Richard Branson Helps LIAT Complaint Letter Go Viral


By the Caribbean Journal staff

It started out as a simple complaint letter in a local newspaper in the British Virgin Islands, but it soon went viral.

Tennis pro Arthur Hicks, writing in the BVI Beacon newspaper, wrote satirically to Caribbean carrier LIAT of how he “particularly enjoyed sampling the security scanners at each and every airport” and criticized the myriad delays he endured on each island.

Then, last week, Branson tweeted the letter to his almost 3.3 million followers.

The move comes about four years after a similar complaint letter about Branson’s own Virgin Atlantic (which Branson referenced in his piece on that was considered by many to be the best airline complaint letter of all time.

“I phoned the customer who wrote the [original note] to apologise and thank him for his letter after he experienced a less than perfect culinary experience on board one of our planes,” Branson said, citing the 2009 letter. “It is important to take customer feedback on board in order to improve – and also to be able to laugh at yourself.”

The Beacon is a local newspaper for Branson, as he has has owned Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands for more than three decades.

“As a colleague said: ‘I guess this is why LIAT is reputed to stand for Languishing In Airport Terminals!’,” Branson wrote. “But seriously, making customer service key to your company will keep your employees motivated and your customers happy. This in turn ensures enduring loyalty, business success and a better experience for everyone.”

The full letter is below.

Dear LIAT, 

May I say how considerate it is of you to enable your passengers such an in-depth and thorough tour of the Caribbean. 

Most other airlines I have travelled on would simply wish to take me from point A to B in rather a hurry. I was intrigued that we were allowed to stop at not a lowly one or two but a magnificent six airports yesterday. And who wants to fly on the same airplane the entire time? We got to change and refuel every step of the way!

I particularly enjoyed sampling the security scanners at each and every airport. I find it preposterous that people imagine them all to be the same. And as for being patted down by a variety of islanders, well, I feel as if I’ve been hugged by most of the Caribbean already.

I also found it unique that this was all done on “island time,” because I do like to have time to absorb the atmosphere of the various departure lounges. As for our arrival, well, who wants to have to take a ferry at the end of all that flying anyway? I’m glad the boat was long gone by the time we arrived into Tortola last night — and that all those noisy bars and restaurants were closed.

So thank you, LIAT. I now truly understand why you are “The Caribbean Airline.”

P.S. Keep the bag. I never liked it anyway.


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