When my wife expressed her dismay that LIAT would not deliver our son until the next day, she was told “at least he got to see another country”.
He arrived the following day at noon having not even had a glass of water for the day!
We eventually got the suitcase on Wednesday around 63 hours after it was due.
Submitted by Sam Tucker
One would have thought that after the recent bad publicity that LIAT received regarding “losing a child” that they would have gone all out in training their staff to never let this kind of thing happen again. But apparently LIAT enjoy the negative publicity, so here is some more for you.
My 12 year old stepson was scheduled to fly on LIAT from Guyana on Sunday 28th July to Tortola, leaving at 3.10pm from Ogle airport. The flight finally took off at 4.41 the routing was via Barbados, Antigua, St.Kitts and St.Maarten before supposedly reaching to Tortola at 9.50pm. At about 5.45pm I was tracking the flight on http://www.flightaware.com (the LIAT website was saying that the flight had taken off 3 hours later than what the current time was – apparently and clearly they are on a different timezone to the rest of the Caribbean) I realized that the flight was now so delayed that it couldn’t possibly make it to Tortola before immigration and customs call it quits for the night.
I called LIAT at Beef Island, got halfway through my sentence when the very rude lady on the phone said “wait”, I waited for 7 minutes before hanging up, of course when I re-dialed the lines were engaged. I tried several more times to call but each time the lines were tied up.
So I tried to call Antigua using the phone on the LIAT website, of course it was silly of me to expect an answer there.
I continued to monitor on flight aware, but thought there must be some error as the 512 leaving Antigua took off about 20 mins prior to the inbound 512 arriving. Knowing that even that one had left late from Antigua we proceeded to the airport for the scheduled arrival of my stepson. I suggested to my wife that before we wait for the flight to arrive and everyone get through customs and immigration that she she should enquire with an agent if her son was actually on the flight as I really couldn’t see anyway how he could be. Of course, it would be silly to think that LIAT would actually have anyone manning their desks at a time when an inbound flight is due in. She waited for nearly 20 minutes before anyone came out to assist the few customers that were there waiting. She was given a piece of paper and told her son was in Antigua, the piece of paper contained the name of a hotel and a number to call. When my wife expressed her dismay she was told “at least he got to see another country”. When we called that number we were advised that they had no idea whom we were talking about.
We went back to the LIAT desk and again had to wait another 20 mins before a lady came out, she very rudely told me she couldn’t deal with me at that time as a flight had just landed, I waited a few more minutes for the young man to appear. I expressed my frustrations to Alex Logan who was on duty, he was the most helpful person there that evening but clearly frustrated that he had to deal with so many complaints. He called the hotel back and was advised that they were still checking in LIAT refugees so we should call back in another 30 mins. I asked for the names of the other staff that were working that shift at Beef Island but was told that he couldn’t give out their names. It was at least one of the females on duty that had put me on indefinite hold and another that told me to wait at the desk.
We called the hotel again and was eventually able to talk with our son/stepson as well as the LIAT agent that was assigned to sleep in the hotel room next to him. She advised he was currently eating some food and she would call in the morning when he is on board the flight. Of course that never happened! He arrived the following day at noon having not even had a glass of water for the day!
We eventually got the suitcase on Wednesday at 12.30 (around 63 hours after it was due to reach) after numerous calls to Beef Island and numerous times of being put on hold, on one occasion my wife asked the man on the phone what his name was and his response was “I cant understand what you are saying, the phone line is really bad” even though he had heard her fine for the previous few minutes.
I fully understand that things go wrong and incidents happen but LIAT could avoid a lot of the negative publicity and frustrated customers by providing customer service to all of us it is not hard. Here is what should have happened in my opinion.
Guyana: Given that he was travelling all the way to Tortola and the flight from Guyana was so late in taking off LIAT should have denied boarding in Guyana, knowing that a 12 year old was going to get stuck somewhere by himself. Yes it would have been frustrating to be told he cant get on the plane but it would have been the responsible thing to do.
Barbados: At this point it would have been very clear that the child was going to be left somewhere – the parents or grandmother should have been informed.
Antigua: As soon as they realized they were going to put him in a hotel the mother or grandmother should have been called and informed.
Antigua should have someone to answer the phone, or perhaps the website information is incorrect like it is for LIAT in Tortola.
Let us know that he was on the flight out of Antigua and would have a few hours in St.Maarten
He should have been given a sandwich and drink at some point of his morning journey
St.Kitts: He was only there for a few minutes in transit so the best experience of this debacle goes to his 15 minute stay in St.Kitts
St.Maarten: Advise Beef Island that the delayed child was on the way so the awaiting parents would know
Beef Island: Answer the phone.
Don’t leave people on indefinite hold and therefore tying up the lines for anyone else to call in
Be friendly and courteous
Have somebody manning the desk when flights are due in rather than hiding in the backroom avoiding customers
They would have known that a young child was travelling up (we paid for the extra service), they should have informed us rather than us having to seek them and find out what was happening.
Call and let us know he was on the way.
Call and let us know that the bag was being searched for.
It all boils down to simple customer service that really doesn’t cost much in terms of time and effort. Instead the staff (and management) having this attitude of not giving a care about the customers that pay their salaries. I look forward to receiving an official response from the head of LIAT on this with a clear plan of how they will be improving their customer service – I guess that could be seen a challenge to them! But I really also look forward to the day when there is more competition within the Caribbean and we are not forced to fly with LIAT or stay home!