Today’s Editorial January 29: CAL needs to improve

Sometimes lessons are learned in the most painful way.

Consider the complaints commissioner’s recent peak into the charges that Cayman Airways priced gouged its customers in the run up to Hurricane Dean.

About 100 people were overcharged in their attempts to flee Grand Cayman as Hurricane Dean approached us in August.

On the surface it appeared that our national carrier was taking advantage of people caught up in a bad situation.

After all the dust had settled we learned that Cayman Airways airlifted 5,300 people from Grand Cayman. While those waiting to be evacuated endured some miserable conditions at the airport, Cayman Airways is to be commended for putting on extra flights and safely getting people off the island.

We hope that now those in the lead at Cayman Airways will take what was learned from the Hurricane Dean evacuation and the complaints commissioner’s report and make some improvements.

The high prices some people were forced to pay wasn’t an attempt to unfairly charge people. It was merely a matter of ignorance.

Basically, the staff manning the computers didn’t know how to use the programme that sets ticket prices.

One would think that after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 everyone and every business in this country would have come up with an adequate hurricane preparedness policy and plan.

It seems CAL didn’t.

The overpricing is proof that the airline had no ticket sales policy for emergency situations in place.

The commissioner’s report also cites a lack of communication at the airline within in the organisation and with others.

The airline was also accused of not having an adequate or proper customer complaints procedure.

We understand that many people who were overcharged in the Dean evacuation have received refunds. Some overseas passengers may not have received refunds because they simply didn’t know about the offer; again, a communication issue.

But the issuing of refunds is not enough.

Now that CAL is aware of the issues it’s time the organisation addresses them and comes up with solutions.

There are three clear things CAL can do immediately: Get the staff properly trained on computer programmes, improve communication and fix that problem that passengers have complained long and loud about for years, customer service.