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Returnees Must Pay For Flight

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

SANDRA Moss is angry that her son, a college student in Arkansas, has to pay Bahamasair to return to the country this week even though residents who were repatriated here during the first exercise flew on the airline free of charge.

“This is not fair,’ she said yesterday. “Don’t start something that you can’t finish. They made it seem like they’re going to bring y’all home, that you should make the arrangements and we’ll bring you. They just ain making no sense.”

Bahamasair has flights scheduled to leave from Fort Lauderdale on Thursday and Saturday, with one flight going directly to New Providence and the other stopping first in Grand Bahama to disembark some passengers before heading to New Providence with the remaining passengers. The cost of fare is $150, though customers can use an existing ticket if they have one.

Tommy Turnquest, chairman of Bahamasair, confirmed yesterday that the “government paid for everyone to come home” during the first pair of repatriation exercises earlier this month.

Most of the 183 people who returned to the country at the time had already been in Florida but Ms Moss’ son is among residents who have to take connecting flights to get to Fort Lauderdale, increasing his expenses. The government covered the cost of tests for returnees connected to the first two flights but it is not clear if that benefit will be provided again.

“These are students,” said Ms Moss, who used an alias for this article. “Even if they were students with a little job or something, that job has been stopped now for months and they don’t have any entitlements in the States, no social security or otherwise to help them. They been over there for months now and everything shut down. The parents over here probably already lose their jobs and may not be able to send a ticket for them to come home. I’m a nurse, I have a job. I had to send basically last month my whole salary to my son because he has to pay rent, he has to find food and this is his graduation year, so basically the remainder of his fees had to be paid.”

Her 24-year-old son, an electrical engineering student at the University of Arkansas, told The Tribune it will cost $348 for him to get a flight from that state to Atlanta and $213 to get from Atlanta to Florida.

One reason he stayed in Arkansas, he said, is that 2020 is his graduation year and he had to remain in contact with a professor who will sponsor his graduate school education.

“This a lot of money for him to be coming home and when he gets to Florida he shouldn’t have to pay to come on Bahamasair,” Ms Moss said. “They repatriate the illegal immigrants for free so why can’t you bring your own people home, and not just people, but students for free?”

Ms Moss said she tried to get her son on one the first two flights that left Fort Lauderdale earlier this month but had no luck because officials in consulate offices did not answer phones or respond to messages.

“Initially we assumed the Bahamasair flight would be free because their first flight was free,” she said. “We just find out now he has to pay.”

The Minnis administration has grappled before with deciding to pay for people to return to the country because such decisions can create the impression people are entitled to a free trip.

In March, before the borders were shut, Education Minister Jeff Lloyd told this newspaper the government chartered a plane to Jamaica to bring 61 students studying around the region. However, he said the students will have to reimburse the government for the flight and he warned that the policy of sending flights for students overseas would be reviewed because it could not be a benefit citizens come to expect.

Progressive Liberal Party chairman Fred Mitchell criticised the uneven policy yesterday. “On the face of it, it seems like a double standard,” he said. “The British, when it sent their flight in to pick up its citizens, they announced the charge would be five hundred pounds so people had to pay for their return home. Once you start by saying we are going to get you back home, that creates an expectation that you are going to do just that and that there isn’t a cost associated with it.

“If this is the case that they’re charging people for these flights, one simple mechanism might be to allow the commercial airlines from the United States which I understand are coming in to pick up US citizens, let them be allowed to bring Bahamian citizens by using the same procedures as Bahamasair because it may be cheaper for the people to use them than taking on all the additional charges that we are hearing about.”

Comments

moncurcool 1 month, 2 weeks ago

We have gotten so use in the Bahamas to believing that the government is our Saviour so everything should be free. But then when taxes go up we complained. We cannot have it both ways. Somebody has to pay for all the stuff. If I was the son I would stay put and just go to graduate school. What come back here for? Honestly, government should have charged the first group from Ft. Lauderdale, just as they were doing all along.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

When the govt causes the problem it's their responsibility to fix it at their cost. Can you imagine having a ticket for a flight home on the day they closed the airport? Or a day or 2 days later? How is that trying to get a free ride? You had a ticket. The govt with poor planning messed it up. The govt could have avoided all of this by telling citizens the airport will close in 5 days, get home. There was precedence because Trump had already done the same thing.

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moncurcool 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I do not dispute the fact that the PM should have given some notice before closing the borders. It would have been better.

I was not home when the PM did his press conference that Sunday and was hinting at a curfew was going to go in place at 9 the next morning on movements. The minute I heard it I knew it would not be long before the borders closed. That Monday morning at 5:00 am I was at the airport seeking to get fight home. Before the week was out borders were closed. I'm not saying everyone like me, but too often we like to sit back and not be proactive and then want the government to do.

Besides, the situation in this article, the grown adult (not a child now) was in school when the borders closed, and made a choice to stay because he wanted to be close to a professor who could get him a scholarship to grad school. So his coming home now is not the responsibility of the government.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I had to pick up someone from the airport at ~9PM and I called the police to ask how it would work with the curfew. I also checked around for other earlier flights and I called Bahamasair to see if they'd be in operation just in case. so please implying that Bahamians weren't thinking. the govt messed up.

This article gives one scenario. There are MANY legitimate reasons persons had to travel. And even still I'm sure this student probably made their decision to stay from back in January or February. He didn't make a decision to stay March 20th.

Stop making it seem like a bunch of dumb Bahamians get stuck outside the country. the govt messed up. I keep referencing DAguilar and Jibrilu who were in the papers in March talking about bringing European conventions here and benefiting from COVID.

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moncurcool 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Stop missing the point. I indicated the government did not close the borders with sufficient time. However, the article is referring to one particular situation. And trying to have the government pay it is nonsense, especially since the government was not responsible for you son staying at school. Separate the issues.

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pileit 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Entitled people looking across the yard at what the neighbor got. If you have a better way of getting your kid home, do so, otherwise pay the damn $150.

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Not to mention that the Tribune allowed this woman to hide behind an “alias” throughout the article. An “alias”? Who does that? If you believe in what you’re saying, you put your name to it.

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stislez 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Y so people cud look her up on facebook an torment her life.............yinna done talkin ish na!

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The_Oracle 1 month, 2 weeks ago

That which is free is always in short supply.

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

... except for “opinions,” of course ... 😎

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stillwaters 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This nurse is even now getting a salary......and STILL complaining......she might want to speak with some unemployed people and then ......maybe.....count her damn blessings

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

She can complain. Her son is stranded and she has to pay an unplanned 500 plus for tickets and another 200 for a test before her son can get home. Every minute he's over there is more money out of the meager salary shes currently receiving. And he would have had a return ticket. You can't go to school on a one way ticket.

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Her son is a 24-year-old adult male. By the time I was that age I had a college degree, a wife, a child, a job, and a sense that I was responsible for myself, not having my mommy go crying to a newspaper every time I had a problem.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

If Dorian2 hits Nassau I hope you keep that I made it on my own attitude. The only reason any stranded Bahamian has made it home so far is because of public agitation from families friends and other concerned and caring Bahamians.

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The person we are talking about is not an Abaco victim of Dorian; he is a 24-year-old adult male who is residing in the United States — but, apparently, still relies on his mummy to tie his shoes.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

what does coming from Abaco have to do with it? The entire country saw 6 very wealthy Americans with their own private plane, and a home in Albany buy their way into the country with COVID test kits. Depending on Mommy has nothing to do with it. Again, the only reason any stranded Bahamian has made it home to date is because of public agitation, a community screaming this is not right.

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

You raised the analogy of “if Dorian2 hits”; I’m just saying your analogy does not apply here: you’re talking apples vs. oranges. Nor do the 6 wealthy Americans have anything to do with it — and, by the way, pay attention: they did not bring “test kits,” they brought “swabs,” which are nothing more than a Q-tip on a longer stick, which makes it even worse.

It still has nothing to do with a 24-year-old adult male who needs his mummy cryin’ for him. I’m sure his cell phone cost far more than his ticket home would.

“Ms. Moss” — under her fake name — said, “Don’t start something that you can’t finish.“ I agree with her on that: Don’t fly to the U.S. if you can’t afford to fly home. If there had been no Covid, would the government have been responsible for flying him home? Uh ... no.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

What are you talking about. You cannot fly to the US on a one-way ticket. at least thats what I remember. The return date could be open but they will not allow you in on a one way ticket. And if he was trying to organize his grad studies in February there was literally zero reason for him to be thinking I need to be trying to get myself out of here because in the 3rd week in March, 8 weeks (or more) from now the govt might shut the airport.

I suspect you dont have kids either. 80 year old mothers will fight for their 60 year old kids. It's called love.

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

He could fly home on a one way ticket.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The "if Dorian2 hits" was an ode to your empathyless core. You would be in a position where you needed help. I see alot of comments like yours from persons confident that the universe cant shake the ground theyre standing on.

And the reference to the rich Americans with the test kits was to show they needed help too, they didn't need mommy crying for them. They had money to get the Minister of Health, Minister of Immigration and Minister of Tourusm to do it for them. All this young man has is his mother and the Tribune.

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buddah17 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Boy... Looking at the comments one can surmise: Bahamians one HARD set a' people!

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Tribal242 1 month, 2 weeks ago

So my things is, when your child went away for school how did he expect to come home, outside of this coronavirus thing? Fine, the government paid for the first flights, its come and gone now and nothing can be done about it. In my opinion this is something they will regret, not because I have an issue with them helping, but because our country is already having problems paying people their NIB and other social services to help them survive. Many people are hurting, so you should feel blessed that your son can come home and be with this family during this time.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

"They made it seem like they’re going to bring y’all home, that you should make the arrangements and we’ll bring you. They just ain making no sense."

People ask for transparency but interestingly enough, the govt is always telegraphing their moves,... if we would just look. The only reason there was any talk of bringing Bahamians home was because of the heat from allowing the 6 Americans in. From that standpoint it was clear they would do just enough so talk could die down. Also, the embassy in Miami was telling stranded Bahamians that they had no idea what would happen after the first flight. When Treco Mackey show up on that flight it was clear she knew that would be the last of its kind. They probably didnt intend to run any other flights at all.

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Sickened 1 month, 2 weeks ago

So, if this kid got a free trip back, do you think when he gets to use his ticket later - because he's entitled to a trip from his unused ticket - is he going to donate that to someone who needs it? I think I know the answer to that. I would love to know if these people asking for handouts ever help a brother out? Sounds like they just want tings from other people.

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Sickened 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I wonder if other countries have so many needy friggin beggars?

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TigerB 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I wonder if the was the United States and not the Bahamas Gov't, under the same situation, what would her cries be... The government broke from paying out all this money... and people still think they owe them something. This is insane.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The United States had their chance, so you dont have to wonder. Here's what they did:

They made a hasty decision. Put everyone (Americans and Europeans) in Europe in a tizzy. But they also said yes, we have to do this drastic thing but we'll give you a window in which to get home. The next thing they did, not sure if it was worldwide but certainly here, they continued running special flights to allow persons to get back.

Answer: If the young man was an American caught in the Bahamas after the airport closure, he would have been home.

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Not so. The U.S. only flew home citizens who were stranded in places where commercial flights were no longer flying. That’s not the case here, as he now has a commercial option available.

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hrysippus 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This woman's stated position is indefensible, more it is pathetic. keep her out as long as possible, the country is better off without citizens who think that the primary job of an elected government is to cater to their needs and wants.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

You couldn't have read the article. Her son is outside the country. And the woman you say should be banished from the Bahamas is a nurse, one of those people who we Bahamians say we appreciate so much for all the hard work they been doing over the past 2 plus months fighting for US. I guess your suggestion is for us to show her our appreciation by telling her get out the country and take her family with her.

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pileit 1 month, 2 weeks ago

dude... your bleeding heart it could be you talks are baseless.... there is no obligation to bring people home, its a policy decision. On the one hand the populace sees the flag carrier as a millstone around the neck of the treasury, yet let a hurricane threaten Jamaica, ALL the Bahamian students expect to fly out via Bahamasair! Same thing now with COVID evac. But whats this now... yinna don't want to PAY for it! amazing. viewing cake and chomping on it. The government gave notice of border shutdown, you made your call, stop crying. My kid is abroad now because we factored in the closure advisory and decided to leave her in position. Would I indignantly approach my government to waive a token fee to get her home? Hell no, I hold MYSELF accountable for my choices.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The govt didnt give no notice stop making things up. And no they don't want to pay for another ticket, they'd already bought a ticket

Bringing people home ahead of the hurricane was a policy decision. Bringing them home post COVID is correcting a misstep.

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pileit 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Bro talk what you know(or didn't) Emerg Order 2 was leaked 23rd march, flights continued UNABATED through Friday 27th.... check the flight records lest you feel misled. We had 2 WestJet options, elected to remain at Uni...anyone affected shouldv'e been hella engaged with breaking news , regional trends, and developments, stop defending lassitude.

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Why this story is bullshit: I went online and checked, The University of Arkansas shut down completely by March 13. The excuse that this man had to be physically near his professor, rather than returning to Nassau, is simply false. He could be in contact with his professor via computer, like every other student. This story is based on ... lies and nothing more.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I recall staying an extra term to consult with my professor. Do you know when I requested permission to do so? 3 months earlier. But you're assuming this guy on March 10th said hmmm everywhere shutting down so I'm gonna stay and try my luck. It nah go so.

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moncurcool 1 month, 2 weeks ago

All the more for the story not to be in the paper. He made a decision long before he was not coming home. He had not planned to come and the border closed just beef his flight.

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Sickened 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Sounds like this young man and the professor had a 'thing' going on. They mussy break up now and young man now wants to come home to mommy!

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

You were not facing a deadly global pandemic. This is a 24-year-old man who now has an (expensive) engineering degree from a major American university, and he is whining to his mummy who is whining to the newspaper over a lousy $150 Bahamasair ticket from FLL to Nassau? He’s now an engineer and he can’t figure any of this out?

Spare me. You make it sound like him and mummy are facing something disastrous, like cancer or a broken back. It’s a $150 airline ticket. This boy gonna ‘xpect mummy, or the newspaper, or the government to bail him out all his life? I’ll bet you he spent more than that on his last pair of Air Jordans.

I’d be so ashamed if I was 24 and still expected my mummy to work to pay my rent, pay my airfare, and wipe my runny nose.

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Bullshit, Part II:

Think this through: This guy claims the reason he was extending his stay was to remain close to his professor to plan for his GRADUATE SCHOOL semester, starting next year.

Now, if this guy can’t come up with $150 for a Bahamasair fare from FLL to NAS, how in bejeezus was he planning to fund a GRADUATE SCHOOL program at the University of Arkansas, in the United States? Was he hopin’ mummy could get a second job to pay those bills, too?

This whole story smells like a week-old grouper.

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