Getting unloaded from an Air Jamaica Aircraft – My experience, the drama, and the troubles
December 22, 2008
On Thursday December 18th 2008, I planned a trip to Jamaica. I was a bridesmaid for my high school friend’s wedding. Her wedding was also a high school reunion as she invited several friends from our high school. I received a guest pass from a friend who works at Air Jamaica and per the following report, it will show the little if any respect that Air Jamaica shows people that they consider ‘non-revenue’ passengers.
On my way to the airport I got a flat tire and had to replace it with the small spare tire that comes with the car. This incident had seemed to be a nightmare at the time but the events that followed the next couple of days made the flat tire incident feels like a pleasant dream.
I arrived at the Air Jamaica check in counter at JFK at approximately 8:30 am with the intention of travelling on the 10 am flight to Kingston Jamaica. I was told when I checked in that I should wait in the area until 9am and someone will let me know if I will be able to travel. As a holder of a guest ticket, you have to travel on standby. Paying customers on standby have preference over a holder of a guest ticket. Within the guest ticket they are ranks based on the status of the employee that provided you with the guest past.
At 9:03 am I was waiting anxiously for someone to let me know if I will be able to travel or not. An employee from Summit Security services happened to ask me what I am waiting for. When I explained him the situation he told me that no one will say anything to me. I went at the counter and asked and they told me that they don’t know as yet. I kept asking and asking until finally someone managed to say that I didn’t make the flight. If I didn’t keep asking no one would have said anything to me. Its like my existence did not matter because all I am is a person with a free ticket. This same scenario happened for the flight that was scheduled to leave at approximately 1:25pm and 2:30pm. By this, it was 6 hours spent at an airport and I had to leave with nowhere to go. I expressed my concerns with Air Jamaica agents and they were in no way sympathetic or cared about my situation. Several agents convinced me that a flight that was supposed to leave for Grenada and then to Jamaica, the next day, on December 19th, 2008, would have been my best bet. Let me make myself clear that I wasn’t upset that I was not put on any flights but I am upset because of how they treated me, a human being, just because I received a free guest ticket from an employee. I am the same person who have travelled with Air Jamaica several times and purchased my tickets.
Anyway, at the end of day one I thought I was very depressed, not knowing that the worst is still to come. I thought that since I was already in New York I should just come back the next day and attempt the Grenada-Jamaica flight. Luckily I had enough Hilton Honors points that I could stay at the hotel next to the airport. On my way out I ran into one of the managers for Air Jamaica and she told me that she recommended that I try for the Grenada-Jamaica flight the next morning, so once again I was feeling more assured that I may make it on that flight.
The next morning, December 19th 2008, I made it to the airport at approximately 4:09 am, since the Grenada flight was due to leave at 6:30 am. When I went to the airport it was announced that the flight was delayed until 1:00 pm that day. I also found out that a flight was leaving for Montego Bay at 7:30 am so I decided to try to make it on that flight. At approximately 6:45 am, I went to the check-in counter to ask about my status and she told me that she recommended I go to the gate. I dropped my luggage and made my way to through security and to the gate. I was told by the agent to wait a while. They announced a few minutes later that the standby passengers come to the counter. I went and got my seat number, it was seat 7B. I was extremely excited and happy considering the events that happened prior to this. I went on the plane and sat in my seat, very grateful that I made it on the plane. But, my excitement didn’t last very long. An announcement was made for me to come to the front of the plane and sure enough I was told to get my things and get off the plane. Three of us were told to come to the front of the plane, myself and another lady that had the same situation and was with me from the day before and a little boy. The boy was sent on the plane and the door was shut in front of my face. Apparently the little boy was the son of an Air Jamaica staff and his ticket had a higher rank than mine. I am still not sure what happened but I was never more humiliated in my entire life.
I walked back to the gate with the staff and they had us wait for about half an hour. An air Jamaica agent told us that the supervisor will get us checked in the next flight, the one that was leaving at 10 am to Kingston. I thought that was sure and I was definitely going to make it on the flight. I didn’t of course, if any standby passengers made it, it was the ‘revenue’ passengers as they call it, passengers who paid for their tickets. I had to walk back to the check in counter at the front desk. The next flight was the one leaving at 1:00 pm to Grenada, the one I actually went to the airport to take. I asked the agent at the check in counter, what my chances are of making the flight. They told me that they currently had 32 seats not checked in as of yet. The flight was delayed so most passengers had arrived and checked in from earlier that day. No one wanted to tell me if I would or would not get on. I spoke to the manager, Mr. Thomas I believe is name is. I explained my dilemma and told him that I have a ‘donut’ tire on my car and there was an impending storm and if I didn’t make it on any flights I would have to drive back to Connecticut on my donut tire. I told him to let me know if I had a slim chance so I would just leave now before the roads got any worse. He told me that since I was already at the airport, his educated guess would be that I should wait. This is the person that I believe have the power to put me on the flight if he chooses. I asked him if the boarding time was at 12 noon and he assured me that he will be back before then. Of course I never saw him again.
Once again I waited and waited and I was told that I didn’t get on to the flight. I was sort of surprised considering how many people told me that they were many seats on the plane. Apparently, I didn’t make it because they had to put the bags on the plane that they left from previous flights. So, even though Mr Thomas knows my situation and knows that I was there from the day before he didn’t even remember that I was still a human being who could have got killed driving to Connecticut in the snow storm, just because my ticket was ‘non-revenue’, every possible thing came before me. Mr Thomas never came back, he could even provide some customer service by letting me know I couldn’t make it. I had to keep asking the agents at the front and they told me.
I decided after that to just go home, but I wanted my luggage, luggage number 753747. After waiting about three and a half hours for someone to find my bag I was informed that my luggage is in Jamaica. It was on the plane that I got uploaded from, so even my suitcase had better priority that I did, because it made it to Jamaica. At this time I started to cry. Even after I was taken from the plane I was still a good sport, but I just couldn’t take it anymore, I cried because I needed by luggage. I asked what to do next I was told that I should call [protected] or [protected]. I asked if they will send it me in Connecticut where I lived and I was told ‘No’ in a manner that suggested ‘how dare I expect that’, it’s like they are saying you didn’t even purchase your ticket, you must be crazy to expect us to send your suitcase to you. I was told I would have to come back to the airport to pick it up, remember I live about 120 miles away. The next day I called and no one answered, it just kept on ringing. I called Air Jamaica reservations several times until I finally spoke to someone who cared enough to try to get the baggage department on the phone. I was told by the agent that my bags would get sent to the airport but they couldn’t give me a time frame and someone will call me to let me know. So, now I am waiting on my luggage that will arrive at some point in time. The lady I was with eventually had her ticket bought by her son, he couldn’t take the situation anymore and wanted her mother to go home (Jamaica), and you bet she made it on the flight that was due to leave at 8:10 am. So Air Jamaica, you have sent your message loud and clear.
Shame on you Air Jamaica!! I am a human being and a guest of your employee, an employee who may have had to work long long hours and has earned their tickets, an employee that helps to make Air Jamaica exist. If I worked for Air Jamaica I would be upset that they treated my guest so poorly, I may not have paid for my ticket but it was paid for in some other means. Someone had to work to get the tickets. It is time someone did something about the way airlines treat passengers travelling on a guest ticket. I have never felt so unappreciated and unimportant in my entire life. I didn’t feel like a human beings with rights and I hope the whole world knows that Air Jamaica is only interested in people’s money and nothing else. I need my suitcase and I need it ASAP. With the treatment I received, it was punishment enough. I missed a very important event that is gone forever. I was traumatized and kept waking up in my sleep since then. I didn’t expect to get on flights that were full, but I expect to receive some customer service, and I didn’t expect to be taken off a plane in front of more than a hundred passengers like I was some kind of criminal, and I didn’t expect to come home without my luggage.