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The CUN-MIA-LHR Duty Free-Induced Misconnect

The CUN-MIA-LHR Duty Free-Induced Misconnect

Old Jun 28, 17, 8:39 am
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The CUN-MIA-LHR Duty Free-Induced Misconnect

Hello. I had an interesting journey back from tour last week, so I thought I'd share a mini TR to see if you lot think I made the right play.

My original ticket was AMS-LCY-JFK-LIM/CUN-MIA-LHR/LGW-AMS. Upon arriving for CUN-MIA, I checked in my guitar and two suitcases, then did what any sane person would do, and took advantage of the excellent offers on duty free tequila there. Afterwards, while enjoying a terribly overpriced drink in the international terminal's Air Margaritaville (there being no OW lounge at CUN), I noticed that my first flight (AA1285) was running late. Gradually, my 2.5hr connection at MIA eroded to about an hour. AA gate agents recommended that I keep the booking as ticketed and see what the state of play is when I arrive at MIA. I called the BA Gold line, who very quickly recommended moving from AA38 MIA-LHR to BA208 MIA-LHR, an hour later. I was hesitant to give up a very comfortable AA J seat for the redeye in favour of an unrefurbished BA 747, so I didn't make the change.

Having flown this route a few times in the last year, I've always been required to collect my bags at MIA and take them through customs, even when only transferring. I'd planned to stow my duty free in them at this point, before proceeding to the AA lounge, but given the tight connection, it would be difficult. However, for the first time, this was not a requirement, which meant I was able to move very quickly towards the gate for AA38. However, there was no way to get from my plane arriving from CUN to my next flight to LHR without passing through security, who claimed the duty free wasn't properly packaged for onward travel, and that I'd have to check it. And if I checked it, I'd miss my plane.

The look on the face of the TSA agent when I told her that I'd rather miss my flight than surrender the tequila was quite something. I was then escorted to some nearby AA desks. The manager at the transfer desk took a look at my boarding pass, then his watch, then my bag, and told me it was ten minutes too late to get it to the plane, and that I'd have to abandon the duty free. I told him that it was only too late to check in because his company's plane had delayed me coming in from CUN. A fairly animated discussion ensued whereupon he claimed that the two problems - the delayed Cancun flight, and me being unable to get the tequila onto the plane - were unrelated. I realised that I was being given the option of either missing my flight or abandoning some of my possessions, which I didn't really appreciate. After a brief explanation of cause and effect, and that neither of the issues were of my manufacture, he proposed to rebook me on another flight tomorrow. I informed him that there was a BA flight leaving an hour later, and he countered that there probably wouldn't be room in J for me. Another animated discussion followed which ended with me explaining that I knew that the type of availability required wasn't the same as what was on sale publicly, and yes there was availability on this particular flight. That was a good one.

That's when I mentioned that if he bumped me from the flight, he'd also have to pull my three items of luggage from it too, which given the time, would mean delaying that plane. Probably by just enough to get my bag of tequila on board anyway.

Another priceless expression, but he didn't like being cornered by logic in such a way, and called dispatch to have my bags recovered from the hold. I was reticketed onto BA208, checked in at the BA desks (which that American AAgent tried to send me in the wrong direction to...), popped up to the lounge to check that my luggage was being transferred to the new flight, and actually wound up sitting in 62B, which wasn't bad.

Upon arriving at LHR T3, I collected the duty free bag from the carousel, then went directly to the baggage desk, where, without a blink, they handed me a delayed baggage form and told me that both suitcases and my guitar were still in Miami. I was heading straight up to Newcastle, so wound up having to buy clothes and toiletries in T5. The temptation was to do my shopping at Burberry, but I settled for Reiss. My suitcases eventually made it to my flat, three outfits later.

It's all a bit of a storm in a teacup, in hindsight, as it all ended up fine (although I feel I might have slept much better in the AA J seat than I did perched on the aisle on the upper deck). If I hadn't need to be in the North the next day, I'd have gladly accepted a bump to a flight the next day, and a free night in Miami, and whatever EC261 compensation that would have materialised. The fact that there happened to be another OW flight just an hour later was a stroke of luck, as otherwise I'd have had to let a couple hundred dollars worth of perfectly good booze disappear. What do you think?
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Old Jun 28, 17, 8:45 am
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Originally Posted by armouredant View Post
If I hadn't need to be in the North the next day, I'd have gladly accepted a bump to a flight the next day, and a free night in Miami, and whatever EC261 compensation that would have materialised. The fact that there happened to be another OW flight just an hour later was a stroke of luck, as otherwise I'd have had to let a couple hundred dollars worth of perfectly good booze disappear. What do you think?
Just a note you wouldn't have been due any EC261 compensation for this journey as EC261 only applies to AA when flying from the EU not to the EU. So if this were to happen again, I wouldn't factor in compensation as part of your risk calculation.
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Old Jun 28, 17, 10:32 am
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I would have said it seems a bit daft to miss your original and more comfortable flight for the sake of a bottle of tequila, until I saw your reference to "a couple hundred dollars worth of perfectly good booze". Was it just one bottle (and if so, what brand sells for $200)?
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Old Jun 28, 17, 10:33 am
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Also tip when you buy duty free in Mexico or Caribbean ensure that they pack it into tamper proof sealed bags, last couple times they tried to pack it into a normal bag and then zip tie it .. that doesn't fly if you have to go through security. But usual when you ask for the tamper proof sealed bags, they do have them.

Last AA flight from Caribbean they were even making announcements about putting your duty free into checked luggage before re-entering security. Same announcement by TSA. But I had no problems going through with the correct bags.
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Old Jun 28, 17, 10:34 am
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Originally Posted by Gshumway View Post
Also tip when you buy duty free in Mexico or Caribbean ensure that they pack it into tamper proof sealed bags, last couple times they tried to pack it into a normal bag and then zip tie it .. that doesn't fly if you have to go through security. But usual when you ask for the tamper proof sealed bags, they do have them.
Trust me, this is a lesson that I have already learned
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Old Jun 28, 17, 10:39 am
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Originally Posted by Rexy52 View Post
I would have said it seems a bit daft to miss your original and more comfortable flight for the sake of a bottle of tequila, until I saw your reference to "a couple hundred dollars worth of perfectly good booze". Was it just one bottle (and if so, what brand sells for $200)?
Well, Herradura Seleccion Suprema retails in the UK for 250, and CUN duty free had it for ~160, but I opted for a few bottles of Herradura Ultra which worked out about the same price. Fortunately, they JUST fit into my laptop bag (and my laptop into my gig bag...).
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Old Jun 28, 17, 4:07 pm
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Interesting I am on the 1285 connecting to the 38 next week and having done the other way a couple of days ago I am a little concerned. I was please rly surprised to ITI my bags to Cancun and told I can do it on the way back. Might see if I can sme day change my AA flight to the earlier departure at 1250.
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Old Jun 29, 17, 1:53 am
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Originally Posted by KeaneJohn View Post
Interesting I am on the 1285 connecting to the 38 next week and having done the other way a couple of days ago I am a little concerned. I was please rly surprised to ITI my bags to Cancun and told I can do it on the way back. Might see if I can sme day change my AA flight to the earlier departure at 1250.
I'd give the 12:50 a go; better to spend the time in the vast lounge at MIA than the crowded gate area at CUN
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Old Jun 29, 17, 2:03 am
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Having read this a couple of times, I take a step back and ask myself this - is it really worth all this hassle for 2 bottles of tequila? I appreciate this particular brand is not readily available in the UK (or even Spain).

However the US rules on STEBs are the same as the UK, give or take, so tip or no tip, just ensure they follow the simple process of sealing the approved bag and making sure the receipt is visible and dated. What may have helped in this situation is declining ITI, if missing the aircraft was more important than 2 bottles of tequila. They are supposed to give you the option.

And yes, no EC261 applies on this trip, AA isn't even obliged to pay for your hotel in this situation, and almost certainly would not have done so.
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Old Jun 29, 17, 4:31 pm
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Originally Posted by armouredant View Post
I'd give the 12:50 a go; better to spend the time in the vast lounge at MIA than the crowded gate area at CUN
BA won't allow me to change as my fare is non refundable / non changeable might see if I can get same day flight change at online check in.
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Old Jun 29, 17, 4:32 pm
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
Having read this a couple of times, I take a step back and ask myself this - is it really worth all this hassle for 2 bottles of tequila? I appreciate this particular brand is not readily available in the UK (or even Spain).

However the US rules on STEBs are the same as the UK, give or take, so tip or no tip, just ensure they follow the simple process of sealing the approved bag and making sure the receipt is visible and dated. What may have helped in this situation is declining ITI, if missing the aircraft was more important than 2 bottles of tequila. They are supposed to give you the option.

And yes, no EC261 applies on this trip, AA isn't even obliged to pay for your hotel in this situation, and almost certainly would not have done so.

Does EC261 not cover if you are booked on the BA1529 operated by American Airlines in a BA 125 ticket.
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Old Jun 29, 17, 5:21 pm
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Originally Posted by KeaneJohn View Post
Does EC261 not cover if you are booked on the BA1529 operated by American Airlines in a BA 125 ticket.
No it wouldn't. Metal counts, not marketing. So the only AA services that gets EC261 cover are those departing from Europe. No AA services to Europe are covered, and that includes anyone on a 125 ticket and/or marketing under a BA flight number. The Regulations talk about the "operating carrier" throughout, which takes away any leeway relating to ticketing, marketing or codeshare.
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Old Sep 15, 17, 5:16 am
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I'm surprised no one has suggested this, but OP could have just drunk the bottle of tequila
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Old Sep 15, 17, 5:37 am
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Originally Posted by ChampagneSocialist View Post
I'm surprised no one has suggested this, but OP could have just drunk the bottle of tequila
The OP bought 'a few' bottles, not one.

I wouldn't have liked to be in the same cabin onboard with somebody who'd knocked back 'a few' bottles of tequila in five minutes flat.
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Old Sep 15, 17, 5:58 am
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I'd already spent two hours delayed waiting at CUN's Air Margaritaville, so drinking more tequila wasn't much of an option...
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