A complaint on social media by a Barbadian woman that she was discriminated against and “kicked off” a LIAT flight when she refused to give up her seat on a journey from Grenada has gone viral.
The woman posted a video on Facebook describing her ordeal, which reportedly took place yesterday morning at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) as she was getting ready to travel home. Up to this evening it had received over 60 comments, more than 149,000 views and 2,300 shares.
The woman, who referred to herself as Ms Browne, is seen leaning against a column and stating that she did not want to “bash” LIAT over its delays because she was a “strong supporter” of the airline.
However, she said when she arrived MBIA for a 6:55 a.m. flight to Barbados she was asked by a LIAT agent to give up her seat as “a favour”, and she would be placed on the 12:40 p.m. flight in order to accommodate passengers who had connections in Martinique and those with appointments at the United States embassy here.
The woman said she was offered a voucher for breakfast and lunch.
“You cannot discriminate against me because I was probably the only Bajan on the flight going to Barbados and you deemed that my reasoning for being on that flight was not as important as everybody else. And you had the audacity to tell me I can have breakfast and lunch, $25 and $35 vouchers, even if that is what it is. Are you kidding me?” said the woman.
She said the agent was seemingly unhappy that she refused the offer and left with “her face ben up”, but that a different agent returned later
and advised that she had been moved to the 12:40 p.m. flight because “LIAT operations has said you should be the person who get put off the flight because everybody else has a connection to make.
“I said, ‘I don’t understand because my ticket was bought months ago, I paid the same amount of money as everybody, and how do you decide that what I have to go to Barbados to do is less important than what everybody else is going to do? Like, who makes you the authority to decide that my reasoning for being in Barbados is less important than somebody who has to make a connection somewhere else?’ She said, ‘okay, we will give you a voucher for breakfast and lunch’.
“So you kick me off the flight because I am a Bajan going to Barbados and I am supposed to be happy with breakfast and lunch and the next flight you are putting me on is at least six hours away from now, and I am supposed to be happy with that?
“I say, ‘well, sweetheart, I getting on that 6:55 [a.m.] flight from here to Barbados and as for right now, if I have to block the whole airport I am getting on the flight,” she added.
Ms Brown explained that she joined the queue to board the aircraft and as she waited the agent handed her a new boarding pass but she protested.
“I said, ‘I already have my boarding pass and I am going on the plane’. She goes outside and calls security.”
The LIAT passenger said after a security officer advised that the situation had already been explained to her she requested to speak with a senior official from the operations department but was told “LIAT operations is not open”.
“So I told her she could keep all of her vouchers because I am calling everybody. I will go to LIAT in Barbados; in the next two weeks I will go to LIAT in Antigua because this is not on,” she said.
The woman said in her video that she was waiting to speak with the manager and that she had read “every fine print detail there is on the LIAT website on terms and conditions”.
In a statement from the airline this afternoon, while not making specific reference to the woman or her video, LIAT apologized for any inconvenience that may have been experienced due to disruption to its Grenada service yesterday as a result of the unavailability of aircraft.
“The disruption affected some of our customers, who were accommodated on a later flight that day. The management of LIAT is aware of the inconvenience that this may have caused to some passengers and LIAT sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience,” said the statement.
“LIAT wishes to assure its customers that when it is necessary to adjust its schedule on account of any disruption, that there is no discrimination in the way in which it treats its customers.
“LIAT would like to once again apologize to all those who were affected by this situation,” it said. (MM)