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Must we suffer LIAT so?

Michael Archibald

Must we suffer LIAT so?

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First, I must give LIAT credit and maximum kudos for its really excellent safety record. As a frequent traveller, for which unlike many other airlines I get no benefit by the way, I take much satisfaction and consolation from LIAT’s approach, concern for and record on safety. I believe they go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the safety of their passengers, staff and planes and I am very, very happy about that aspect of their operations because my life is in their hands so very often.

But, having said that and taking nothing away from that safety record, I ask myself the following question repeatedly: Does travel around the OECS with LIAT really have to be so awfully frustrating?

Do I really have to get searched three times between Grenada and St Kitts? Once in Grenada, once in Barbados and once in Antigua? Or between Dominica and Grenada? Once in Dominica, once in Antigua if we go that route, and once in Barbados?

Do I really have to get off the plane when in transit in Barbados, walk all the way down the tarmac and through the holding pen, be searched and them turn around and walk back out on the tarmac and re-board the very same plane in order to continue my journey?

Do the Barbados authorities have to change the arrangements for OECS in transit passengers so often? One day you make the spin around in Gate 9 at one end and then the next day you have to take the long walk down the corridor and through the other in transit door, to then turn around to go back to Gate 9 or, if you are lucky, Gate 11; and then the next day be changed back to the original spin-around in Gate 9 again?

Do we have to line up at the LIAT counter, then line up at security check No. 1 to check documents, line up at security check No. 2 to be searched, line up again when called for boarding and then, by God, line up again out on the hot tarmac in the hot sun to board the plane?

Do the counter agents in some islands have to be so rude and unsympathetic to their long-suffering passengers, even old and disabled ones?

Do the counter agents generally have to be left so lacking in information by the operators/controllers in Antigua that they are generally in no position to tell the frustrated waiting passengers anything most of the time?

Does LIAT have to be late so often so that the old joke Leave Island Any Time is still relevant?

Does the cost of flying between the islands really have to be so high to the extent that I can sometimes fly to Miami from Grenada cheaper on another airline than to Antigua on LIAT?

Do we, after all this time, really believe that we are serious about regional integration and one economic space with the cost of airfares between the islands so high that it prohibits inter-island travel for tourism and business?

Do we realise that the above two do not begin to cover the true cost of inter-island travel which, if it is to be truly accounted for, must in addition to the already high fares include the cost of (a) the time spent sitting waiting at airports for delayed or cancelled flights, (b) missed appointments, (c) additional meals, (d) unplanned for hotel accommodation and (e) even at times clothing and toiletries?

Do we have to suffer the unvarnished crudity, unprofessionalism and sheer rudeness of the middle-aged female immigration officer like the one I was so unfortunate to meet in St Kitts during the second half of last year?

Do we really?

Just some food for thought for the management of LIAT and our governments.

– Michael Archibald,