CAL can do better

Dear Editor,

On BW 527 from New York to Guyana on August 16 there were no blankets on board the flight which departed after an hour‘s delay. Further, the check-in line was very long and it took an hour. On board the flight, the food was horrible. The coffee creamer was a hard lump of some solidified white substance. And on a flight five hours and more, they fed the people an unappetising 5-inch turkey sandwich. This is the same food they serve on the New York-Kingston leg as well. The cheese on the sandwich was inedible. I am not asking CAL for free food because I would rather eat healthy, and if that means buying food on board an airline, I have no problem. CAL should sell food. It has become a poor airline that is losing millions of dollars.

CAL can’t claim that everything on board is “free.”  Free what? Poor food? Free blankets, when none exist? Free two-piece check-in luggage at 66 pounds each? No, their employees are not aware of this and they demand that you pay for an extra suitcase and extra weight because the suitcases are over 50 pounds.  What a fiasco when CAL advertised these extra perks to convince the public to fly on their non-stop flights three times a week from JFK to Guyana. I had to show them the advertisement and yet they continue to argue.

To my great surprise, there were no Caribbean nationals among the cabin crew. They were all Americans.

These are some of the many reasons why I always look forward to fly SLM-Surinam Airways; they have the best inflight services in the Caribbean above Delta, American, Continental and all the rest of the Caribbean and North American carriers. I had an extra 3 kilos flying from Suriname to Guyana and SLM did not fuss about it, but with a smile the agent said, “I will help you this time, but be aware you have overweight.” SLM is the best in our region.  And before we flew to Guyana refreshments were served at the Johan Pengel Airport, Suriname.

The B767-300 that CAL uses on the non-stop JFK- Guyana leg has very little storage for carry-on bags. The overhead storage is extremely small and should have been considered in the selection of an aircraft to serve Guyanese. This led to more delays since many passengers could not find luggage space in the cabin, and their hand pieces had to be removed from the cabin and sent to the check-in luggage.

Also, the toilets on board flight 527 were not as clean as they should have been. The hand soap in the pump was broken and there were no air fresheners in the toilets.

They have only one little office in Guyana and that’s in Georgetown. Unfortunately, no one answers the phone. Strange, one can call all day and no one picks up the phone. Thus, one must visit their office in person where only two agents and two windows are open to service the public. Hence, the wait is long. However, I must say that the Guyanese working there are doing their best with such a small staff to serve the public.

CAL can do much better, but they take Guyanese passengers for granted. I can assure  CAL that the skies of Suriname and Guyana are quickly changing, and in the near future they will face stiffer competition. Thus, instead of expanding to London, CAL should focus on selling a good product to consumers.  SLM and EZjet are going to expand into Guyana by adding more destinations. However, I don’t know much about EZjet and will have to wait and see how that company evolves. And soon Fly Jamaica will offer flights from New York and Toronto to Guyana. Moreover, with the economic rise of Suriname, SLM will soar the skies of Northern Brazil, North America and the Caribbean. They are already bringing passengers from India and China to Guyana and Suriname. I saw some on board my SLM flight to Georgetown.

Yours faithfully,
Raymond Chickrie

Editor’s note
We are sending a copy of this letter to Caribbean Airlines Limited for any comment they might wish to make.

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