A bad experience with Fly Jamaica

Dear Editor,

It is with great regret I write this letter to complain about my first experience with Fly Jamaica.

It all started on October 28th when I attempted to check-in online as is standard with most airlines in this modern day for my flight the following day October 29th. After realizing that the airline does not provide such an easy and convenient service, I decided to check the departure date and noticed two departure times for the same flight number. I called all the available numbers, all while roaming, more than 10 times each and was unable to get anyone. Sent emails to the support number and finally called the cargo section in Guyana and demanded to speak with an agent. That was when I was informed that the flight time had changed from 12:15 pm to now 4:15 pm one week ago. I am not sure why I could not get a call or an email from the details I provided to inform a paying customer of the changes.

I arrived at JFK airport at 1:30 pm only to see a long line because persons were there since 9 am due to the change in departure time and the agents at the counter were only booking Jamaica-bound passengers. After enquiring I was told that there was some computer system issue so Guyana-bound passengers could not check-in. I was satisfied with the explanation, but I heard nothing further until I saw passengers running with their luggage around 3pm and was told that the counter agents were moving from counter F to counter C. Arriving at counter C there was further confusion, as no lines were set up and the people who were at the front of the line at counter F were now at the back of the line at counter C. Instead of getting persons organized and processed, two counter agents were busy back and forth bringing plants to their counter tops, (what madness?). I did not rush because I had my pregnant wife with me. During the hours of waiting, she started to feel unwell in the confusion. I asked if she could get checked-in but was told quite rudely that no special treatment would be given to her, she could sit and wait her turn.

Finally, a gentleman decided to give up his spot for us and allow me to check-in earlier than I should have. At the counter, the agent was very slow but she claimed she had to input all the information manually, but what I saw was the lack of typing skills as she only used two fingers on the keyboard. Finally, we were able to get our boarding pass except for one major problem. I had seat 27, and she had seat 16. I asked the agent why the disparity, knowing we checked in together. She said it was beyond her control as the system was forcing the system numbers and they were unable to change it. I explained that  my wife is pregnant and I would prefer we sit together especially since she was a bit exhausted with the whole process. She said she would try her best to sort seating out. Let us just say she never sorted it out. We found out other families were separated as well, kids from parents, etc.

I offered a suggestion to let us have open seating as it would allow persons to find places where they can have seats together. This suggestion was ignored by the staff. While boarding, I was told our two carry-on bags which was all we had, had to be tagged since there was no more space in the overhead compartments. Either the compartments were too small or several persons were allowed to take more than one carry-on because it was at least 30 persons that had to tag their carry-on bags as checked baggage. The promise of a carry-on and a personal bag was no longer applicable for us. I never got it back until I reach Guyana.

Arriving in Jamaica, we were told for the first time that the flight would leave at 2 am to get to Guyana in time for 6 am when the airport reopens. We were given a US$10 voucher to buy a snack for all the delays. Only Burger King and a Deli were opened, so our choice for good food for a pregnant woman was very limited. We boarded in time for 2 am and were set to leave for Georgetown, but one final issue had to put the cherry on top of the miserable experience. The rain came down, and the pilot announced that bag handlers could not pack the bags into the cargo section of the aircraft because of the rain. When we left New York on Sunday it was raining and had been all day heavily and I managed to witness that bags were being loaded onto the airplanes in the rain, so that explanation in Jamaica made me feel stupid at that point. We departed after 3am and finally arrived in Guyana at 7am.

The experience is one that I will never forget for all the wrong reasons, as the saying goes “the first impression is the lasting impression.”

It’s sad that I tried to support Fly Jamaica as I heard the owners have Guyanese connections. I had a few bad flights before but never this terrible. I will never use Fly Jamaica again.

Yours faithfully,

Sherwyn Osborne

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