Brutal complaint letter gets billionaire's attention

Richard Branson liked the gripe about Caribbean airline LIAT so much that he published it on his site.

By Kim Peterson Jul 2, 2013 1:55PM
File photo of Richard Branson on May 17, 2013 (© Todd Vansickle/AP Photo)Writing a brilliant complaint letter and getting the attention of billionaire Sir Richard Branson (pictured)? Arthur Hicks accomplished this with his missive about horrible treatment from Caribbean airline LIAT.

Hicks wrote a hilarious open letter to the airline in April to vent about a flight that included six changeovers -- a hiccup that Hicks clearly wasn't expecting. LIAT lost his bag as well, and his arrival was so late that he missed his boat from Tortola.

This would be enough to make any traveler irate. But Hicks decided to take a humorous approach, and published his letter in The BVI Beacon, a newspaper in the British Virgin Islands.

Here's the text of Hicks' letter:
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.
Branson tweeted about the letter and republished it on his blog under the headline "How to write a complaint letter." Branson does not own LIAT, but he founded Virgin Atlantic Airways and received a 2009 passenger letter that also went viral. That letter complained about the food on a Virgin flight and also included photos. "How can you live like this?" the Virgin passenger asked Branson. "I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary."

Branson said he called the customer who wrote him the letter to apologize. It's unclear if LIAT -- which Branson said is referred to by colleagues as "Languishing in Airport Terminals" -- has responded to Hicks.

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