The Caribbean Airlines experience has left a sour taste for all things Caribbean travel. As a responsible returning national, I held up my end of the bargain: I researched flights many months ahead of time, purchasing in February for an early August 2nd trip, I kept both bags under weight, I showed up on time, and followed all the rules. But as they say, a straight flight is the best flight.
In my two-legged journey, I was enjoying the experience until we started being lied to. From JFK to Port of Spain, we traveled in the relative comfort of a Boeing 737; we had attentive flight attendants, and acceptable meals. However, upon arriving in Trinidad, the lies began.
After having our bags re-checked, we proceeded to the stated gate for our connecting flight. One of the passengers noticing the size of the small transit plane asked the desk attendant if our bags would all fit – first lie, but in hindsight maybe not a lie, “Your bags will join you in Grenada.” Only he didn’t say when….
In fact one of the passengers commented that they saw the baggage truck with our bags driving away from the plane not toward it. So dispatchers that be, knew, that we would not be getting our bags, yet they chose not to warn us.
Secondly, because some passengers carry-ons could not fit in the overhead bins, these were also checked, while promising that it would join them in Grenada, leaving them in most cases with no clothes but the ones on their backs when we arrived in Grenada.
In Baggage Claims, thirty to forty hungry people at 8.30 a.m. in the morning found out that their bags did not arrive. One person remarked that Caribbean Airline seemed to care more about scheduling use of their small planes than about getting people to their destination with luggage in hand.
To compound the stress, there were five agents to individually fill out paperwork for thirty odd people! Why can’t we fill out the paper work and you verify? We asked. Of course, by policy, only agent could fill out the paperwork that consisted of customer information that we needed to provide! (The flight I came in on was BW551/BW440 on 2 Aug)
The third lie was offered at this point. When will our bags be brought in? There will be two flights today we were told – One at 12:30 p.m. and one at 9:45 p.m. Our luggage would be brought in on one or both of the flights and we could be assured to get them today.
We were all supposed to call 439-0681 at 1:30 p.m. to find out if our bags were on the first flight or not. Again as a patsy or naïve customer, I called dutifully at 1:30, 1:40, 1:50 – there is a pattern.
I could not get anyone to pick up. Eventually I had to resort to what people in Grenada lovingly call links. I called up a friend of mine who works on the airport to find out what was going on. He responded things were a mess and I should just go down to see.
At 7:30 p.m. that night I went to the airport and inquired, but no go. The bags were not there. I called back the next day and was told that the 9:45 flight did not have all the bags so to call back again at 10:30 p.m. Aug 3.
Others and myself are in danger of having our bags missing for two days, and now is a good time to state that I had frozen food stuff in the luggage. At this point, my only outlet is to write this opinion piece. I hope that this can help Caribbean Airlines in the future.
There is no way that one of the premier outlets to access the Caribbean should operate in this manner. We have to do better or else face the consequences. Next time I look for a flight home, Caribbean Airlines will be my last choice instead of my first.