The BWIA captain should have personally assessed the situation
Stabroek News
March 16, 2002

Related Links: Letters on evicted passenger
Letters Menu Archival Menu

Dear Editor,

I refer to the letters about the assault on BWIA passenger Colin Gaul, in particular Yuolanda Barker's letter (l3.3.2002). I was seated immediately behind Colin Gaul in seat l3C and witnessed everything. I concur with all that Ms Barker's articulate and factual letter expressed.

On behalf of passengers Ms Lynette M Hardy (seat l4C) Mr Deochan Awadhnarine (seat l3A) and myself, I wish to express our wholehearted disgust at the way in which Colin Gaul (seat l2c) was treated on 9th March by BWIA staff, their security staff and the Barbados police.

Mr Deochan Awadhnarine (seat l3A) and another passenger (seat l3B) boarded the flight in Barbados and were directed by BWIA ground staff to board at the front of the aircraft. I had boarded in Miami. Colin Gaul, with hand luggage and a small child and who it now transpires had been travelling from Sweden, were sent to the back of the plane to reach seat l2C at the front of the plane. No wonder this man was complaining and felt it right to voice his objections. Most of the passengers on the flight were agreed about his frustration with BWIA.

There are three important observations I would like to make to your readers:

l. The BWIA ground staff member who directed Colin Gaul to his seat (via the rear entrance of the plane) misjudged the situation entirely. (a) He failed to give preference to a passenger travelling with a child and (b) He took umbrage at Colin Gaul's protestations and decided to inform the security staff that a passenger was objecting too much. In my opinion, the BWIA ground staff member must have exaggerated the situation to the security personnel and was unprofessional/immature in dealing with the situation.

2. The captain of the aircraft should have personally assessed the situation. Despite passengers and Colin Gaul requesting the pilot to come and deal with the situation, he relied on hearsay. I think I can say on behalf of most passengers on that flight that they lost their confidence in the pilot being able to manage a crisis. The captain was also unprofessional in ordering all the passengers off the plane. Doesn't he know that travelling by air is stressful enough, especially from America, without playing around with people in such cramped and hot conditions? The pilot announcing to passengers before take-off that the delay was "self explanatory" clearly showed his lack of understanding of the incident and his shortage of public relations skills. It speaks for itself that when our flight reached Guyana, he was escorted off the plane with security personnel.

3. Extracting an indemnity from Colin Gaul under duress clearly shows that BWIA had something to hide and were obviously guilty of wrong doing. This was yet another unprofessional attempt by BWIA to handle this situation.

Question: Since when is it permissible for police to beat up someone for complaining about his unfair treatment by an airline?

Yours faithfully,

Heather Martins