The flight between Tobago and Trinidad takes about twenty minutes, but checking in takes about two hours; it only seems like four because the line doesn’t move. Someone recently remarked it is the world’s shortest flight but with the world’s longest checking in time. Despite the meticulous and almost-computerized checking in process passengers, like myself, were left holding hand written boarding passes with nothing to board and no official word as to when and if we would be leaving Tobago. As usual, the staff of Tobago Express knew less than the passengers about flight times and they seemed at a loss as to why passengers were angry.
Finally, and more than likely by a stroke of luck, the over four hour-long chaotic wait ended with the boarding announcement for my flight, followed by a rush for seats. I didn’t look behind when I was running to the airplane while pushing aside the folks in front of me but judging from the distant screams and nearby cussing I am sure some true Trini style pushing went on.
Tobago Express, aka: Banana Airways, broke civil aviation rules by allowing passengers to sit where they wanted on the aircraft. This was further proof we are still a first rate banana republic with a third rate banana airline. The purpose of assigned seats is not only to avoid passengers rushing and fighting for the seats of their choice but a seat number can be used in the same way dental records are used in identifying those who died and shriveled up, strapped to their seats, while waiting for the aircraft to takeoff.
Civil aviation rules are very strict about preflight safety instructions, and though boring and unbelievable, the safety instructions are there for the passengers’ own good. I, like millions of others, don’t ever listen to the safety show the flight attendants perform because it lacks any genuine excitement, and furthermore the danger of an aircraft exploding in mid air is not effectively highlighted. I would agree that fear is not something you want to have on any flight so keeping the bloodshot eyes of the pilots away from the passengers is important. Seeing that we live in a world where we need to be entertained every minute of the day, I would suggest someone looking and dancing like Shakira perform the preflight safety instructions. Surely, this would have passengers at the edge of their seats waiting and drooling for the part that goes “insert the metal tag into the buckle and tighten by pulling on the loose end.” Shakira, Shakira!!