(Trinidad Guardian) Trinidadian passengers who were on board Caribbean Airlines’ flight BW601 have expressed disappointment at the airline’s lack of communication about why the flight had to return to the Pearson International Airport (YYZ) on Friday morning, one hour after take-off from Canada destined for the Piarco International Airport.
The passengers finally returned home around 9.55 pm on Saturday but expressed frustration and anger after the rescheduled flight was again delayed to 4.15 pm that day after they were told they had to check in at noon for a 3 pm departure.
“No announcement made to us. No explanation given to us…for so many hours we were kept in the dark and still kept in the dark at the time the flight finally left Toronto,” one irate passenger said.
Another passenger said those who were on board the full flight and destined for Georgetown, Guyana, were also angry because they missed their connecting flights because of the delay Saturday.
The T&T Guardian was told that the aircraft suddenly began experiencing technical difficulties on its first journey to Piarco on Friday, hence its forced return to Canada. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft landed back at Pearson at 12.01 am on Saturday after being forced to turn around in midair when the pilots reportedly experienced an issue in the cockpit.
Another passenger, who is originally from Trinidad but resides in Toronto, explained the horror that transpired when the pilot announced that the plane had to be turned around “because of a problem in the cockpit.”
“At first everyone thought it was a joke but then we soon realised after that it wasn’t. People, including myself, began to panic and some of us started praying loudly and hoping that we get back to YYZ alive,” the passenger said.
“It was a horrible landing, very rough and fast. I was very nervous and scared. It is appalling that no information was given to us. No announcement made. The plane didn’t get to the gate at 3.05 pm (yesterday) and up to that time no announcement made as to why…everyone was agitated…are we, not people too?”
After more than one hour seated in the warm aircraft after its return to Pearson, the passengers were instructed by the crew to disembark at 1.17 am and wait at the gate. After waiting close to another hour at Gate B37, the passengers were told the airline would offer limousine/taxi service to those wishing to return to their respective homes and hotel stay at the Holiday Inn Toronto until 12 noon Saturday.
This arrangement too was fraught with mishaps.
One T&T couple explained: “First off, we did not get back our respective pieces of luggage so we were left without fresh clothes and toiletries. Also, some passengers were shuttled to the wrong hotel and had to be shuttled again to the correct one…all this added to the frustration and still no explanation whatsoever given for the inconvenience.”
The flight initially departed from Pearson International at 10.53 pm on Friday from Terminal 3 and upon its emergency return landed at 12.01 am. In an immediate response then, CAL’s head of corporate communications Dionne Ligoure said after take-off from Toronto there was a minor technical issue with BW 601.
“However, in keeping with standard operating procedure, the aircraft had to return to the gate for the issue to be checked by an aircraft engineer,” Ligoure said.
“BW 601 returned to YYZ and landed safely at midnight. There was nothing reported to be unusual with the landing. The aircraft was positioned at the gate at 12.07 am.”
Ligoure said passengers were served meals while the engineers worked on the matter.
However, Ligoure did not respond to subsequent enquiring about what was the issue encountered with the aircraft that caused the forced return to Canada and why the engineers needed several hours to rectify it.