Travails of Caribbean travel

Wandering woes

But travelling between the staging islands – St Lucia, Guyana and Barbados – has been one nightmarish experience for television commentators, journalists and cricket fans alike. Late arrival of luggage and cancellations of tickets have been regular features.

Indeed, some flights have even been advanced without prior intimation! Bangalore doctor Parashuram Muniyappa, who has been based in St Lucia for the last 16 years and is familiar with the functioning of Caribbean airline LIAT, said jokingly, “The alphabets of the airline stand for Leaves Island at Any Time!” And that’s just one expansion. Another unkind one goes thus: “Luggage In Another Terminal!”

Given the heavy inflow of spectators, 16 extra flights had been pressed into service, but the problems persisted. Former India captain and commentator Ravi Shastri was forced to a buy fresh set of clothes as his bag did not reach Barbados from St Lucia on May 10, while former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar wasn’t allowed to carry hand baggage, though a couple of other passengers ahead of him got the nod.

Journalists covering the event have had to bear the brunt of LIAT’s haphazard operation as even those with confirmed tickets have been off-loaded and forced to buy new tickets to fly out the following day. Worse, a few journalists who took a British Airways flight to Trinidad from St Lucia to reach Barbados in time for Sunday’s final landed back in St Lucia!
They were to get a connecting LIAT flight from Trinidad to Barbados but much to their horror, they ended up returning to St Lucia. What should have been no more than six hours of travel, including flying and transit time, took them 11 hours!

Worse, after the semifinal between Australia and Pakistan on Friday, another former India captain, Sunil Gavaskar, was forced to fly to Barbados by taking the jump seat in the cockpit!

The International Cricket Council’s efforts to bring quality cricket and thereby attempt to restore the glory days of West Indian cricket are praisewothy.

They have helped these islands build infrastructure and given them staging rights to world events, but the game’s governing body also needs to consider if these countries have the logistic capability to host such events.

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