Coping with Copa

Trip Start Nov 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 20, 2011

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Where I stayed
Eco Inn Avila Hotel

Flag of Panama  ,
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I must say I don't have too many travel 'firsts’ anymore. Usually that is a good thing, but my first flight on Copa Air, from Guadalajara to Panama City started with a ‘first’.

I reluctantly left the cosiness and friendliness of the Birds of Paradise condos and made my way the 40 minutes or so to the Guadalajara airport.  The series of calamities started as soon as I arrived.  I had difficulty finding where Copa Air was processing the flight.  Copa is a Panamanian Airline and just rents space in Guad airport which is filled with the big guns:  Aeromexico, Delta, US Air and the like.  By the time I found the line, I was at the end of it.  No problem so far – still had lots of time before the flight was to board.  About five families in front of me, a large Columbian family were having their bags searched when the searchers found a few large ‘gun’ type instruments and the alarms went off and this discovery created quite a stir.  Multiple levels of folks were summoned and the family were pleading their case.  I think the guns were either paintball units or maybe the guns you use in airbrushing vehicles.  Either way they were large and quite menacing and stopped all processing of the flight.  The few of us still in line waited over an hour as the discussions ensued on whether these things were going to be able to fly in checked luggage.  When the final decision was made…yes they could….we were cutting it pretty close to our departure time and everybody was pretty cranky.

I was the last one up – presented my paperwork and the already stressed ticket guy started furiously punching in different things with regard to my ticket…..nada, nope, not good.  I translated all of this from Spanish to English for myself.  He called the supervisor…..she punched away and then told me I did not have a ticket to Panama, I had cancelled my ticket a few weeks previously and had received a refund.  By this time, the baggage guy had arrived and was wanting to grab my bag as it was too late to process it with the others – it needed to be hand delivered to the plane if it was going to make it on time.  No ticket - seemed both my bag and I were not going anywhere.  On a good day this would be stressful but not cause huge issues.  I could possibly go back to Ajijic and find a place to stay until I figured out plan B.  I could go into Guadalajara and figure out Plan C.  But on this day I needed to be on this plane because I was meeting my friend Louise and her friend Wayne in Panama City.  The ticket agent also informed me my second flight through to Ecuador on February 3 had also been cancelled – also problematic as my friend Caroline had used my flight information and had booked a seat on that same flight to Ecuador…….I asked the summoned supervisor, who was exhausted from the gun fiasco, what my options were – was there room on the plane for me and how much would it cost?  She told me there was room but the cost was very high.  Really really stupid high.  Because Copa does not have an office at the Guadalajara Airport, they don’t sell walk up tickets and are not equipped to take payment……….ahhhhhh……..and we were so out of time she had to run to go to the plane to finish the boarding process………and there my little sad bag sat…….alone……..I gave her my best PLLLEEEEAAAASSSSEEE and she agreed to try and figure out a way to sell me my ticket back at the same price and process my Visa and make it work……somehow she figured a way to override the system, borrowed  a Visa machine from US Air and got me a boarding pass. 

It pays to be calm and nice and people generally will bend over backwards and she sure did this for me.  She ran for the plane, left the first guy to do the running around and my bag and I made the flight.. 

Every time I fly I worry on the way to the airport if I have the day right because as you all know, in my charmed life, every day is a Sunday and I have difficulty remembering a Monday from a Wednesday…..but I have never worried that my ticket would not exist…until now.

 I had printed the confirmation the day before, could show the billing history online, but all that was moot when the computer says you don’t have a ticket and you have no time to argue your case.  The computer is always right and you can take it up with someone else, somewhere else.  I have a good idea what had happened but that didn’t count – what counted was a really really nice Copa crew who went the extra mile for me after an already stressful hour.
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Amber Pettem-Shand on

Hello Deb!
Thanks for these postings, as always, a very enjoyable read and giggle (you should try the airlines in Africa)!

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