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Denied check-in on PAP-MIA-SXM, requested to purchase PAP-MIA//MIA-SXM
I will need some advice as whether any recourse is possible as per your experience and knowledge and what should be the best course of action.
Let me recount.
Auntie is a French passport holder with a US green card.
My Auntie had to visit Haiti for some business matters earlier this month.
Travel was on American Airlines and as follow:
SXM-MIA-PAP on the outbound
PAP-MIA-SXM on the inbound.
Each way required an overnight stay in Miami.
On the way out, she was given only a boarding pass for SXM-MIA and was informed she will have to retrieve bags and re-check the day after for the MIA-PAP portion of the outbound.
On a side note, she was a week short of the 6 months validity beyond arrival date rule, Haiti requires.
This rule was not checked at any moment by American airlines agents in SXM or MIA.
She was allowed to enter the country nonetheless but let not digress.
On the way back to St Maarten, journey was as follow:
PAP-MIA with an overnight in MIA
then the last leg MIA-SXM the day after.
The stopover in MIA granted enough time to Auntie to have a rapid antigen test for Covid done in order to request the travel authorization required by St Maarten Authorities. St Maarten government requires authorization be requested a maximum 12 hours before non-stop flight to St Maarten departs.
The contemptuous and aggressive local agents in PAP refused categorically to issue boarding pass for the PAP-MIA portion. They stated since the final destination (with a 24h stopover in MIA) was SXM, Auntie needed to have the Covid test result and the St Maarten GVT authorization ready at check-in in PAP.
They refused to check her in only for the PAP-MIA flight. They were adamant the system would not allow them to issue boarding pass only for this PAP-MIA flight. Even though bags would not be checked thru and needed to be retrieved.
Even if this was possible for the initial outbound a week before (SXM-MIA// MIA-PAP)
Supervisor, even more aggressively, backed her agents. The only solution they “offered” was to buy a new one-way ticket PAP-MIA (at the pricey amount of $615 USD, forfeiting the whole return leg of the initial ticket. And to buy another MIA-SXM ticket ($225 USD).
Yes, you read it right, they refused to check her in only for the PAP-MIA portion of the initial flight ticket. But then they were okay to do it now that Auntie purchased outright 2 new one-way tickets.
In your experience and as per your expertise, is there any recourse for auntie to recoup some if any of the additional and hefty cost?
Is it possible at least to have a refund of the initial and identical return flights?
Can she claim monetary compensation? is it better to request miles compensation?
Thank you so much for your valued expertise and opinions.
Happy new year!!
Hey Anderson, travel restrictions are so complex and constantly changing nowadays, that it’s not surprising to hear that American’s (most-likely) contract agents at an outstation in Haiti, were not fully aware of the requirements to enter St Maarten. Their ‘solution’ was probably the only thing they could do that eliminated risk on their end. Sell your aunt a ticket back to Miami, which they knew she was allowed to enter, then the separate St Maarten ticket, which an agent in Miami would be accountable for verifying entry requirements.
With that said, I would think if you write to American customer service, explaining what happened, they may offer your aunt a credit for the difference. I would reference the official entry requirements for all three (St Maarten, US, Haiti), explaining that your aunt was prepared with everything necessary. Ask for a credit for the difference between the original cost of the ticket and the $840. It’s best to be polite, and try to reference the facts as much as possible, leaving personal emotion out of it.
There are other outlets to contact at American to escalate your request if you don’t get the ideal outcome, but it’s necessary to first start with opening the initial customer service request. Good luck!
I work for an airline, and my company has the same policy. Upon check-in, you MUST meet all requirements for the final destination on your ticket. If not holding a negative covid test, even if the US does not require it, SXM does, you do not meet the requirements for travel. Your Auntie only had a connection in MIA. What if when she took the test there, and it came back as positive? That’s a liability issue on the Airline. So I completely understand why she was denied in PAP.
You should contact the airline, and see if they can give you a refund or travel voucher for the unused portion of the ticket. Just make sure when you call to stress that she was denied due to a covid restriction.
Apologies for my late response to all of your replies. I would like to thank you all for your answers. They were very informative. I command your knowledge and your abilities to explain it all clearly to someone novice like me. On behalf of my aunt, I really want to thank you all. Proud to be part of this community.