AFRICANGLOBE – Several Caribbean Airlines passengers were Thursday night left stranded at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston after the flight, destined to Fort Lauderdale, was denied landing by United States Border Control, while mid air.
Clive Forbes, the Caribbean Airlines General Manager for Jamaican operations, explained that this was because of a Customs and Border Control curfew.
“Fort Lauderdale airport has a cut-off time. It was very close to the cut-off time so therefore, the aircraft had to return. Customs at the airport cease operation at a certain time … it’s standard,” he said.
“We tried to make time in the air,” he added, but apparently that was not enough.
Flight BW033, with over 150 passengers, departed Kingston at 8:45 last night, two hours behind schedule, said an irate passenger, Nicola Jackson.
“We sat aboard the aircraft for one hour and 20 minutes without an explanation,” she said.
According to her, 40 minutes before landing in Fort Lauderdale, the pilot announced that US Border Control would not accept the aircraft, so he had to turn back.
On their return to Norman Manley, it was another long wait for the processing of the passengers on the unexpected return flight.
“The airline was not even prepared to accommodate us in a hotel. We were being told to return to our families,” she said.
Jackson said, eventually, some of them were accommodated at the Jamaica Pegasus, Altamont Court and the Spanish Court hotels.
According to Jackson, they were also advised that they would be flown out of the country on an American Airlines plane this morning.
However, the American Airlines flight could only accommodate 10 passengers.
Forbes said Caribbean Airlines is trying to put the remaining passengers on other flights.
“Some went this morning on [the] first flight out of Jamaica to Fort Lauderdale; some will be reallocated this afternoon,” he said.
Meanwhile, some passengers on BW033 say they have missed their connections into other cities and may even lose their jobs.
“It is obvious there are problems at Caribbean Airlines which needs sorting out, we received no meals, and no vouchers, after being stranded for hours,” one passenger said.