No take off

Barbadian families stuck in US due to Hurricane Irma

As Barbadian Antonio Layne prepared to fly his family back home on September 9 following a two-and-a-half week holiday in New York, little did he realize the frustration they would have to endure due to the passage of Hurricane Irma.

After all, they were flying on JetBlue and neither Barbados nor New York had been affected by the storm.

However, when the dangerous Irma swept through the northern Caribbean and the US state of Florida, leaving behind a trail of destruction, it also knocked several airports offline.

As a result, JetBlue said it was forced to cancel some 900 flights between Monday of this week and tomorrow, as airports come online and the low cost carrier moves crews and aircraft back to Florida.

The end result was a dizzying exercise in travel gymnastics, which took Layne and his family 190 miles north east of New York to Boston, and back again.

“We checked in from New York to Boston and then to Barbados. We got on the plane, they took us to Boston and when we got there they said our flight was cancelled. And then they said the only thing available was next week Friday. I couldn’t believe it because my children had to get back to school. But they said nothing was available,” Layne explained.

With little to no chance of getting home from Boston, they decided to make their way back to New York where they would stay with relatives.

From there, Layne said, he encountered much frustration as he tried for days to get a flight out so his children could get to school.

It took quite some trying, but Layne finally succeeded, although they had to fly out on different flights.

“It took some time but my niece, she got out Monday night, my son and my mother got out this [Wednesday] morning and my wife and daughter are going tomorrow [Thursday]. I actually ended up taking a flight to North Carolina for a work trip,” Layne, who works in finance, told Barbados TODAY from North Carolina.

Most maddening for Layne about the delays was the fact that his children would not be home on time for the start of the new school year, particularly his son, who was beginning secondary school this year.

“My son is now starting Queen’s College, so he now going school Thursday for the first time. I called the school and let them know what’s going on and they were really accommodating. They just said to write a letter when I get back. My daughter goes to Harrison College, and she will start on Friday,” he said.

The experience was one no one should be made to endure, Layne said, especially when travelling with children.

“I spent a whole day at the airport in Boston, they didn’t give us food, nothing. Obviously it was weather related so JetBlue isn’t going to put you up or give you food, anything like that. They knew the flights were cancelled so why put us through all that, letting us go to Boston then back to JFK? To me that part was poor.

“Then to have to call the airline all the time, sometimes you had to hold on for like an hour just to hear nothing is available. I was persistent though. As soon as I hung up I called back,” he said.

While Layne did not have to travel through Florida, where Irma left behind a trail of debris, flooding and power outages, broadcaster Vic Fernandes was in the state when the hurricane struck.

He had been visiting the central city of Orlando with his wife and daughter, and they were due back here last Friday.

Instead, they will have to wait until Sunday at the earliest, to fly home.

“My best bet is that I’m now going to be getting home on the 17th of September. It’s been challenging. Along the way you have to constantly rebook flights,” he told Barbados TODAY.

When it became clear that the state would be hit, they thought of trying to get a flight home from Miami.

However, with virtually everyone else trying to get out at the last minute, and with the authorities ordering a mandatory lockdown, a flight to Barbados was out of the question.

Therefore, they accepted their fate, and prepared accordingly for the killer storm.

“We ensured we had food and water. It took a while to get because everywhere you went people had taken all the water and so on, so we had to go from place to place looking for some. It was quite an experience riding out a category five hurricane [it was a strong category four when it reached Florida]. We hardly slept that night because of the howling,” he explained.

Fernandes said though, based on what he went through, there were many lessons that Barbadians could learn from Florida.

“I’ve observed the level of preparedness here in Florida by the authorities. I’ve seen a level of preparedness I never thought I would have been exposed to. The level of organization, the kind of detail they look in to. We could learn a lot from these folks because one day our turn will come and when it does being prepared is probably the single most important thing you could do during a hurricane. The Floridians definitely take hurricanes very seriously,” he said.

13 Responses to No take off

  1. Meakai September 15, 2017 at 1:07 am

    This world would be a much better place if everyone had the temperament of Vic Fernandes.

  2. Greengiant September 15, 2017 at 2:03 am

    So it doesn’t only happen to our tourists here. It happens when we are tourists to the developed countries as well.

  3. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner September 15, 2017 at 6:39 am

    Agree with him about preparedness but politicians and other’s running Barbados only prepared for elections that’s about it.

  4. fedup September 15, 2017 at 6:46 am

    Our day will come? Be careful what you wish for yuh hearrrrr?

  5. SHARON September 15, 2017 at 9:14 am

    he should b glad he alive
    look how many ppl dead places destroyed, children cant go school for god knows how long n he complaining bout flight delay, a couple days your son missing school wont kill him
    the ppl from jet blue know what they were doing although newyork or barbados was not affected the plane got to fly over places that were the wind in the air would have affected the plane next time plan your trip to come back two week b4 school start dont wait for labour day sales or any sales i was in the us for a month n i came out 2 week b4 school because i knew my son was going to school. school was on holiday for 9 weeks next time plan your trip better dont look to leave on the 9th n school starting on the 12th it was u who was cutting it close cause as u c u never now what would happen ahd u wont to make the airline look bad it was mother nater to blame not jet blue

    • O. Walrond September 15, 2017 at 9:25 am

      I think he was more concerned about letting us know his children go to Queen’s College and Harrison College – quite irrelevant to the issue.

  6. Donild Trimp September 15, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Don’t understand why this is news given the circumstances with the weather at the time?

    Look on the good side of things.

    You ended up taking a flight to North Carolina for a work trip.

  7. kk September 15, 2017 at 9:55 am

    OMG!! some of you people need putting in a barrel and taking a trip in the careenage!!! YES idiots it WILL happen to us soon so brace wunna greedy heartless selves cause nuff a wunna cant even go without a busta for a day so imagine going without water (which is better than busta) for a week. What y’all should be doing instead of picking out every word people put in a story is observing how the atmosphere is and realizing something going to happen bout hey soon to wake wunna up!!!!! IDIOTS!!!!! Sick a wunna!!!

  8. Michele September 15, 2017 at 10:20 am

    We were glad to be alive and never blamed the airline. The staff at jet blue was awesome. The school does not matter, who say the reporter did not ask which schools the children’s attended? We did our best under the circumstance, the schools were all contacted and notes / homework were sent by parents of children in the same class. Everyone entitled to their own opionion and nothing is wrong with feeling the disappointment of a child missing school but we got over that. God was and is in control and everything happens for a reason.

  9. Wayne P Hoyte
    Wayne P Hoyte September 15, 2017 at 10:21 am

    did you read the story?

  10. Michele September 15, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Another thing, vacation is scheduled according to factors such your work load on the job, dates available without clashes with other colleagues for us it was not Labor Day sales, again that is your assumption/opinion. Stop judging and speculating. Thank God that you were able to take vacation earlier and that you got back safe.

  11. Consuelo N Richards
    Consuelo N Richards September 15, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Being prepared is key

  12. JayPilot September 15, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I guess these commenting on here was not there. I was on same said flights on same said day. Fortunate for me I always check-in online and realize the flight to Boston was late and I would have missed my connection to Barbados which was not cancelled at the time so I called and was rebooked on a direct one from JFK, and checked in on that one as well. Only to find out at bag drop that, that flight was cancelled and to go to assistant desk. And the rest on my experince was similar to this guy. Now the only flights on Jetblue departure and arrival board that was cancelled that morning was to Barbados and Trinidad where no weather system was approaching, and to make it more amusing was that they were making final boarding calls to montego bay and punta cana, at the time Irma was battering cuba and the turks. Air canad which flies the same route after passing JFK went to Barbados and back, Caribbean Airlines operated to Trinidad and Guyana, AA went to St. Kitts from JFK. Still none of the agents could’nt tell why only Jeblue flights to Barbados and Port of Spain were cancelled. Irma was miles and miles away from these destinations/route and this reason was why people were upset at JFK.


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