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Strike irritates grounded passengers

Published:Thursday | April 29, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Laura Redpath, Senior Staff Reporter

The gloves came off at the Air Jamaica counters inside the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday, as passengers expressed their irritation at the lack of customer service and available information.

One Air Jamaica representative walked by a group of approximately 20 passengers, leaving scowls, mumbling and hard stares in her wake.

Hours after Air Jamaica employees announced their protest action, airline operations remained paused, leaving passengers angry. Travellers faced challenges in getting information from airport officials who were present but uncommunicative.

"We checked in and they didn't tell us they weren't flying out," said Eric Meyerhoff, who was on his way to Orlando, Florida.

Meyerhoff, his jaw clenched, was waiting for his checked luggage so he could get on an American Airlines flight to which he had been moved.

However, passengers were experiencing difficulty in getting back their luggage.

"Sir," a female passenger called out to an airport staff member, "I've got one of your supervisors on the phone."


The staff member said he did not work for Air Jamaica.

"Well, who do you work for?" she asked, her voice raised.

A fellow travel companion took the phone from her.

"(Reporters) are here and you look really stupid," he said with the phone at his ear, and referred to the airport staff as "goofballs".

"I just want my luggage. Can you just get someone down here?"

Karlene Thetford-Swaby was another passenger trying to get on an American Airlines flight. She said she did not receive any notice from Air Jamaica regarding flight cancellations.

Meanwhile, another passenger asked to see an Air Jamaica representative. The response he received from a member of the airport staff was "No one is here."

Other persons commented on the customer service, saying airline representatives "walk like snails".

"This is not a strike. (Airline personnel) just not working anymore," a woman said.

"We're paying passengers and we should not be in this dilemma," a woman said. "We're trying to be polite and they take advantage of that."