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2004-12-08 16:14:56

Chaos At NIA

With so many passengers collecting their bags from delayed flights, customs officers appeared overwhelmed as they tried to deal with the situation.

A significant increase in the amount of luggage passengers are bringing into Nassau via Bahamasair is creating chaos at the arrival section of Nassau International Airport.

This comes as many travelers express outrage at new fees for oversize, overweight and excess bags the national airline recently put in place in time for the holidays.

Mounds of bags were piled up in the arrival section on Monday as passengers who traveled on Bahamasair over the weekend scurried to find their luggage.

Around 11am, hundreds of persons were sorting through luggage that was scattered over the floor.

With so many passengers collecting their bags from delayed flights, customs officers appeared overwhelmed as they tried to deal with the situation.

Many disgruntled passengers, meanwhile, expressed their disapproval with the airline's service, saying that the increase in fees was unnecessary due to the fact that the bags are not being flown along with the passengers.

But Bahamasair's Managing Director Paul Major said the fees are necessary to offset costs for hiring freighters to fly in extra luggage.

“The problem is we are getting more and more bags and that's a problem in trying to get all the bags here in a reasonable period of time,' Mr. Major said. “So it is physically impossible for our aircraft or any commercial aircraft to bring the number of bags that our passengers are now bringing to accompany them on their flight.'

The airline now charges $85 for each piece of luggage over the two pieces allowed per passenger; $100 for each piece of luggage more than 70 pounds; $100 for oversized items that are over 63 inches; and $125 for an item that is both oversized and overweight.

Mr. Major explained that because several bags are being checked in per passenger, the airline had to contract cargo freighters to assist in getting the luggage to The Bahamas.

“We had three freighters yesterday (Sunday) and one this morning (Monday) to deal with just that problem,' he said. “Those freighters cost anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000 per rotation.'

He said some passengers are brining up to 15 pieces of luggage each.

“We had a freighter last night along with the jet and still lots of bags remained behind because it was impossible to bring all those luggage,' he said. “Imagine if one person brings seven to eight pieces, well then it's not possible to fit all those bags in a belly of an airplane for over 100 persons.'

He assured that all bags from Sunday were due in on Monday morning.

“I was on the phone from 11pm last night and I made sure that every bag from any destination in Florida was flown into Nassau. All the bags were loaded on a freighter this morning and they were scheduled to be in Nassau by 10am,' he said.

Nevertheless, several passengers from Bahamasair's flight 232 that was scheduled to depart Miami at 9:55 Sunday night, but did not depart until shortly after 11pm, said their bags still had not arrived up to 1pm Monday.

“This is really bad,' Chistoff Darville said. “I'm try to support the airline, but this is the last [time]. I made three trips here today and every time I came only one bag reached and I have to go and come back to check on the rest.'

Meanwhile, another passenger in a party of five was in tears while waiting at the airport for her luggage to arrive.

Tracy Bethel told The Bahama Journal that she and her family were confirmed passengers on flight 232, but after waiting on the line in Miami for four hours, they were told that the flight was oversold and that they will not be able to return to Nassau on Sunday night.

“I asked them what was going to be done to compensate for the inconvenience and the agent told us they would see if they could send another airplane for us, if not they would have put us up for the night and give us a free ticket for the inconvenience,' she explained.

But she claimed that they ended up sleeping on the floor at the airport because they had to stay with their unchecked luggage. She said it would have been too much of a hassle anyway to transport so many bags back to a hotel.

Another passenger, who was on one of the afternoon flights on Sunday, called the situation involving the luggage a disgrace.

“This is just wrong,' Shenisa Collie said.“It's ridiculous for Bahamasair to implement these ridiculous fees and still they are not bringing the bags in on time. I came from Miami on Sunday around 1pm and it's now Monday morning and I am still trying to obtain my bags. This is totally out of order. They need to seriously put some mechanisms in place to improve this airline.'

Bianca Symonette, The Bahama Journal

 
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