11/15/2010

if it sounds to good to be true....

...it probably is.

Damn I hate when that saying rings true. The last few days have been sad, very sad and very very frustrating for me. As you may remember I was a winner of a free flight with Copa Airlines and I should be enjoying grilled meat, malbec and excitedly planning my days ahead...But alas I am still in PTY. Why?

Despite having been in communication through various phone calls, and emails with the organizer of this so called "prize," unfortunately neither her nor the short concise letter they gave me explained the horrible risks I would be taking. This note outlines various restrictions as to date and destination, as well as that I needed at least 15 working days to notify them, and present my certificate in order to get my ticket. After communication with said organizer who confirmed that there would be no problem and there was space I made my reservation a good two months prior to my flight date. What was NOT explained was that the ticket, did no guarantee an actual seat on the plane but was actually a Stand By ticket that IF (and only IF), for some reason by the grace of God some one doesn't show up I might get a seat on the plane. On top of that this flight to Montevideo is apparently almost always restricted. I now know that these flights to South America are of restricted, meaning that the plane is never filled to full capacity due to weight and balance.....Now maybe I'm an exception but I don't think this is common knowledge. Well, after waiting over two hours at the gate, stress fully as one by one the passengers showed up for the flight and having to compete with 3 other very upset costumers, I was coldly told that I was not getting on that flight. Add insult to injury, I'm told to come back the next day (only 1 flight PTY-Montevideo daily), AND as the attendant explains to the other passengers that they have hotel, transportation, food vouchers, and 100% guarantee they will be on the flight the next day and that I would NOT. I had a special ticket and didn't have priority. He asked if I was an en employee and I said NO this was a prize, ah well that's why you don't have prioty those tickets are based on availability. WHAT!? Um, so what does this mean now? I was given another ticket for the next day, but told it would be the same situation. I cried right then and there and stormed out of the airport....

Stupidly I prayed and prayed that I could still get out to my trip and not ruin months of planning and money, not to mention a friend waiting to show me around Buenos Aires. Sadly, the next day was an even worse realization that this was basically NOT going to happen. I had been tricked into believing that this was a prize worth accepting. After crying and making a scene basically anyone working for Copa at the airport couldn't do squat and I had to take it up with the person who have be the prize if I had a complaint. I have canceled the reservations I could, but the hotel deposits and ferry tickets are non refundable. Angry, tired, hungry and a few $ poorer I must say this was been a BAD experience.....

Today was spent a good 2 hours on the phone with the woman who issued me this prize...she finally explained all the risks and knitty gritties that she FAILED to inform me before of hand about the terms of these types of tickets and the problems with the destination I had chosen. At this point it's a little too late. Her offers to extend the prize and change destination are hardly tempting to me since, it would still be an issue of being on stand by until I could get a flight.

Out of all this I just thank God that this mess happened while in the country that I live...for I would have also been left on stand by on my return flight to PTY, and worse since it was a flight for 3:51 am. I would have been left hanging in the middle of the night with no where to go in a foreign country all alone, for God knows how many days on flights that are always restricted...Does that sound like a prize to you? This situation is beyond absurd!

UPDATE: after fight back & with the help of ACODECO (like consumer protection) I was able to get COPA to give me a real ticket so I went to Guatemala!
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3 comments:

Ash said...

That sucks! I would call a newspaper or something...what a joke! That's so not fair. I'm sure they got a lot of promotional business from this contest and the prize isn't even real!

gisselle said...

Well Laurie, my sister used to work in Copa, and we got those kind of tickets too, I know what you been through, it really sucked, even for those who are actually working for Copa, and use a boarding pass ticket for a relative, are in ''stand by''... ''that's a company policy'' and there is nothing anyone could possibly do, but the person who gave you the ticket, SHE was supposed to explain you everything since the beginning, so maybe you could chose another destination... Traveling to Argentina, or anywhere else in South America, anytime is a risk, on that condition. Could be worse as you said, thanks God that happened here, and not there, trying to get into a plain flying back to Panama, from Argentina with a ''stand by'' ticket... that happened to Sixto and Massielle a few years ago, we were so worried, they were together and found their way to came back on time, but that is not the case. Queda de experiencia, y es bueno que la compartas.

gabi said...

Ouch Laurie!

Thankfully I have never had to travel with a Stand-By ticket... but I've heard about that and it's terrible. Definitely thankful that it happened to you here and not in a foreign country in the middle of the night!

I actually had a similar situation (with Delta) in South Carolina where they delayed our flight because of plane mechanics and then tried to say that because of the weather they had to put us on another plane and... anyway. I was stuck in Atlanta with nowhere to sleep (but the dirty airport floor) for 24 hours because of the daily flights to Panama. Certainly a Christmas to remember!

Horrible! So... I share your pain. Trust me I wrote EVERYONE bad reviews and horrible letters. At some point they mailed me a $70 voucher ... hahaha which I used... to pay for like 1/10 of a flight or soemthing...

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