|Miami Carnival crowd frustrated at Piarco |
By ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Friday, October 5 2012
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STRANDED: Soca artiste Kes Dieffenthaller....
A weekend of fun in the sun for those seeking to enjoy this weekend’s Miami Carnival may have to be forgotten by over 1,000 passengers, as all American Airlines flights have been temporarily grounded.
The first flight that was said to be grounded was Flight AA1668 which was due to depart at 3.22 pm. Passengers for this flight had already checked in, and preparing to board the aircraft, when an announcement came on the PA system for all passengers to return to Customs to collect their baggage, because the flight was no longer on schedule.
Passengers did as they were requested, and after collecting their luggage, they were told that the aircraft, and all similar Boeing 757 planes belonging to American Airlines, had been grounded by the parent company, due to a defect which was discovered with the seats.
Yesterday’s turn of events frustrated many people, as on this flight alone, it was reported that 240 persons were expected to depart from Trinidad for Miami.
Passengers such as Ancil Kirton noted, “how did this happen? Who is going to refund me my down payment for my hotel? This one thing has affected me so much, and the people are not being told that they would get another flight, but rather that flights for the next two days are cancelled, and that if we are lucky, we may get one on Saturday.”
Among the persons who were scheduled to depart yesterday were Kees Dieffenthaller and the members of his band ‘Kes the Band’.
Carolyn Pasea, the Manager for Kess the Band, told Newsday yesterday that the band had been eager to board the flight, when they were told the disappointing news.
“They told us the flights were cancelled literally minutes before we were scheduled to board the plane. Well as you know it is Miami Carnival this weekend, and the band has commitments to two shows this weekend. Right now we are very concerned and very disappointed that we may not be able to make it. But we have agents who are trying to see what other flights are available, and how we can get our artistes up there, so we are holding our breath right now, that everything works out,” Pasea said.
She noted that so far, she and several other persons have been informed that all other flights to Miami other than the American Airlines flights have been booked to capacity, and they were all instructed to go home. Frustrated passengers were told they would be contacted in the near future.
However, she said for the sake of their fans in Miami, they were trying all avenues to honour their commitments.
“I have to say this much, the staff at the counters have all been very, very pleasant. They were put in a tough situation, where they were blind and had no information really to share, but they handled it professionally. It is a situation where no one is to blame, and the airline is taking all steps necessary to ensure their passenger’s safety so it is understandable,” Pasea said. “Inconvenient, but understandable,” she then joked.
Other passengers such as Farouk Nandah appeared similarly understanding of the situation.
“It is no one’s fault. It is beyond the Airline’s immediate control, and certainly was not the result of any severe human error. It was something that was wrong with a mechanism in the plane, and as a result the FAA has grounded all 757 planes owned by the company for inspection. So we all understand what happened. It is quite unfortunate, and I am very disappointed because I for one, was looking forward to my weekend, but as I said, it is an understandable situation,” Nandah said.
He said he was very hopeful that the flight schedules would resume before Sunday so that he could make it across to the United States.
The Associated Press has reported that the seats on three separate airplanes have come loose over the course of four days (Saturday to Tuesday) prompting the airline to conduct inspections this week on eight of its Boeing 757’s with similar seating assemblies.