More Liat Blues

More LIAT blues
Published on: 6/20/07.

TWO WEEKS AGO, People And Things focused on our regional carrier
LIAT and expressed concern about the level of service we are now
forced to accept since it has no competition.
At that time, I "skipped" the issues of cost and efficiency; however
I now feel compelled to add my "two cents’ worth" on that aspect of
the issue.
Like Beverly Walrond, who also wrote on this matter, I am sickened
by the manner in which LIAT is now able to charge me whatsoever it
chooses. I reached my personal limit last week when I was forced to
pay US$535.50 to fly to St Kitts via Antigua for one day. This
included a US$390 fare plus S$145.50 in taxes. I was especially
concerned about this since I paid US$581.10 to fly to New York two
weeks ago.
the mathematical logic is simple. One trip takes an hour while the
other takes four, and there is no way that any airplane, regardless
of its size, can burn US$390 worth of fuel in the first hour and
then US$35 in the remaining three.
That logic aside, one needs to question why a person paying US$195
an hour (the LIAT hourly rate) can only travel with 50 kilos worth
of luggage, while the person paying US$53 can travel with twice that
This scenario is aggravated by the fact that the LIAT traveller will
invariably be made to stand in line like a disobedient schoolchild
at the boarding gate, while waiting to be "herded" into an
intolerably hot cabin to wait another 20 minutes before air
conditioning is made available.
Limited refreshment. The injustices, however, do not stop there,
since the LIAT traveller will be given only limited liquid
refreshment along this journey.
It is a well kept secret that the LIAT traveller is entitled to a
single free "boxed juice" and, before noon, coffee or tea, but I
have seen many an unsuspecting LIAT traveller make the mistake of
asking for a Coke only to be asked for "two dollars" thereafter.
Ironically, myself and others quarrelled when American Airlines
withheld food from flights to Miami and Puerto Rico. However, their
assortment of free beverages now seems like a proverbial buffet in
comparison to the raw deal we are offered by LIAT.
In the airline industry, a more expensive ticket usually means that
the traveller benefits in some way. However, in the instance of
LIAT, this is not the case since you had better not attempt to
change your flight, or worse yet, miss it.
In these circumstances, you will be "hit" with "change penalties" or
in some instances asked to purchase a new ticket, which LIAT
presumes is a justifiable "sentence" for the abominable crime of
attempting to remain in Antigua for four hours instead of 45 minutes
to conclude one’s business.
The foregoing is, of course, only the beginning and the peculiarity
of this problem was recently highlighted when LIAT rudely reminded
one of my colleagues that, by purchasing a LIAT ticket, he waived
his right to make claims against LIAT for any "electronic" item that
was stolen from his bags.
One can only smile, since an agreement to waive one’s rights
normally assumes that one has a choice in the matter and in this
instance, the choice is either fly LIAT or stay at home. For many of
us, staying at home means not working.
To my mind, this scenario highlights the short-sightedness of those
who have responsibility for LIAT who do not realise that
transportation is the cement that holds a community together.
Let us not forget that we are here trying to build a regional
community. How can we build a community when it is more cost
effective to travel to Miami to shop, than to experience the only
remaining functioning railway in the Caribbean in St Kitts?
Unlike the LIAT chairman and our silent leaders, I do not think that
this present situation is acceptable. Moreover, I am convinced that
the problem has twin origins, namely the oppressive taxation imposed
by government and secondly, LIAT’s own inefficiency.
Perhaps if someone else were forced to pay for my inefficiency, then
I would see no reason to change either.
In this environment, the decision of the St Lucia government ought
to be commended and not condemned.Somewhere there is someone who
dreams of your smile, and finds in your presence that life is worth
while, so when you are lonely, remember it’s true, somebody
somewhere, is thinking of you.

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