Passengers who were scheduled to travel on flight No.BB4583, and I guess those who were coming in on the corresponding flight, on Sunday 17th June, 2018, Fathers’ Day, were in total disbelief when it was announced that their flights to and from San Juan had been cancelled. The aircraft arrived in Dominica on schedule but was unable to land because of inclement weather. This was the official reason given by Seaborne agents on the ground.
The Seaborne flight was scheduled to arrive at 2:15 p.m. but at 1:48 p.m. there was a heavy shower which lasted for about twenty minutes and apparently during that time the aircraft was approaching to land, visibility was bad and it was impossible to approach the runway from the mountains. So that was it, the aircraft returned to San Juan.
Passengers were informed and advised that they will have a long wait for the return of the aircraft, which in my mind, I knew was impossible, because by the time the aircraft returns to San Juan, goes through their bureaucracy, refill fuel it would be close to 5:00 p.m. and Seaborne would not leave San Juan for Dominica at that time.
At 3:21, after sitting in the departure lounge for more than an hour, the announcement came; “Seaborne flight No. BB4583 to San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been cancelled because of bad weather, passengers with boarding passes with connecting flights, should make rebooking arrangements with their airlines because Seaborne is not responsible. A Magic Jack telephone is available to use, if you wish.”
The flight was cancelled because of one shower of rain and passengers had to fight their own battle to make arrangements for the rescheduling of their travel. During that time, in fact less than half an hour after the Seaborne aircraft aborted landing in Dominica, a LIAT aircraft landed from Barbados and departed for Antigua in bright sunshine and another LIAT flight was scheduled to arrive.
With a Jet Blue connection at 8:39 p.m. there was sufficient time to inform Jet Blue that the flight from Dominica was cancelled to secure another reservation. Seaborne will not take the responsibility to make that arrangement, passengers had to wait their turn to use the Magic Jack telephone which one lady had in her possession for more than half an hour, trying to resolve her situation.
Finally, Seaborne gave no. 1 801 449 2525 for Jet Blue which could be contacted. After twenty minutes getting through to Jet Blue, you are told that it is Seaborne’ responsibility to reschedule the reservations and Jet Blue cannot assist from their end. The Seaborne attendant is given the telephone to speak to Jet Blue and then she says we, Seaborne, will make the reservations, come back to the airport for 10:00 a.m. to catch a flight that leaves at 1:30 p.m. without any confirmation of the connecting flights, one is expected to be in the airport three and a half hours before the fight departs.
Meanwhile passengers are on their own, they had to find transportation and accommodation because Seaborne is not responsible. A flight cancelled because of one shower of rain and bright sunshine thereafter yet passengers are left with the burden of all the responsibilities.
I have no difficulties when flights are cancelled, neither do I question Seaborne’s decision to cancel the flight because, for me, safety is paramount. I’m always prepared to accept any delay of airline service whether it is due to mechanical, weather, administrative or any other reasons. I am never in a hurry to fly and in fact, I have developed a dislike for flying because the stress of leaving and coming to Dominica has taken its toll on me, over the years, that I prefer to be grounded. There is no pleasure in the Dominica flying experience, whether it is leaving or coming. No wonder so few Dominicans come back home for vacation.
Considering the aforementioned, there are numerous concerns to be addressed:
Who determines when a flight should be aborted, because it is strange that one airline aborts a flight due to bad weather and within thirty minutes another airline lands and departs without any difficulty.
Was the Seaborne pilot new to the island and got scared, because the weather condition was quite normal to Dominica standards, that’s why LIAT landed and departed with no excitement.
Do the airlines operate under the same terms and conditions?
Who determines responsibility to passengers when a flight is cancelled?
We are in the Hurricane Season and expect much rain over the next six months, will Seaborne cancel flights every time it rains?
It appears that Dominican travellers are subjected to the worst service the airlines have to offer.
If Dominican nationals are so frustrated with travelling from and to the island, one can well imagine the feelings of visitors.
Do the authorities know the pain and suffering travellers to and from Dominica endure?
With the absence of an international airport and the Nature Island becoming increasingly less attractive to visitors, the airline service in Dominica will apparently get worse. Isn’t it time to seriously consider the establishment of Dominica’s National Airline, because it appears that the airlines are fed up with us, we hardly ever have sufficient passengers to fill an aircraft, except during the World Creole Festival and Carnival, all our sister Caribbean Islands, to the north and to the south are better off than us with International airports.
The construction of an international airport in Dominica will take no less than ten years, can we really wait that long before something else is done to improve destination Dominica?
If the Government of Dominica really has money in the piggy bank for the airport, let’s invest in some planes and create Dominica Airways or else Dominican travellers will continue to be subjected by this crap that Seaborne gave its passengers on Father’s Day, 2018.
Meanwhile, let’s see what today brings, will Seaborne again abort today’s flight because it is raining and will the stranded passengers be assisted to get to their destination. In the midst of all this, no one protested and accepted their dilemma with calm. I refused to protest and be the mouth piece for passengers who appear quite comfortable in accepting what should have been an unacceptable service.
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