Tue | Sep 17, 2019

Devon Dick | Delta and Dexter discrimination?

Published:Thursday | August 22, 2019 | 12:15 AM

This month, I was travelling on a first-class ticket on Delta Airlines from Atlanta in the United States to Kingston, Jamaica, and had a major disappointment. I visited the lounge in Atlanta, under the mistaken view that a first-class ticket would entitle me to access its lounge. I gave the ticket to Robert, who scanned it and then diplomatically asked me whether I would be using American Express card in the lounge. Apparently, he was taking me down easy. So, I told him that I anticipated that with the first-class ticket I would be afforded the use of the lounge. He further explained that the flight to Jamaica was not considered an international flight, hence no lounge.

The explanation makes no sense because Delta Airlines, to my certain knowledge, travels over international waters from Atlanta, Georgia, to Kingston, Jamaica. This rule seems arbitrary and discriminatory against Jamaica.

I was further informed by a female employee that it is a rule of FAA, meaning Federal Aviation Administration. That makes no sense because how can FAA tell an airline which of its passengers can have access to its lounge? Furthermore, if this were true, then no other airline arriving from a USA city and destined for Jamaica could offer its lounge to passengers travelling on a first-class ticket.

It seems insensitive and reflected poor customer service that I was not even offered a glass of water from the lounge since I was already there. Furthermore, since it was a legitimate expectation, then some outreach would have been desirable. I was not even interested in the lounge, but I had lot of time on hand and someone encouraged me to go to the lounge, not knowing the rule either.

I expected better from Delta because in July, I changed my travel arrangements with another airline and flew Delta, as I thought the legroom was adequate in the ‘Plus’ section.

In spite of the lounge experience, the customer service in-flight was very good. The service by Jay in the first-class section did not disappoint as she was attentive and accommodating. The meal was excellent. It was also a comfortable flight. The only other disappointment was when one reached Kingston. Although the bags of persons who travel first class were tagged priority that was not the case when it arrived on the carousel.

This possible discrimination against persons travelling to or from Jamaica is not confined to foreigners, but Jamaicans suffer at the hands of Caribbean nationals. In July, while going to the Nassau, Bahamas, for the Baptist World Alliance Gathering, I was bewildered at the manner in which Jamaicans and returning Bahamian nationals were handled, compared to how visitors from the USA, UK and Canada were treated at Customs.

But then again, don’t we discriminate against our own? Take, for example, Noel Dexter, a household name, who on his death, at 80 years old, has received an Order of Distinction, officer class (OD), only. He does not have a CD although he has written many songs and hymns which are well known in Jamaica, the Caribbean and published in eight hymnals worldwide. Dexter gave yeoman service to internationally acclaimed University Singers. Whenever a Caribbean song is required, chances are it is one of his compositions, Psalm 150 or the Right Hand of God or Freedom Song, that would be utilised. A prophet without adequate honour in his own country in his lifetime. The issue should have been whether Dexter, this honourable man, should get an Order of Jamaica or an Order of Merit.

Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of ‘The Cross and the Machete’, and ‘Rebellion to Riot’. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.