This week’s column was going to be dedicated to my the week I recently spent in Kentucky and North Carolina, but other subjects raised their heads, in a positive and negative way.
First my outbound flight!
While I have previously flown to Barbados from Charlotte, […]this was my first time in a northerly direction and what a pleasant surprise. While the aircraft used, an Airbus 319 is a small plane, it is comfortable and takes part of the huge risk out of filling larger equipment like B767’s, B777’s, A330’s and the older B757’s.
My flight touched down on time and rather than the typical queue to clear immigration and customs of up to two hours or more at Miami, I was first in line and processed within minutes by a very congenial immigration officer and an equally affable customs official. In less than an hour after the plane touched down I had checked into an airport hotel nearby!
If there is any lesson our tourism planners and policymakers should never forget it is that the components of getting from point A to point B plays an incredibly important factor in destination decision making process, especially if you are trying to attract repeat visitors.
And that takes me back to the negative aspect. Returning via Louisville and Miami, our flight AA1089 while departing late, arrived more or less on-time at Grantley Adams Airport, but then the chaos ensued. There were no landing/customs forms on the aircraft, so around 180 people were left to scramble around trying to find a form and pen before they could proceed any further. Bear in mind, just minutes later, most of the larger planes started arriving like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, WestJet, JetBlue etc., so imagine the mayhem this could trigger.
After speaking to a senior immigration officer, apparently this was the fourth consecutive day it had happened and the authorities were now discussing refusing to de-plane passengers on further flights unless the applicable forms were handed out pre or during the flights.
Frankly I am not absolutely certain whose responsibility it is to ensure the forms are on the plane, but surely it is not rocket science and should not the most important factor be the highest level of passenger or visitor travel experience?
On a more positive note, the office of Barbados Tourism located in the airport arrivals hall has been greatly enhanced and is far more visible. Kudos to all who have made it possible!
I have always been convinced that so much more could be achieved with this outstanding location. This may include silent mode monitor screens in the immigration queue or baggage retrieval area showing powerful images of our attractions, activities and multi restaurant choices possibly updated every 7 days showing upcoming events within the next week mirroring the highly successful ‘What’s on in Barbados’ website.
And while I realise most people have some sort of time devices on their cell phones, all sorts of other communication options and even watches, what is wrong with having a few sponsored clocks at the airport?