Friday, November 11, 2022


I'm not sure I'm enjoying this.

Bloody Volaris Airlines. First, two weeks before my flight out of Oaxaca, they cancel it and propose an alternative four days later—um, no thank you?—requiring me to research and book new routes while I'm on the road. That cancelled flight was direct to Cancun, where I would stay in transit as a staging post for one non-refundable night at a resort I booked (more on that later). So, trying to preserve some of my spent money, I book new flights with my Volaris credit to get to Cancun via Mexico City—two flights now, so more expensive. Had I known this a month ago I'd have just booked a night in Mexico City in the first place, en route to my next destination, Costa Rica.

Okay, so Oaxaca is pretty crazy with tourists at the moment. It's the day after the week-long celebrations have ended for the first big post-lockdown Day of the Dead, and at 6.30am the small Oaxaca City airport is completely overrun. Volaris has only a handful of staff, insufficient to handle the volume. Though I've already checked in online, it still takes me 90 minutes in the queue to reach the overworked woman at the counter and check my backpack. The flight is to Mexico City; I tell her my destination is Cancun. She tells me point blank my luggage is going to Mexico City. She needs to process all the passengers, my flight is about to leave, and frankly we are both just concerned with getting me on it. I don't have time to argue. I turn and run to the security queue.

Forget it. It's the same 90-minute queue I just finished. Impossible! I am missing my flight.

Then the Volaris ground crew reappear. They've checked everyone; now they are pulling passengers from the queue to speed them through security. The flight is late! Rapido! Rapido! Unprepared for security I scramble everything into the screening bin but my belt, so I keep setting off the scanner when I am told repeatedly to walk through it. Dumping more out of my pockets—paper money, wallet, passport—until we finally realise it's my belt. I clear it, grab my carry-on and sprint to the gate... but I've left my wallet and money and passport back at the scanner. Gah!

So, finally aboard, I next need to concern myself with my backpack that is being offloaded at Mexico City. The flight has been delayed. How am I going to make my connecting flight, let alone retrieve and recheck my own luggage?

Talking to the air crew I learn that my connecting flight is the very same plane with the same crew. We are delayed, yes, but all I need do is disembark, "transfer" and get back on. I'm already checked in. Great! But my luggage?

I'm told to speak to Customer Service as I get off the plane. I explain to one of the ground crew and am understood, but my Spanish is insufficient for me to fully understand the response. No entiendo, I say, so out comes Google Translate on her phone. In writing, the Volaris crew member tells me:

"I will collect your luggage for you."

This, readers, I advise you, is a bald-faced lie. Like the ground crew in Oaxaca, she is only concerned with getting the plane in the air.

When once flying Turkish Airlines, I found myself in a similar situation, transiting at Sarajevo. I was assured by a crew member from whom I sought help at the transfer counter that he would personally collect and check my luggage for my second flight. I was very impressed with that offer of service until I touched down at my destination empty-handed. When I reported my lost luggage and explained what the crew member had said, the staff member told me—with no surprise registering on her face whatsoever—"Don't believe them."

Am I to believe this Volaris "Customer Service"? I repeat to her: "YOU will collect my luggage for me?" Sí, she confirms. I am suspicious. I rush away to find the transfer desk and the fellow there waves me through quickly as the flight is boarding. The security queue is mercifully short (this is Mexico City's second airport, Santa Lucia). I find myself last to board and on the gangway I spy the Volaris crew member who assured me of her help. On my phone so it is crystal clear, I type and ask: "Did you check my luggage onto this flight?" Sí, she confirms.

And here I am in Cancun with no luggage.

Don't believe them.

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