Scores of Barbadians who were stranded at the Miami International Airport (MIA) after their January 3 afternoon flight was cancelled have started to make their way home.
American Airlines cancelled the 5:45 p.m. flight due to bad weather conditions and the 79 people affected were instructed to head to the rebooking centre, which is the normal procedure for cancelled flights.
However, the airline said they were under no obligation to assist the commuters in the case of weather cancellations, much to their frustration.
Kimberly Persaud, one of the Barbadians stuck in Miami, slammed the poor customer service which left her with no alternatives but to sleep for two nights at the airport with her two children.
“I had to stand in a line for two and a half hours minimum only to end up in another rebooking line and nobody could tell me what had happened and what alternatives were available. Imagine I am in front of the customer service assistant to discuss my concerns and they’re telling me to send an email to their customer relations account for them to give me a solution. A response for them, according to their Service Level Agreement, is a response within six to seven business days,” Green said.
In her opinion their service was indicative of what they think of their Barbadians customers.
“They don’t take the Barbadian leg of the trip seriously and we need to do better. On my flight out of Barbados, the toilets weren’t even clean. The floor was dirty and there were tissues in the sink. You don’t get the feeling they value you……Never again will I travel with them. The fact that they managed this experience so poorly means you can’t plan for this. This is telling me I would need an additional $3 000 put aside in case of a cancellation, plus travel and accommodation which hotels here are at least US $200 a night.”
Another passenger, Rosalee Green, recounted her experience.
“We stood in the line from minutes to four o’clock until after nine p.m. We were placed in standby for the morning flight but we were not allowed onto that because it was overbooked again. They said the first flight was cancelled because of bad weather but when I got to the rebooking centre, the lady said she was told to tell us the reason was bad weather. It appears it was actually because they overbooked the flight.”
Green continued: “There was no announcement, nobody came to say anything. Whatever you asked they gave the bare minimum answer. We stayed at a hotel and had to pay for it ourselves. Our luggage was inside the airport so we had to buy personal things to use overnight. We’re back at the airport and nobody offered to reimburse us for the inconvenience. We don’t have any money and there is nobody to give us financial aid because my whole household is here.”
When The Nation contacted American Airlines, a customer service representative said she was not sure when the stranded Barbadians would be able to get a flight back. The next available flights not fully booked were scheduled to depart on January 9 and 12, respectively
Persaud and her family are booked to leave this week on JetBlue after flying to New York. The other passengers were scheduled to arrive home Friday after boarding a 7 p.m. flight from Miami. (JC)