If you’ve been following my recent travels, you probably know that transferring flights between VA and BWIA at Bridgetown takes more than the allotted 2-2.5 hrs because no baggage agreement exists between the carriers and you must clear immigration, customs and check-in. On my return I miraculously made it, but only because my luggage emerged early (as part of the main luggage—not on a separate transit belt this time), and somebody put in a word for me before the customs officer arrested me for being pushy and obstinate (“give the poor girl a chance”—only in the Caribbean!).
I was shaking all over when I made it to the international check-in counter because it closes one hour before the flight is due to leave. Thankfully there was still a long queue.
Well, we have put in a complaint (several, actually) because I don’t want others to go through this kind of stress and I don’t believe the ticket was advertised correctly. Flight transfers ought to follow certain guidelines, or so I thought.
The initial reply by Lastminute.com followed from the misunderstanding that the luggage would be checked straight through (as I had been informed by VA check-in staff at Gatwick):
The minimum connecting time for your return flight is one hour fifty five minutes and you have almost 2 hours in hand, to take the connecting flight. As per the airline you will have sufficient time to go through the immigration formality and take the connecting flight. There will a through check-in of your luggage, you do not have to manually carry your luggage to the connecting flight.
Lastminute is standing by this claim, only now they admit that immigration and customs must be cleared and the required (‘standard’) connection time has been decreased to one hour fifteen minutes.
Having studied the points raised in your e-mail, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies for any inconvenience that may have been suffered, after investigation into your case please note the standard connection time for Barbados [BGI] – Barbados [BGI] ], for an international flight is 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The connection time allocated for the outbound flight was 2 hours and 30 minutes, and 2 hours for the return section, the standard connection time is allocated including the time taken to collect and check-in baggage.
(Note to LM: quit the grovelling—it changes nothing!)
Who is allocating such times? People who try to break the speed-immigration record? They are not meant for people like me, for sure, nor the lady who was sitting in the seat next to me and moves somewhat more slowly at eighty years of age (I don’t think she’d ever make it to Trinidad, so it’s just as well that she was staying in Barbados). No, the people who allocate these times must imagine that a plethora of specially dedicated staff awaits us at the airport to whisk us through customs and immigration, hand us over to the VIP check-in and probably carry our bags on the way there.
They sure don’t travel in our shoes.
It’s worth noting that this complaint reference has gone through ABTA, so I wonder what their response will be.