It sounds unlikely, but often passengers only notice at the check-in at the Johan Adolf Pengel airport in Zanderij that they have forgotten their passport at home. A second document that is often overlooked is the yellow fever book. Ground Handling supervisor, Awinash Orie, advises stapling it to the passport. This document is physically mandatory for regional flights. Destinations, such as Aruba, no longer accept photographs of the book. There are even more stories to share about the daily experience of Ground Handling staff at the airport.
Number one on the list is excess baggage. Passengers who know in advance that they have excess baggage pay for this in the city, but they too may be in for a surprise sometimes. Orie explains to these passengers: “Come with your receipt. Don’t forget this, because at the airport you not only have to pay again, but it is also more expensive. ”Luggage up to 32 kg can (still) be taken on the flight. At a higher weight it categorizes under freight. A fixed amount applies to all destinations, only to Belém, excess baggage is charged per kilo. Baggage with extraordinary dimensions must also be paid separately. Be informed about this at the Passengers’ Office of Surinam Airways.
Drunk passengers are a phenomenon that staff are confronted with. “You can smell it when they check in,” says Service Manager Anouchka van Hamme. In such cases, the suitcase is placed on the waiting list. If things get out of hand later and the passenger no longer leaves, then the suitcase can be found in an instant. “Unruly Passengers” also includes passengers with aggressive behavior. This is especially the case with passengers who are struggling with excess baggage and are therefore getting upset. Like the drunk guests, they too receive the same suitcase treatment, and are closely monitored by Airport Security.
Dependent people do not have to wait until they are at the check-in counter, but can already make the requirement when booking. Please find more information here on the website. This group of travelers is divided into three categories. There are passengers, especially the elderly, who cannot walk long distances. The second group cannot go up and down the stairs and the last one is the so-called carry off. These people are completely immobile and may only travel under supervision. No extra costs will be charged for service to persons in need.
If an adult checks in with a child, the first thing the counter staff looks at is the surnames. If they do not match, a written statement must be presented. The same applies to a grandparent who travels with a grandchild. The statement can be a letter from the notary or from both parents legalized by a notary. Surinam Airways offers a form, free of charge, which can be filled out at the Passengers’ Office or on location at the airport. Each time by both parents and of course the necessary identification must be presented. In the country of destination, immigration will also ask for a written statement. In the travel world, anyone under the age of 18 falls under the category ‘minor’.
Minors traveling alone are called a Unaccompanied Minor or UMNR Person. There are costs associated with this service. Ground Service accompanies the minor on board, where the Purser signs for takeover. Upon arrival, the Purser hands over the responsibility to the local Ground Service, who in turn hands over the minor to those who have to come to collect him or her. It is also important that the person who dropped off the UMNR is obliged to stay at the airport until the plane has taken off.
Timely Check in
Finally, both supervisors advise that passengers should make sure that they are properly informed. “Often it is about simple things such as the dates of the visa and the ticket. They must match. If we let the passenger through, we can count on a heavy fine from the authorities. SLM sells tickets; we are not responsible for visa or yellow fever vaccines.”
The closing for the check in is internationally set at two hours before departure. Only the Online Check-in without check-in baggage may be processed up to an hour before departure. “So be on time, because even though SLM wants to help you, there are other procedures such as Immigration and Security that can cause delays.”
Text & photos: Charles Chang, October 2019
Translation: Peggyta Bruinhart, 2019