August, and arriving in New York nearly 20 hours after.
The passenger, Lorraine Oudkerk, was booked to travel on flight BW 407 to New York from Georgetown. The route included Barbados, but to the consternation of herself and other passengers, after Trinidad, the aircraft flew south to Guyana, picked up passengers and then eventually to John F. Kennedy in New York where she arrived late the next morning.
According to Oudkerk, she had not been told that the aircraft would be taking her back to Guyana. The Brooklyn resident said she took the flight sometime around 14:25 hours for the islands. Her understanding of the ticket, she said, was that at 20:10 hours that Friday evening, the plane, BW528, would be departing from Trinidad to NY.
Oudkerk said she however learnt from a passenger that the plane was in fact going back to Guyana. The woman said she consulted an air hostess who confirmed the neighbouring passenger’s declaration.
By this time, all the flight attendants had surrounded her and they too could not understand the unusual route. Slightly ill and anxious to get back to the ‘Big Apple’, the woman said she was confused and dismayed as to why she was heading back to her native land.
She said a flight attendant took her information and promised to report the matter, before offering a few choice words for her to tell the travel agent. To date, the woman continued, no one has made contact with her from the airline.
“Had I known this was the case, I would have stayed in Guyana and taken the late flight straight to New York. I wouldn’t buy a ticket that would take me all over the place, wasting time and money. They told me to consult my travel agent, but there is no one to consult. I bought my ticket online since March,” the woman argued.
Caribbean Airlines told Kaieteur News that several reasons could have caused the customer to return to Guyana via the route used. It was noted that there are originating flights out of Trinidad which would come to Guyana for passengers and then on to New York. On the other hand, passengers buying tickets may look for cheap fares and accept rather unusual travel routes.
They explained that passengers who experience any irregularities during the use of the airline should make contact with the agency to alleviate any unwanted situations.
CAL commands the GT/ NY route. It has held a monopoly since the last New York-bound Delta airline pulled out of Guyana in May, and reviews, especially from Guyanese passengers have not been exactly flattering. At one point, several Guyana-bound passengers were stranded when the airline failed to make connecting flights from New York due to inclement weather. Stranded passengers in Trinidad had protested, with police officers being called in. They demanded that the airline find an alternate flight to Georgetown.
A similar incident occurred when a Guyanese woman collapsed after spending some three days at the John F Kennedy Airport because of canceled flights. Some 300 passengers bound for Georgetown had blocked boarding gates when they were being left behind while passengers were making their way to other Caribbean destinations via CAL.
Currently, passengers complain about the airline’s high ticket prices, which are forcing local authorities to speak out. The government had even threatened to revoke the airline’s recently acquired flag carrier status. The government announced that an audience was requested with senior executives of the Caribbean Airlines (CAL) to discuss the matter.
The “Caribbean Airline” LIAT is also facing stiff criticism. Passengers remain frustrated over the delayed flights and especially the loss or delay of luggage. One complainant, requesting anonymity, said she is demanding compensation for having to spend extra money to buy clothing for herself and children after her luggage was left behind by the airline. The woman said she wants to know whether she will be compensated for perishables that were being transported in her suitcase.
The Plaisance woman told Kaieteur News that she and her three children had traveled from Guyana to Barbados for Crop Over celebrations. Although the flight was delayed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport by one hour, the woman said her bag never got to Barbados. Within the luggage were seasoned fish, white pudding, and other cooked food, intended for friends and family.
She said that she had to be spending money for travel back and forth since she stays nowhere close to the airport. Another disgruntled Georgetown-based passenger complained that while on her vacation, she did not receive her luggage and had to spend extra cash buying clothing and other personal items. On her return to Guyana, the flight had been delayed by almost 10 hours, she claimed.
LIAT was recently blasted for its “poor customer service” by a parent whose child was travelling alone. Before that, the company had also been slammed for a similar incident.
Contact to LIAT on these issues was not responded to.
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