Some waited for as much as 12 hours as a flights to the sister isle Tobago seemed near impossible. Many of those waiting said they had been waiting for hours with little to no explanation as to why there was no flight for them to get on. However, many of those were standby passengers. There was a long line at the standby counter.
Passengers waiting at Piarco International Airport yesterday sat on the floor, some stood with frustrated looks upon their faces as they waited on a flight.
At about 3pm, one Tobagonian woman, who wished not to be identified told Newsday, “I have been here since eight this morning and when I reached by the counter, counter number one, it was about minutes to nine and they closed off and they did not give any information... and a lot of attitude.” The customer indicated that there were a number of time changes for information and she was then informed that there were technical difficulties with the planes.
Ricardo Thom, from Tobago, said he had been at the airport since noon, was not told much and that people were there all day. He said the airline was not taking any standbys and only confirmed flights were going. Thom, however, was on standby. “They said there was a problem in Tobago with a plane.” “Some have tickets and some don’t,” Thom said.
Terrence Cumberbatch, who flies regularly between Trinidad and Tobago said the country does not have an air bridge. Cumberbatch, also a standby customer, said he had been there only since 2 pm.
“They do what they want, how they want, when they want. We are not the owners. We are the servants. And that is Independence for you,” he said.
Cumberbatch, a frequent flyer, said this was something constantly experienced.
The airline’s Head Corporate Communications, Dionne Ligoure, confirmed there was a plane with technical difficultly but only two of the airline’s scheduled flights were affected. “The standby passengers are persons who do not hold bookings for a particular day and time of travel. Caribbean Airlines operates a scheduled flight. The priority would be to transport the confirmed passengers.”
She said if any confirmed passengers are displaced, the airline ensures those passengers are re-accommodated. Standby passengers, she said, were ad hoc to the operations. She said it required the airline putting on additional services to accommodate them or disrupting international or others services to ensure that they are accommodated. “But in all of this the air bridge is given the highest priority at Caribbean Airlines,” Ligoure said.