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LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

Crane Lake...
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536 posts
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LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

Five couple headed off to Dominica to SCUBA dive. We had started organizing this trip about 8 months ago. Getting accommodations and dive operator was no problem but getting airline reservations on the last leg to the island was impossible. We were departing from Minnesota so we were going to have to make some connections somewhere. At that time American Eagle was deciding if they were going to stop service and Liat was in the middle of bankruptcy. We had originally want to do a 10 day trip starting mid week but finally out of frustration had to settle for 7 days, Saturday to Saturday.

Let me says this first……. I am also going to post just on the island and diving. We real enjoyed the island, people , the accommodations and diving was very good. HOWEVER LIAT the airlines is killing the island. All you have to do is bring up Liat and the words of dislike flow from the Taxi drivers, to the business owers and mangers of tours business. Yes, it does not help that Dominica does not have an International size airport that can accommodate large jets but it should have an adequate operated small aircraft carrier.

I have done considerable travel diving/touring all over the world and have traveled almost as much on Puddle Jumpers as I have on jets. I am also a private pilot, IFR, Multi engine, turo, seaplane, rated with over 4000 hours, so I have some knowledge of the requirements and regulations needed to operate planes. Also I have owned and operated several business that required management of large numbers of employees and logistical problems.

I do not think that I have every run across a business that basically has a monopoly and yet is the most disorganized, understaffed, no customer relations and not a clue as to how to solve problems. Liat’s company attitude of not caring filters down thru all ranks of the company. All you have to do is Google Liat and the miles of complements pop up.

Let me give you just a taste. Arrived in Antigua for the last leg to Dominica. First told that the flight would be delay, then cancelled due to work stoppage. This the last flight o Dominica so every one starts to make arrangements to spend the night in Antigua. An announcements comes over the loud speaker that the flight will leave in 15 minutes. Every one gets on the plane and off we go to Dominica. We circle Dominica and are told that due to weathers we will fly to Barbados. At Barbados we were taken to a fully depreciated hotel which had a furniture store, a 20 by 30 plastic pool, an electric bumper car ride that you see at an amusement park, a bowling /bar/ restaurant were we served rice and one of the chickens that did not make it across the road.

The showers delivered as much water as a leaking facet and the winner of the cockroach contest was measured not in numbers but by the largest weight. I could have won a bass contest for biggest fish of the day.

Next morning off to Dominica, were we all arrived but not our luggage. As diver this meant all of our dive equipment. We had already missed one day of diving.

One set of bags arrived that afternoon, One the next day and 2 the 3rd day. One couple did not get their luggage until Friday afternoon, the day before they were to leave the island. No clothes or equipment for the entire trip!!!!

Saturday morning we were up a 4:00am to leave at 5:00am from the hotel headed for the airport for a 10:40 am departure. If you have been on the road to airport, I need not say more but if you have not it is a hour plus drive or more due to the fact that it has been all washed out by the hurricanes. We arrived at the airport to find the ticket area is packed to over flow with people and it is only 7:00AM. There are only 2 counter people . We finally get to the counter around 10:00 am and are informed that the flight is delayed. We clear security and enter the departure holding pen. 11 o’clock, 12, 1, 2, 3 we are still in the holding area, nothing from Liat about the flight. The two vending machines do not work. At 4 o’clock I leave the area and go outside. The ticketing area is still full with people from this morning, who are still standing in line. There I see one couple of our group who are traveling on a different itinerary, we thought they had caught their 11:00am flight! They were still in line! He told me that at noon the counter staff closed down the counter and went to lunch for an hour.

Finally at 6:00 pm we were told to get ready for boarding our flight. They lined all of the passenger up on the tarmac in the hot sun and slowly brought out all of our luggage and lined it up on the tarmac and each person had to identify their luggage. This process took an hour.

We arrived in San Juan to find the entire airport was close. We made it to the Liat counter. Were we were given our reservations ( we thought) for the next morning. U.S. Air counter was closed as was all the others. Two sets of luggage did not show up at San Juan. How do you lose luggage on a non stop flight when it was on the tarmac not 20 feet from the plane. We were taken to another fully depreciated accommodation.

The reservation list for 4 couples showed that we were leaving at different times starting at 6:00 am thru 12:30. Some where going to Philadelphia and some to Atlanta The fifth couple on a different itinerary were not on our flight to San Juan but were sent back to Barbados. That was the last time we saw any one from Liat. Since we missed our flights it was now U.S. Airs problem.

At 5:30 am I get a Text message from the first person to leave from our group stating that the reservations we received from Liat last might were not confirmed reservations but were for “Stand By”. We all scrambled and headed for the ticket counters. Over the course of several hours we stood and played the stand by games. We finally caught a flight and arrived home at midnight Sunday.

The couple that went to Barbados had to spend 2 night before flying to Atlanta were their flight was diverted to Birmingham Alabama due to weather. They got home Tuesday. Several of the couples had to buy tickets to get home

One couple did not receive their luggage for 8 days. It was in Antigua.

Do not try to send a “ Receipt Required “ Email as Liat will not accept it, they just bounce the Email back, You can not send a ‘Certified letter” as it is out of the country. When I finally got thru to Liat by phone to register a compliant and to get information to file an insurance claim, the lady responded “ You will have to wait awhile to get any things as there are hundreds in front of you”

I would go back to Dominica in a heart beat, there is so much more to do and see but I now can see why when you look a the form there are only about 600 inquires.

I will go back but I will swim from San Juan before I will get involved with Liat again.

Crapshooter

Milford, Michigan
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80 posts
29 reviews
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1. Re: LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

Crapshooter,

Everyone that travels these days unfortunately has a story like yours. We had one returning from Cancun, Mexico....and good old Delta was the culprit!

We are planning our trip to Dominica next year, have not booked our flights yet so after reading your post and others on Liat, I will avoid them at all cost. We will be departing out of Michigan, maybe go through St. Marten and then take Windward Air.

I felt your pain reading your post.....AND that Dominica is Great............

Give us courage and we will try it!

Thanks for posting

Crane Lake...
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536 posts
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2. Re: LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

Adrian 16

We stayed at the Fort Young hotel, We had very nice room all on the 2nd floor looking at the ocean. They indicate they had a few suites so I opted for it. Will this thing had two rooms (14 by 30 each), one roomn had a bar/kitchette. t.v. living room, bathroom and dinning area with a deck over looking the ocean and a side deck. The bed room was just has large with a large walk in shower in addition to seperate full size bath, makeup area for the wife and ample closet space, T.V. and King size bed and naturally a deck over the ocean.

The food at the bar area and the dinning room in the hotel was good. We were there for 7 days and 5 couples with no re complaints about the food or service. There is a nice restaurant over looking the ocean on the 2nd floor, we ate there too has well has having our breakfeat there. It was very pleasant.

We had a cocktail party in our room for our dive group. The service was fine and the food manager was great to work with, The hotel sent serveral extra trays for stuff and wine with there complments. Was a nice touch.

The Dive manager and staff were most helpful in getting the Atlantic Aquatic Dive operation to organize and out fit all of the divers who equipment was lost by Liat. The dive crew was outstanding. We could not be more happy with Ken and the dive stall as well as the hotel management and staff.

Fort Young has a great location for roaming around. We found the locals to be friendly and did not feel uncomfortable at any time.

Hope this gives you encouragement

Crapshooter

I

Crane Lake...
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536 posts
31 reviews
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3. Re: LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

Adrian 16

Been to St Lucia three time Love Jade Mountain and A.C. Did you enjoy?

Southfield, Michigan
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4. Re: LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

Your story about LIAT is something I've read about too many times.

The good news it that LIAT is replacing their fleet with ATR-72's and ATR-42's. That will help reliability. The bad news is that LIAT management apparently decided to ignore that the pilots learning to fly these new aircraft aren't available to fly their Dash-8's. Obviously LIAT believes the market is captive and they are pretty much right.

Milford, Michigan
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80 posts
29 reviews
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5. Re: LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

Our trip to St. Lucia was cancelled :(

But it is still on our bucket list!!!

We are not divers, but snorklers, hikers....with that said......

Did you prefer St. Lucia over Dominica?

Crane Lake...
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536 posts
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6. Re: LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

The accommondations at St Lucia at Jade are outstanding if it is in your prixe range, Anse Chasterne resort which is were Jade ( a luxury offering with in AC) is has different room levels/pricing and also are interesting. if you can live without walls and AC in the rooms but the higher up the hill you go the more breeze. As a general statement and having been to Dominica only once I think St. Lucia has more choices of acommondations in most price ranges. In St, Lucia you want to go to the Friday Night Jump Up and local fish fry. There is zip lining and other types of activities. I know Dominica is known for its hiking. St Lucia has three different areas, the South by Soufriere, the North by Castries and the middle coast Anse La Raye. I like the South because of Jade and the Pitons. I prefer the slower side of the fast track Castries is just another town with tour boats dropping 1000's of people on it.

I think you would fine activities on both but St. Lucia because of the highter tours level has a better tour interstructue.

Diving in both is good. I know alot of the tour boats bring people down to Soufriere to snorkle.

Finally I would go back to Dominica but a four time to St Lucia would not be turned down.

You might want to take a look at my review of Jade Mountain ans A.C.

Crapshooter

Edited: 04 September 2013, 02:54
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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597 posts
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7. Re: LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

Who did you dive with on Dominica?

What area of the island you suggest? Seems pretty diverse. I don't even know where to start. We like to hike, snorkel, do some dives for a couple days, lay on the beach, etc. But don't want to pay over $200/night for lodging, and something near restaurants or grocery store so we can cook some of our own meals and eat out when we feel like it. We just don't like to be confined to resort food.

Any suggestions on where we should start? (I actually posted something today on the forum asking advice).

Winchester, Virginia
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8. Re: LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

Crap Shooter, I feel your pain, as does anyone on here who has experienced a trip like that. I am taking my entire family to Dominica this summer, but have learned not to fly Liat - Ever! Check out these other airlines that I will list. One of them, Air Sunshine, operates out of Florida. That is what we take. Others fly Seaborne which connects directly with American Airlines so no luggage to worry with. There is Winair and Hummingbird Air as well as CIT Airlines will be servicing the island this year. Air Sunshine is a small puddle jumper but flies direct from San Juan or Fort Lauderdale. The costs vary, but some are not more than Liat.

For lodging we are staying at Firefly Cottage this year. The owner of Road Runner car rental owns this. Don't let your experience with Liat spoil your view of Dominica. It is unique place, special in its own way. Lots of choices of places to stay depending on your taste and budget. Good luck!

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41 posts
14 reviews
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9. Re: LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

It truly is a shame and even after more than 50 years in business, charging outrageously high fares (with their monopoly) they still can't get it right and only manage to negatively affect the economy of the region. Their service is so appalling that it's enough to stop people even traveling to the Caribbean. All I can say is, support the other small airlines that operate such as Air BVI, Air Sunshine and Seaborne - in the hope that they can offer some kind of competition to LIAT.

Bogota, Colombia
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42 posts
5 reviews
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10. Re: LIAT, avoid if possible or carry clothes, Dominica is GREAT

Does anyone have any information about Hummingbird Air - i read some articles about it and sound like a good alternative but can't find a way to contact them. I plan to travel next April and can¿t find good prices for Seaborne and would like to avoid LIAT. Thanks!

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