Aeromexico / stranded in costa rica by air mexico
March 28th, 2017
I am writing this letter in Costa Rica as, through no fault of our own, we have been left here stranded and angry. After our wonderful two week holiday here in Costa Rica, we expected to get on a plane back home to Vancouver, Canada, however, as we were boarding our plane, the Air Mexico agents/staff told us our boarding passes were invalid and we would not be able to fly. We were in shock and followed the advice of Air Mexico staff to call our Travel Agent to see what they could do. This began five nightmare hours at San Jose airport, trying to find out the cause and a way to get home to family, friends, school and our jobs.
But let me start from the beginning…
Our family of four had been dreaming of a trip to Costa Rica for years and when we were finally able to achieve our dream we made our first stop at the Flight Centre in Langley to try to book plane tickets. Our travel agent, Shay Fraser, booked us tickets through Alaska Air, returning on Air Mexico for March 10th to March 24th. When we realized there would be a 12 hr layover in LA overnight with two children we asked Shay to change our ticket to make the layover shorter (down to an 8 hr layover). We paid the change in schedule fee and it appeared that all was set. I must add that Shay was new to her job and did not appear to effectively manage the computer system or her job very well, as we had multiple concerns with her lack of communication and ability to organize everything. We undertook to chase up details for ourselves and visited another travel agent at the Flight Centre named Jas Grewal. Jas was helpful and definitely appeared to be able to sort out some things for us. When she looked at the details of our flights on the computer, Jas stated, ‘they appear to be in a mess’. (I have kept e-mails to show that the service provided by Shay was very poor). We don't know if this was where the problem with the ticket originated, but we were told later that there appeared to be new ticket numbers issued.
We had an uneventful flight down on March 10th, and we were able to enjoy two weeks in Costa Rica. On March 23rd, about 23 hrs prior to our flight, I attempted to check in on-line through the Air Mexico website but encountered a problem so proceeded to phone Air Mexico to see if we could check in over the phone. The Representative told me that he was unable to help us but that we could check in at the airport and everything should work out fine. We decided to also phone Alaska Air who told us that we could check in at the airport. We arrived just over three hours ahead of our flight, checked in, got our boarding passes and checked our luggage. The Agent reviewed our details with us, including gate number and boarding time. We passed through Security and waited for our plane. At about 12:15 we stood in line to board for our 12:37 flight (AM691) to Mexico City, and onwards to Vancouver on flight AM694. When the agent took our boarding passes she looked worried and asked us to step aside. It appeared that four other passengers also had boarding passes for the same seats. We were told by the staff at the gate that our tickets were invalid and we wouldn't be able to get on the plane. We were shocked as we had gone through every appropriate step and not one staff member had told us that the tickets were invalid. We wondered if this had been noticed at check in that perhaps the problem might have been solved three hours prior, not minutes before the plane was to take off?!
At 12:20, we were escorted by an Air Mexico staff member, Gina Diaz, through Immigration and to the baggage collection area to collect our luggage which had been taken off the airplane. She stated that we would need to go back to check in to see if the problem could be solved. 40 minutes later we arrived back at the Air Mexico check in desk to be told that their records showed our tickets were invalid and that we would have to contact our travel agent. At that point (13:30 hrs) we contacted our travel agency in Canada and spoke to Jas Grewal. She stated she would contact the airlines and see what could be done. Jas called us at 14:05 hrs to state she was still trying to deal with the Airlines and asked that we phone our Insurance company (Manulife) through which we had full travel, cancellation and interruption insurance. At 14:10, I called our Insurance company and spoke to ‘Lizzy’ who told me that Insurance wouldn't cover us under these circumstances. At 14:30 hrs, I called Jas, the travel agent to make her aware that Insurance wouldn't cover us and she stated that she was still talking to Alaska Air to find a solution. We waited for one and a half hours and finally Jas called us to say that the fault was with Air Mexico and could we go to the Air Mexico office to request that they find a solution. I tried to find the office and asked several people at the airport but none were able to help. I asked where the Alaska Air office was and knocked on their door. When I explained our situation, the staff told me it was the fault of Air Mexico and one of the staff members, ‘Naomi’, took me down to the Air Mexico office. Naomi explained our situation to the Air Mexico staff in Spanish and I broke down in tears. At this point, we had been trying to find out what to do for hours, we had been at the airport for six hours and everyone seemed to be blaming others for this problem. The only good thing that happened at that moment was that Naomi, the Alaska Air staff member, could see that it was a terrible situation and that Air Mexico weren't going to do anything for us, so she took pity on us and said she would see what she could do. She called Alaska Air Reservations and they found us tickets for the following day but there were only two available seats so I would have to leave two family members in Costa Rica. Obviously I said we wouldn't be able to do this as I wasn't prepared to leave any of my family, especially my children! So, the only other option was a flight leaving on March 29th at 16:10 hrs. As it was obvious that we wouldn't get any other options, we gratefully accepted the seats (and hope that we will be able to board this flight tomorrow!
Tired and frustrated, and while all the airline staff were going home, we realized that we would have to arrange accommodation on our own. We attempted to return to the hotel we had stayed in the previous night but they didn't have any available rooms. They suggested another and we were able to secure a room for 15% off. I am highlighting this as we are entitled to coverage for accommodation, food, transportation, and for loss of wages (details of which I am happy to provide in receipts, etc). I repeat, none of this was in any way our fault and someone needs to compensate us! We feel we went above and beyond to ensure we would get on the flight home, a flight we paid for in full, and we were left to fend for ourselves with no one taking responsibility for their mistakes. After such a stressful and frustrating experience, we are fully prepared to go to whatever measures we need to to be adequately compensated. We are sending this letter to all parties and expect that those involved in causing this serious mistake will take responsibility and provide compensation.
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