Though it is said that air travel is statistically safer than traveling our congested highways, it’s the high probability for loss that gets me. Thankfully, all 162 passengers on board Caribbean Airlines are alive but when I heard the news of the crash late Saturday night, I felt a sense of unease.
As someone who travels frequently, this type of news always shakes me even though my attitude is, if it’s going to happen, there’s little I can do. I think of the time a few years ago in Spain when news reached us of a crash just as we were about to board a flight. We were delayed for several tense hours but when our flight was ready, we went with it. I also recall the American Airlines crashed near Queens in 2001. I tried not to see any of the photos as I was flying out the following morning. And finally, I think of a friend who was lost on Air France 447. The relief I’ve felt that no lives lost were almost overshadowed by these other thoughts.
Despite the 2010 crash of American Airlines in Jamaica (no lives were lost), there have been few crashes in the region. Before Saturday, Caribbean Airlines, since 2006 the successor to BWIA (British West Indian Airways), had a spotless record. A few months ago, it took over ownership of Air Jamaica, an airline that had a not-so-spotless on-time record and an excellent safety record. It has a well seasoned crew.
But many passengers will not be thinking about that when they go to book their next flight on Caribbean Airlines. When asked by the media for an opinion, a man on the street said flat out that he would not fly the regional carrier.
We shouldn’t be so quick to write off Caribbean Airlines. No doubt, it will need to work hard to rebuild customer trust. It can start by reminding passengers of its excellent record.