New LIAT aircraft does not accommodate regulation size carry-on baggage

Dear Editor,

On Saturday, 14th instant, I travelled from Tortola to Guyana on the LIAT service.

The first leg, Tortola to Antigua, was on one of the Dash 8 aircraft. One piece of luggage was checked in, and another was weighed, and I was allowed to take it on board as hand luggage.

In Antigua, the usual change-of-plane procedures were followed, however, as I was about to board the aircraft for the Barbados leg, the officer at the departure gate advised me, that my carry-on haversack would have to be tagged, because she “had a full flight.”

Now, this is where my curiosity, apprehension and frustration began. Am I not a passenger on this “full flight”? Isn’t my luggage entitled to a place?

It turned out that it was one of the new aircraft that was deployed on the Barbados leg of the journey. My carry-on piece was purchased some years ago, and was designed according to flight luggage standards, was checked for size in the store in one of the nickel frames seen at various ticketing counters around the Caribbean. So, my regulation size haversack, with which I have travelled across the Caribbean on LIAT, and which ordinarily fitted comfortably under the seat in front of me as well as in the overhead compartment was tagged and placed in the hold.

On boarding the aircraft, I observed, that the seat support closer to the window is nearer the centre of the seat, thereby making the under-seat space smaller. It is, therefore difficult for two passengers to stow their regulation size luggage there.

Therein lies the error in judgement.

On arrival in Barbados, I saw the haversack being removed from the hold. I approached the member of the ground staff team, told him that it was mine, showed him the counterfoil that I had been given in Antigua, and asked permission to take the haversack with me. He refused to listen, insisting that it was tagged to Guyana and that I couldn’t have it.

The haversack did not arrive in Guyana that afternoon! Needless to say, I was disappointed,  frustrated and a bit nervous about the items in it.

From this experience it appears, that in order to travel around the Caribbean, passengers must now purchase smaller hand luggage, so that in the event that they have to travel on one of the newer aircraft they will be sure that they will have their carry-on luggage and personal items with them on arrival at their destination. This now reduces the number of items that they can carry on their person, as it were.

It’s like a lottery! This is not a comfortable situation in which to be placed!

LIAT’s cabin crew always ends the landing instructions with, ‘Thank you for choosing LIAT!” Interesting choice of verb!

I don’t know what can be done to avoid further frustration among passengers from this particular source, but I’m sure that I am not the only one to have been affected by this error in judgement.

Yours faithfully,
Derry Etkins

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