Tourist: Barbados locals “all amazing friendly”

Barbados Virgin 747-400

But then Grantley Adams Airport Security gave these visitors something else to remember…

I have just returned from Barbados after spending 14 nights there. I found the locals all amazing friendly, however on our departure security found disposable lighters in my handbag which they removed, no big deal. Then they found a gold dunhill lighter in my husband’s manbag and confiscated that too.

“Did airport security properly log and deposit the valuable gold Dunhill lighter, or was it pocketed and stolen?”

(A question by BFP’s editor Marcus)

I pleaded with the supervisor to allow us to take as his father left it to him when he died, but she refused. I asked if we could post but she said no there are no post boxes, yet there was outside our departure gate. I asked if I could back through to get my luggage and put in the main suitcases, but she was having none of this.

So leaving the island left a rather bad taste with us. We were told it’s probably on the streets right now being sold. So please anyone having anything like a good lighter do not carry on you. Once we went through into departure I refused to buy any duty free goods as I would not spend another penny there.

Yours truly

Sharon Gay



Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

42 responses to “Tourist: Barbados locals “all amazing friendly”

  1. Stephen Maynard

    Sharon, would your comments be the same if these items were conficated when you checked in at Gatwick? Safety onboard aircrafts has to be taken seriously, dont blame the staff at the airport in Barbados. It’s your own silly fault. When items are conficated in the UK there are destroyed, Barbados does the same. It’s documented what items you cannot carry onboard aircrafts and lighters are classed as dangerous good. The staff did they job properly and you should be ashamed by your comments. Just because your British does not give you the right to dictate what other countries should do. Respect others.

  2. BFP

    Hello Stephen,

    The key for me is that is was a valuable gold lighter, and something that belonged to the father, not some Bic disposable. Something could have been done, everybody makes mistakes. Or, did the security personnel have their eye on the valuable Dunhill?

    Poor show by people who could do still their job and be pleasant and service minded to bring the tourists back. If they gave a damn. if they had some leadership. Mrs. Gay probably won’t be back. I hope the security person enjoys their new gold Dunhill lighter.

  3. I have been shown compassion by check-in staff when leaving Gambia to return to the UK, and when leaving the UK to travel to Barbados. Simple compassion is all that was required on this occasion. But then again, I do have a British passport!

  4. Well Well

    In the US, it would also have been confiscated and she would not have complained, she knew the rules and knew better than to not put it in her carryon. Things these tourists cannot do in big countries they always feel they have a god-given right to do in tourist dependent countries……………serves these small islands right for making tourism their only source of foreign exchange, maybe they will learn something from this…………

  5. Name.

    It’s not on the streets for sale.
    It didn’t get destroyed, either.
    It’s enjoying a new user an home

  6. 202

    Dear Mr and Mrs Gay, on behalf of ALL right thinking Barbadians (and you can be assured there are many), please accept our sincere apology for the lack of thoughtfulness and caring of this simpleminded individual who has caused you such grief at the loss of an irreplaceable family treasure. Let us also apologize for the simpletons whose comments above in no way reflect the thinking and attitude of the rest of us. Growing up and living on a small island can sometime affect our feelings of self importance to the detriment of common sense.
    In September of 2007 my wife, three year old daughter and I were returning from a thoroughly enjoyable vacation in the UK through Gatwick. Like you and your husband, I inadvertently forgot to pack my Swiss Army Knife in my checked baggage and only became aware of this while clearing security. This knife represented a birthday gift from my wife to me and took on significance beyond its value. As in any civilized country interested it maintaining a reputation for the upholding of human dignity, airport security asked if I wanted to have the knife confiscated and destroyed OR shipped to my address at my expense. The knife arrived carefully packaged via Parcel Post a couple of weeks later and at great cost. The Barbados Customs proceeded to charge duty (but that’s another story about small island thinking).
    Mr and Mrs Gay, please do not write us off just yet. As you said, it was an enjoyable vacation and the vast majority of Barbadians are friendly. Yes, we have some jackasses who are jackasses, not because they are Barbadian, but because they are jackasses and they will continue to give my country a bad rap, until we get wise enough to train them properly or remove them from critical customer/visitor contact areas.
    Give some thought to the above and once you are no longer ruled by justifiably negative emotions, come see us again. If you contact me via this blog and grace us with your company in Barbados once again, I promise to get your husband a new lighter (you should stop him smoking) and take you to Martins Bay for a lunchtime experience unrivaled anywhere else in the world.

  7. Anonymous

    Firstly as a bajan i have been allowed to back track twice through customs once when i forgot my cellphone in the car and once when i forgot a bottle of rum in my carry on. The security person who dealt with me was quite pleasant and allowed me to rectify my mistake with one catch (which was that i would have to wait in line again) so it seems to depend on who deal with. some people are just asses.

  8. yatinkiteasy

    This was quite a stupid way for the security person to handle this…then again, dont expect much for low paid people who are put in a uniform to do this search and seize operation.
    I would have asked that a supervisor be called in , if the security person was not willing to work with the traveler on this simple matter.This is not to make a scene, but I think they all have a boss on duty who should be able to handle such a problem.
    I can just imagine the situations will arise in late April, in the US when the TSA allows knives of a certain size and type to be carried on board planes.That is one of the most crazy public safety decisions I have heard about in recent years.

  9. Canadian Tourist

    Nothing new here. I find the staff at the airport to be the worst at customer service that I’ve encountered in 35 years of International travel. However, I set my expectations to zero when I get to the airport and have never been disappointed.

  10. Ron

    I left MIA a couple weeks ago and was informed by customs that lighters are now legal once more and was allowed to carry mine.

  11. 144

    I am reading some of the negative comments and have to laugh at the ignorance of so many. For those who can read and understand, skip this, for those who cant, READ first and UNDERSTAND before making biased and meaningless comments. Mrs. Gay was asking if the lighter could be mailed or if it can be kept to be retrieved by someone after it was seized. The UK, USA and Canada would have made provisions for the item to be returned and in some cases its placed in the care of the aircraft staff as would duty free goods be handled. Do you think guns are not allowed on an airplane? THEY DO, they are left in the care of the relative authorities on board. We participat in shooting competitions all over the world and our guns are flown on board as well with all the related documents. So why was the lighter not held to be retrieved later, and if there is no facility to do this, then get on with program, wake up and DO IT.
    The lighter had sentimental value there should have been some sort of process available for it to be returned to its rightful owner. If you want to compare Barbados with the developed world, give your head a shake, wake up and get your facts first before wasting bandwidth.
    If Barbados is touting itself as a tourist heaven, then facilitate it and implement the standards and services as a civilized nation than fool tourists and remain takers. The tourism industry in Barbados is hanging on a thin thread, with rape, murders (worse yet that of tourists) brazen daylight robbery and other crime escalating rapidly, starvation and a collapse of that island will be inevitable. Immigration and customs officers feel like kings but look as though they were beaten to go to work, that’s the attitude they have. Poor Barbados, your own people are pulling you under water oh dear land, we pray for the nice people who work hard and is proud of their hospitality but will suffer in the end.

  12. 144

    To all the authors of supportive and positive posts, may you live long and great citizens in your community, you make the difference.

  13. sith

    @Canadian Tourist

    I am going to try your novel approach. On my last trip it took just over 2 hours to get through immigration and customs. PM flight in from Miami. Everyone getting their bags inspected “E V E R B O D Y’. 8 employees checking passports which takes about 60 seconds and 6 people checking bags which takes at least 5 minutes. Line ups line ups line ups. Get treated quicker and better in Cuba and China. Gone are the days when there was a steel pan band to welcome you.

  14. 144

    I keep seeing and hearing about Officials always making mention about Barbados not being told what to do and how to run things. We seem to have some sort of fear looming over us and a stigma attached to slavery. I don’t know in which era we will overcome that racial issue. We want to run things but in many cases, we ent gat a clue.

  15. 144

    We are diplomats here and its always funny to see someone sitting at the front entrance who will charge after us running to tell us that its a Crew and Diplomatic Line only. HELLO the sign is there and we can read for Christs Sake. What a waste of staff time and tax payers money, put her or him to do something meaningful or take down the fricking sign.

  16. Old School

    Sometimes I wished we never gained Independence. Under the Queen, we ate, were happy and had a beautiful and safe Island. I drive around and look with sadness, we are slowly becoming an Island dump.

  17. Well Well

    With everyone ra raing, I had items sized on my way out of Bim because I did not know everything I should or should not be carrying, it changes so often. Expecting them to mail anything to your home address is expecting too much. Did that stop me or others from going back………..i think not……….keeping being held hostage for the tourist dollar and that is the reaction you will continue to get.

  18. There is a simple way to put a stop to this senescence. Warn everybody traveling to Barbados, to leave everything made out of gold behind,, if they insist on coming here, and, purchase nothing made of Gold in Barbados.

  19. 196

    I’m to and from Bds often several times a year for 14 years and have learned to be on my guard against the rip offs. that lighter incident being a prime example. From the minute you arrive you are pounced upon by redcaps, personal baggage trolley? Are you mad? This is Barbados! Funny how my local taxi co charges 20 dollars less to take me to the airport than it costs to get from the airport, etc. I just stick to my local friends and have a great time whilst avoiding tourist stuff. However if you are a first time visitor you will be shocked at the rip offs, annoyed by touts on the beach and seen as a revenue source at all levels. Everybody knows the airport security people have the reputation of being crooks. I don’t feel sorry for the low pay, it’s the same all over the world. That doesn’t give them the right to steal. At least they have jobs, unlike so many everywhere today. If they continue to treat visitors in such a blatantly undiplomatic way they won’t have any tourist-based jobs left anyway. Gatwick has its faults but even with a far more complex set of passengers to deal with would not have just confiscated such a valuable item without offering a solution. And a signed receipt which is my experience. So my advice is first, remember Barbados is getting more like a 3rd world country every day, be alert for rip offs. Second,just because some of the people you meet are nice, do not let your holiday happiness cloud your judgement, be aware. Third, Bajans don’t “get” customer service. Lastly, stay INSIDE the all-inclusive!

  20. Nostradamus

    @Stephen Maynard

    I was recently in the USA and when I went through security at Miam Airport I had packed an item that was not allowed in carry on luggage. Security found it and gave me the option to take it back and see if I could put it in my checked luggage or mail it or give it to someone on the outside etc.

    And I am not even BRITISH OR AMERICAN!

  21. Mark Fenty

    @ Yatiniteasy
    What makes you think that one’s level of pay determining one’s level of competency? Obviously, you have had the kind of experience that allows you to make such a judgment sir. I know of people in the Private Sector who are being paid substantially less, than they counterparts in the Governmental Sector. But they level of competency exceeds that of they governmental- counterparts, and this has caused regional governments to start outsourcing to the Private- Sector as a means to cut cost. Not only does the Private- Sector do a cheaper job, but they also do a better one. Take America for example, greed has forced many business men in America, to outsource American jobs to places like India and China, because they believe that they can get more for the Buck. Now, I do understand however, that operational cost is much cheaper in that third-world, than in the United States, and this incentive has been one of the fundamental reasons for the outsourcing American jobs. But, these people have thought little about the immediate impact this attitude of greed is having on the American family. Let’s be realistic here for a moment though, would you rather pay someone an hundred dollars hour in America, or two American dollars a day to do the same job in India or China?

  22. anonymous190

    Nothing will ever change in this respect – little people with inflated egos and no training or concept of interacting with people.

  23. Barbados needs change and fast.

    @ “anonymous”
    March 13, 2013 at 12:09 am

    “Nothing will ever change in this respect – little people with inflated egos and no training or concept of interacting with people.”

    The least words which said the most, could not have been put better, this is all that there is to it……well said well put.

  24. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Oh get real. The darn woman did her job. You people do not even know if this person is giving all the facts to this story. Always very quick to criticize and jump on the small island mentality bag wagon or how backward Bajans are. IF the darn lighter was a mechanism for detonating a bomb and it got on the plane you would be hyping about how poor rakey security is in Barbdos and again throwin the backward belittling talk at the natives. Three cheers for a job well done airport security. Next time put the darn lighter in your suitcase. Who cares if you did not buy anything duty free its your fault not the fault of security

  25. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    I hold your comments in contempt. Gold valuable piece or not it is lighter and it is part of the items that must not be found in hand luggage. She should have checked to ensure that all such items were not part of her hand luggage. You are being bias with your comments. The security officer did her job.

  26. 202

    @Sunshine, your insensivity is exceeded only by your lack of sensivity. Pack a GOLD lighter in checked luggage, really!

    BFP, is there any way for you to contact Mr and Mrs Gay to see if the lighter has identifying marks by which they could establish ownership? It should then be just a matter of BFP contacting the Managing Director of the security company (we all know it by name) to enlist his/her help in locating the lighter and mailing it back to this unfortunate couple. Iit is highly unlikely that seized articles are destroyed immediately, and secondly, there can’t be many gold lighters seized on a daily basis. BTA, you need to get on board also!
    Oh dear, I forgot – we have a “Cash for Gold” problem on our hands, that’s where the lighter “Securely” went.

  27. 2 I S 4 U

    @Sunshine Sunny Shine

    You are probably the one who confiscated it, you are extremely biased and fighting tooth and nail defensively.

  28. Karma is a Biatch

    Customs Officers think that they are indispensable on this Island, but we make it our duty to do our part to help curb that, don’t ask how here but its effective. They claim to be so religious but represent the complete opposite of what they are being preached. They should start looking up Karma. We have been to over 40 countries for both business and pleasure and never have we ever experienced such illiterate, unethical, epically unfriendly, unprofessional-ism and gross incompetence as Bajan Customs Officers demonstrate.

    It’s a joke and a disgrace for the Islanders, evidence points to the many articles penned on the Travel Advisory site denouncing and demeaning Barbados in every way possible.

    We are so sorry for the Bajans who are really kind, friendly and appreciative for visitors, the ones who work hard and try their best to make Barbados a memorable place to visit.

    Bajans from the unfortunate brain dead gene pool better pull up their socks before they loose em and hit the streets.
    God bless the Island and all the good and kindhearted Bajans.

  29. Think 1000 times before speaking once.

    @Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Sorry to rain on your day, but you are totally clueless to what the entire subject matter is all about. Go dry yourself off, chill and do your homework.
    Return when you have scored enough marks to contribute to something you understand then to waste key strokes.

  30. Metro

    A couple of years ago I had some liquids in my handbag, all under the required amount. The security guard at GAIA chastissed me for not having them in a ziploc bag (although there was no sign saying this was needed, nor were there any available). He rudely pointed me in the direction of the Ganzee shop where I was made to purchase one AFTER the security checkpoint! I went back o show him my purchase, without the liquids in the same said bag, he then rudely dismissed me with a wave of his hand and a mumbled “g’long”. I am a black Bajan, so this wasn’t a tourist issue.
    In regards to Customs, I read somewhere that it is illeagal to close the ‘green’ Nothing To Declare channel…this was not pertaining to Barbados, just wondered if this was an international law or just hearsay? It’s frustrating and unfair when you honestly have nothing to declare and are subjected to needless long lines and searches. If I’m pulled aside and searched while going through the ‘green’ channel, then so be it, but if the government is breaking the law by not giving passengers an option, it should be investigated.

  31. when you get into customs they are usual nice to you, but come time to get your luggage, its like a war, the red cap people bombard you, and they think they have the right to cut you off in the line. I think red caps should wait outside the airport, I mean I know they trying to make a living but its too much stress dealing with them. You can also see Barbados getting harder and harder to live in, and I feel bad for school kids who will leave school but no job in sight, that’s why the crime rate is so high. The country is small and not enough jobs for thousands of people, therefore lawlessness, crime and frustration will breed people jealous of their neighbors, and have the idea that your things belong to them.

  32. Stuck in time, way back in time.

    True but the lack of seeing the big picture, all the red tape and public servants attitude prevents the Island from developing thus low to nil foreign investment and job growth.

  33. the red cap workers make friends with the customs people, so that way custom workers just tell them mildly about the wrongs they are doing, but again I could understand red caps trying to make a living, because many of them are single parents, and food prices and utility bills are sky high, hope the new government help out the poor people. You can only pray that Barbados life itself out of poverty for many people. America is bad but at least the neighbors leave you to hell alone because they dont know who own a gun or not, so people don’t really be on your case that much. In Barbados if you stay in a poor area, some neighbors get involve with juvenile behavior. The lower secondary schools, the kids are on the street all hours of the day, its like what time they have to attend class, but congrats to the new government, hope they find an answer, I know they are trying.

  34. Nostradamus

    See Nation Thursday Feb 14, 2013

    Corey Worrel’s article about a recent experience with a customs officer “Awright Den! Officer not NISE”

    Thu, March 14, 2013 – 12:00 AM

    Last Sunday evening, I had a horrible experience at the airport after I arrived back home from a very long flight and transit from Israel.

    Before I share the horrible experience, let me say that the greeting and service provided by the customs officer who took my customs declaration form was commendable and warm. I can’t remember her name, all I remember is that she wore braces. I ask that you do not judge all customs officers by the experience below.

    I exited customs and waited outside for a friend to pick me up. While waiting I realized I had left my carry-on suitcase in the baggage claim area. I explained my situation to one of the security personnel outside and he said to me that after I packed my luggage into the car, he would allow me to go back through to retrieve the bag.

    After packing the car I went to the security officer. He asked me if I had my passport and we were on our way. He instructed me to go through this door, go to customs and explain my situation. I entered an area, which had about four customs officers and proceeded to explain my situation. I said that I just arrived on a British Airways flight and after clearing customs realized I forgot my carry-on so I spoke to a security officer who told me to come here.

    A female customs officer with an aggressive, unprofessional, sour and bitter attitude in a cold and unwelcoming voice and tone barked at me, ‘nuh security can sen you in hey, guh outside, guh back outside’. I raised my hands, palms facing out in a surrender position and said, “excuse me mam, there is no need to be so aggressive, there is no need to get on like this”. The customs officer proceeded to walk towards me telling me to leave and she will get an agent to come to me.

    When I fully exited, I could see the shock and disappointment on the face of the security officer who had initially directed me. The security officer told me to go to British Airways and explain the situation to them, as he doubts the customs officer would honour her word in getting an agent to come to me. Even though I believed him, I was feeling a bit optimistic and waited 5-10 minutes to see if an agent would indeed come.

    After waiting and seeing no BA agent I proceeded to the check-in area and explained my situation. In less than 3 minutes an agent from BA came to me and we walked back to the customs area. When we entered I looked at the same bitter customs officer and said, “Hi, I’m back”. She didn’t respond neither did she look at me but gently and warmly greeted the British Airways agent. The agent explained to the same customs officer my situation and the officer responded, “I know ’bout he”.

    I said, “there was no reason for you to behave the way you did before” and the customs officer transformed back into her bitter, sour and aggressive attitude and said to me, “if I tell you go out, you got to go out”. I said, but you didn’t have to speak to me the way you did. She continued, “fuh right now, keep you mout shut in hey, once you in hey I aint want to hear nutting from you.” I smiled and said, that is not a problem, but read next Thursday’s NATION newspaper.

    I want to encourage you who work in customer service-oriented jobs to understand that after you take off your uniforms, you are just an ordinary citizen. That customs officer who barked at me may turn up to the bank for a loan and see me; or ask for a nurse while admitted to hospital and see me; or call for a taxi and see me; or show up at form level meeting and see me; or call for a plumber and see me.

    All I am asking is that you treat every person you meet with respect, fairness and kindness, as you may need to depend on them in the near future.

  35. 32

    Why are people not sticking to the subject and have to say stuff like it’s because she’s British or what she would or would not have done in Gatwick Airport or in the US. You do not know the person so why make up stuff about her. In the end it was right that the lighter was not allowed on board the plane. Unfortunetly it’s a very hard lesson.

  36. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    @ those who attack the SSS

    Insensitive my ass. I traveled from Barbados with a bottle of rum in my hand. Not a problem. I get to Heathrow airport waiting on my cousin to collect his rum for some delicious black cake my aunt anticipated baking, before my intransit flight home to Germany. He got their late. No one was in the line so I was not worried about missing my flight as I had already checked my bag and only had the hand luggage and the rum. Man the darn security saw me with the rum package, and I was not even in the line, and told me that they had to confiscate it. I said I was not going in the departure lounge yet but he said its a prohibited item. I told him my cousin was coming to collect and I am waiting before I go in to give it to him. The man summons another security officer who approach me in apprehending mode and said they had to confiscate. I was not in the f…king line and the security took my 70 dollar rum and threw in the bin marked flammables. I went and report the incident and you know what they told me: Sorry Sir but the securty was doing their job and following protocol. So all of you so called sympathetic pricks could talk all you like, the darn woman did her job just like security at Heathrow presumably did theres.

  37. anticolonial


    Yes ,you and other countries should do what British people say,the world was a much better place when you all did …..
    Now look at the mess the everthing is in ,the roads,buildings ,law and order etc etc .
    Things are going wrong in Britain too …. but thats the fault of foreign colonists and EU etc without a doubt

  38. Mr. Troll

    The ideal society is metaphysical concept constructed purely within confines of the human mind. And there is so such thing as perfection within the periphery of human society, man’s faults and failings gets into the way of that realization. Do you remember the perennial dictum which states, that Rome wasn’t built in a day? Well, Barbados hasn’t gotten there yet, in terms of her development. We’re still a working progress sir.

  39. lawson

    Everyone has a customs story ,usually the memorable ones are always bad, however these people are just doing there job and you are probably not the first to jerk them around that day. Lets not forget why all this close scrutiny evolved, because of a bunch of flakes trying to bring planes down, yes taking the lighter may be a bit much, but save your hate for the people that caused this problem.

  40. Yes, security services are quite strict however, sometimes they make us annoyed by checking and rechecking. Moreover, once they doubt you then you are queued to the waiting for being proven innocent. This is all for our security but I doubt that why this is not for the riches and people with power. Anyway these kind of incidents are really sad to hear.
    Airport parking Gatwick

  41. Richard Cleary

    My wife and I returned last night from a wonderful 10 days at Sandpiper hotel. The staff were excellent, and the locals extremely friendly. Yet the same thing happened to me at the airport security. A sentimental and expensive Dunhill lighter was also confiscated by G4S security. The female manager simply took the lighter from the tray where it was clearly visible (no attempt to hide it) and refused to even take it to the representative of the travel company who remained outside. I have travelled all over Europe, through international and domestic airports and have never known a lighter to be a banned item. I am not aware of any signs BEFORE security warning of such a banned item. Last night was legalized theft. I was threatened with arrest, threatened with being ejected from the airport, and threatened with delaying tactics that would mean I missed my flight unless I accepted the loss of the lighter. My insurance company are now facing a claim for “theft” of my lighter and they will be given the names of those responsible. If I made a mistake, then so be it. Why she could not have offered to hand it to the representative for postage to the UK I don’t know – or maybe I do – its a valuable item after all. Absolute bitter taste to end a fabulous break – cant see us returning, sadly.