Today we look at an incident involving a security guard at the customs area of the Piarco International Airport, and his alleged “unprofessional and discourteous” conduct when two Government Ministers were denied access to an exit door.
The incident on September 20th saw an exchange between the security officer and the Minister of Foreign affairs, before the party could exit via the Customs area, where they were being directed.
A suspension letter given to the officer indicated that he was correct to advise the Ministers they couldn’t exit through that door. However it said CCTV footage showed his unsatisfactory conduct, leading to his suspension from duty.
The Airports Authority told the officer he is expected to be able to recognize members of the Cabinet and to facilitate their requests or enquiries in a courteous and professional manner. To this we say… if his behavior was indeed discourteous, then this disciplinary move is justified.
However, the behavior that the officer is being told to show the Ministers must be shown to all persons exiting that airport terminal. Persons, whether citizens or visitors, should be shown the same courtesies and this applies not only to the security officers but to customs and immigration officials.
A couple years ago, following a brouhaha involving Jamaican nationals, immigration officials were retrained in customer service and we believe this training should continue with all officers working at the airport.
We’ve had too many reports of people being greeted by rude officials for no particular reason. We know some passengers can be rude themselves, but even in those situations, officers at the airport should be readily trained to deal with any type of behavior or situation in the most professional manner.
Good customer service should not be made available only to diplomats and other officials who walk through the important immigration lines. We want to be a tourist-oriented country, and to facilitate foreign investment, trade and business, so let’s start the smiles at the airport.
The public should now be told clearly where in the airport they should direct their complaints against unprofessional and discourteous security officers and officials. We trust that the AA can then use their CCTV technology to verify such reports and dish out suspensions, just as they did in the situation with the two Ministers.