It cost me a little over US$600 for a return trip to my home in Antigua earlier this week flying LIAT. I can go to Miami by American Airlines, lime a little, shop a little more, go to Red Lobster and get all the seafood I can eat, earn some Advantage miles and the trip will cost US$456.60 or about US$150 less than the LIAT fare. The Miami trip takes less time. Last week Wednesday I got up at 3 a.m., checked in at the Antigua airport at 3.45 a.m. and left at about 5.45 a.m. for St Lucia.
From St Lucia we flew to Barbados.
When we arrived in Barbados I had to get off the plane and about fifteen minutes later back on the same plane to Grenada.
We arrived in Trinidad just after 10 a.m. having experienced six hours of flying, most of it shake and bake.
The LIAT attitude gets to me as much as the exorbitant cost. There is never more than one flight attendant but because they've heard the big airlines with several flight attendants on one trip say, "Cabin crew prepare for arrival."
LIAT says it too and the poor attendant has to go to her seat while the rest of us look around for the "crew".
I have always accused LIAT of being a type of URP (Unemployment Relief Programme) for the OECS so maybe the same way the URP has "ghost gangs" full of people calling themselves "Jennifer Lopez" or "J-Lo", LIAT must have some ghosts called "J-High" since they're frequent fliers.
The other thing that I find interesting is that LIAT enjoins us "to observe the no smoking sign". I am not sure what observing the no smoking sign is supposed to do unless it possibly keeps you so busy and bored simultaneously that you don't feel like smoking. The fact is that what they want you to observe is not the sign but the regulation. In other words, what you should observe is the stricture not to smoke instead of the notice that says so.
LIAT, like many other airlines, tells you to fasten your seat belt while seated. Have you ever tried to fasten the seat belt when you're not seated? It is extremely difficult to do – the belt keeps slipping off. I know many planes carry "extenders" and wonder whether that was the original use of the extender – while you're standing in the aisle chatting with your friends you attach the extender and you can lime the entire six hours from Antigua to Trinidad.
The other issue is to hear the pilots calling themselves "Captain". A loud crackle comes over the faulty loudspeaker and a voice, generally almost totally drowned out by the chitty-chitty bang-bang of the plane, declaims, "This is your Captain speaking." Now I know that even boatmen in Erin with a broken dinghy call themselves "Cap'n" and Daryl Sammy likes to be called "Skip" or "Skipper", but this whole thing is ridiculous. If a pilot of a little rinky-dinky, two-seater airplane is a "Captain" how should you call the person in charge of an Airbus 380? Surely if a LIAT pilot is a Captain the Airbus pilot has to be at least an Admiral. Personally, if I were flying a Dash something or the other and know that some of my colleagues flying big Boeing jets were also Captains, I would never boast on the intercom. I would say, "This is your chauffeur speaking…" I would not even have one of those briefcases that real pilots carry – I might just buy a schoolbag or haversack and sling it on my shoulder. Even the epaulettes – I would take those off and wear a T-shirt or even a buss-up merino.
The only real fun I've had on LIAT recently, in addition to observing the no smoking sign, is one morning in St Lucia observing the former LIAT CEO, Brian Challenger waiting and waiting for the same flight that I was booked on. I once knew Challenger but he avoided me, perhaps fearful that I would say how much fun I was having at seeing him suffer like the rest of us. I didn't. What I did when a few people started to "Steups" was to suggest, "Look the LIAT CEO over there. Why not go and tell him how much you're enjoying this?"