The Troubled Regional carrier, LIAT (1974) Ltd recently announced changes to its baggage policy. According to the companyâ€™s press release the new changes are aimed at ensuring a consistent delivery of service to all passengers, especially t during this busy time of the year.
As a consequence, with effect from December 1st 2008, the free baggage allowance for all LIAT services will be set at one piece at a maximum of 50 lbs (23 kgs.). Further, the maximum overall size per piece will be 62 inches (157 cms).
In addition, passengers will be allowed one piece of cabin baggage inclusive of a laptop at a maximum weight of 15 lbs.(7 kgs.) and maximum overall dimensions of thirty-six inches (36ins) or ninety-one centimetres (91 cms.).
Passengers are also asked to note that extra pieces of baggage (that is, pieces in excess of the above allowance) will be subject to excess baggage charges and will only be accepted on a space available (standby) basis.
LIAT Chief Executive Officer, Mark Darby said given that these changes could have implications for perishable items packed in airline luggage, LIAT also urged customers not to pack perishable items in their checked luggage. He said customers should note that perishable items would not be accepted in standby baggage.
———-My Personal Note———-
Personally, I think company needs a major restructuring â€“ from the LIAT executives down to the ground handling crew, after what happened with passengers luggage during the Independence Reunion Celebrations. I’m afraid a lot of people be looking for alternative ways to get Dominica this holiday Season.
Whatâ€™s your opinion on LIATâ€™s new baggage policy, and what do you think of the Regional carrier on-a-whole? Share your likes and dislikes in the comments.
I don’t think Liat needs to be restructured simply because of the issues with passengers getting to Dominica for the Reunion. Liat needs to be restructured simply to keep up with the times and more so to be more proactive about customer service and be on track to being really successful instead of counting on bail outs every few years.
Lets face it. Any one who have travelled on Liat a few times or live in Dominica know what to expect from Liat. Therefore the debacle passengers experienced the last few months should not have been unexepected by anyone. Not that it is acceptable. However I was not surprised the least bit. I did not expect Liat’s modus operandi to have changed drastically on its own due to the Reunion. Agreed, Liat’s local management should have been more influential on the net passenger experience, given the hords of passengers expected.
What I did expect however, is that the Governement of Dominica as a shareholder, should have held Liat’s feet to the fire, so to speak. Let them have a commitment in writing for service delivery, particularly regarding luggage. We all know that having sufficient flights alone would have been challenging. I am sure passengers would have been happier, if they knew for example that Liat had a commitment, backed by the government, to have luggage delivered say within 48 hours. I am sure it would be at an additional cost that someone has to pay for (lets face it: the planes Liat uses are not designed for the volumes of baggage returning Dominican passengers fly with; they are more suitable for short stay or business travelers with light baggage). Take a page from the Government of St. Lucia when they organize jazzfest: they actually subsidize the airlines which come in by offsetting some costs. As undesirable as it would be for the government to be paying to ensure that Dominicans were accommodated, that should have been expected. We know that Liat would have to charter extra airplanes just to get the large volumes of baggage in, and that adds to their cost! Failing that, both the government of Dominica and Liat should have cautioned passengers before hand. As a traveller from the US, I elected not to travel on Liat, knowing what to expect. I expected it would be the zoo that it was.
Besides the baggage issue, the treatment of passengers at the airport was atrocious! Its a shame that the “new” airport facilities are already inadequate, compounding the issue! Seeminging there was lack of foresight in the design in so many ways. Someone said that his kitchen table is longer than the baggage carousel! Indeed, the airport project has dragged on too long! Airport management has also to think of maintaining reasonable passenger accommodation despite the construction. I won’t talk of the scene upon leaving! It was worst than a fish market! About 80 passengers trying to get to the departure longe at the same time! Trust me, if you had a blast on your vacation, that scene deflated your bubble.
Its easy to criticize and compare the scene to the US or elsewhere, but I think to be honest, the airport is the first and last impression, and for it to be the depressing impression, is not good. After all, all the powers that be (including the policy makers, project managers, airport management and engineers) have travelled and know what the standards are like out there. Why do we have to settle for a 1960s looking, unimaginative inadequate design?
Things are what they are, and hopefully the service will improve and the final completion of the airport, with lighted facilities will be more desirable. But I think sometimes you got to get real and if better can’t be done, the least you can do is forewarn people. It was all well and good for the government to invite Dominicans back home, but the important thing was getting there (with your stuff)! I think most affected passengers would be happier with a mediocre program and good airline service than missing baggage and a great program of activities, for which they had to go and purchase extra clothing. For the some people like me who travelled a day and a half to get there, it was still worth it.
Which airline did your take? I am assuming American and you overnighted in Miami or San Juan, right?
I did take American, not just to avoid the Liat fiasco, but it has always been the most convenient. Of course, American being a bigger, more passenger-friendly and responsive airline, there are more opportunities for recourse if things go wrong. I was part of a party of 18, so changes to our initial booking (which many other people faced as American has reduced offerings to the caribbean) were minimal. Yes, we did overnight in San Juan. At least the Airline did also arrange for a special flight just for our baggage, which arrived just 25 minutes after we landed in Dominica.
By the way, I have flown extensively throughout the islands on all the airlines (including short lived upstarts), and it is no secret that most have a long way to go as far as customer service is concerned, not to mention operations management in dealing with issues. Some of the employees do try, but the system is not supportive.
I have flown Caribbean Star, Liat & Carib Aviation to Dominica from Barbados or Antigua. All the flights had surprises in one way or another. This year I am faced with picking one of two new airlines (Winair & Sisserou) or Liat. I wrote Winstar with a question and received no reply. 🙁 . The Sisserou website is not fully ready yet. 🙁 . I am not comfortable that Liat will not drop a flight departure to combine it with a later time on the same day if insignificant passengers are booked. This can co$t me big time . It is stressful but Dominica is worth it. I dream about her for the entire year wishing to return again. 😀