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Airlines

Find Another Way Home: Airline Strands Hundreds of Passengers in Mexico

Find Another Way Home: Airline Strands Hundreds of Passengers in Mexico
Jeff Edwards

After a spring snowstorm grounded dozens of flights at MSP, Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airlines informed passengers stuck in Mexico that service will not resume until next season.

Delays and the occasional flight cancellation are part of air travel. There is certainly no sense getting upset about weather interfering with travel plans – it isn’t the airline’s fault after all. When unavoidable delays do occur, it is generally accepted that the carrier will eventually get passengers to their destinations as soon as it is safe to do so. An audacious decision by Sun Country Airlines following a freak April snowstorm at Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) this weekend, however, may have permanently changed the conventional wisdom on this subject.

Rather than re-accommodating passengers booked on canceled flights home from Mexican resort getaways, Sun Country Airlines instead simply refunded the airfare and told passengers vacationing in a foreign country that they were now on their own. According to Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO, the carrier informed hundreds of tourists stranded in Mexico that because the canceled flights to MSP were the last scheduled flights of the season, stranded flyers would be responsible for finding their own way back home on another airline.

“Due to the severe weather in Minneapolis, the airport has been closed and your flight has been canceled,” the airline told stranded Mazatlán International Airport (MZT) passengers in communications obtained by Thrifty Traveler. “These were our last flights for the season, so we do not have another flight to re-accommodate passengers on. You will receive a full refund. Flights will need to be purchased on another carrier. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

All told, it appears that nearly 250 Sun Country passengers on flights departing from Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) and MZT were forced to purchase expensive walkup fares on other airlines in order to make their way back to MSP. Passengers booked on canceled flights from airports where service was not scheduled to end for the season fared slightly better and were able to rebook on later flights with Sun Country.

“Our agents are working around the clock, some of whom stayed past their shifts to work overnight in the call center, to provide the best service possible to our passengers impacted by all this,” a Sun Country spokesperson told the City Pages. “The two most challenging recovery situations are definitely our Los Cabos and Mazatlán flights. As soon as we realized we would be unable to re-accommodate these passengers we let them know of the situation and gave them a full airfare refund to make alternative arrangements. For all other flights, we are re-accommodating passengers to get them safely on their way as soon as possible.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (13)

13 Comments

  1. Proudelitist

    April 16, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Well, they DID refund the money so the customers were made whole again.

  2. GadgetFreak

    April 16, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Wow. I can’t remember a US carrier pulling one like this before. I’m sure it’s happened. I just don’t remember it.

  3. jonsail

    April 16, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    That is a very rough way to treat customers. I assume some customers are facing a pretty big financial hit if they have to buy walk up fares.

  4. A Lyford

    April 16, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    Traveling internationally? Make your reservations with a credit card that has trip cancellation/interruption service along with no international or foreign financial exchange fees. It saved us a lot.

  5. Brendan

    April 16, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Sun Country should have to pay Change Fees to the passengers! Gee, if we change our minds & want to fly a day earlier or later on most airlines, they charge us–usually $200!

  6. diver858

    April 16, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    Travel insurance.

  7. htb

    April 16, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    That’s exactly why you need regulation like EU261.
    What kept Sunny Airlines to rebook on other carriers? Right: refunding the fare was cheaper.

  8. chrisboote

    April 17, 2018 at 5:03 am

    It’s amazing to me that US airlines are allowed to get away with such crap

    Even Lyin’Air couldn’t pull that one in the UK, or indeed anywhere into or out of Europe

  9. the storm fisherman

    April 17, 2018 at 5:50 am

    That is another airline i will be not traveling on at least in the uk we do have redress if something this happens

  10. kayun

    April 17, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Brutal but I wonder if the lease agreement between Sun and Transavia comes is causing this. Maybe it’s time for those planes to go back the Netherlands for Spring/Summer?

  11. jjmoore

    April 17, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Two simple words…. travel insurance.

  12. jjmoore

    April 17, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    EU261 would never apply for weather-related irrops.

  13. htb

    April 18, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    @jjmore: “EU261 would never apply for weather-related irrops.“

    Of course it does. Not necessarily the part about compensation, but the part about care. Which means the airline has to take care of you until they get you back home. Dumping passengers somewhere and wishing them good luck is not an option, unless the customer agrees.

    I’m only surprised they didn’t deduct the one-way fare before refunding…

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