What a fuck up. or When travelling goes
horribly wrong. (March 2015)

Now I am not normally superstitious, but our problems did start on Friday the 13th of March, 2015.

On our last full day in Cuba we had to move from our Casa Particular to a hotel because our agent hadn’t made the correct booking and had us leaving a day earlier than we should have.

Then, the next day, the taxi we had pre-booked to take us to the airport didn’t turn up and we had to get another one.

At the airport the time came and went for our Air Cubana flight from Santiago de Cuba to Havana. This turned into a 6 hour delay, causing us to miss our connecting flight to Mexico City.

When we finally boarded we found that the call button on the Air Cubana flight was just there for show, and didn’t actually work – I guess that summed up customer service on Air Cubana.

Getting to Mexico was crucial, as we had accommodation booked there for two nights and were then due to fly to Puerto Vallarta, on the coast, to meet Ev and Steph.

Once we realised our dilemma, we started to make enquiries as to how to sort it out. We were sent from office to office, but no one seemed to want to help.

Finally we tracked down the Air Cubana supervisor, who said he would sort it all out, but this was a total lie.

He then clocked off, confidently telling us that he had organised everything with the new supervisor. She had no idea what to do and then sent us to a desk, one that we had already visited, and again they couldn’t help.

The biggest issue we were facing was that our connecting flight to Mexico wasn’t with Air Cubana but with Aero Mexico and the Air Cubana staff didn’t see it as their problem.

Everything was compounded by the fact that another Air Cubana flight, this one to Paris, was cancelled. It was a Jumbo and full of very angry French tourists.

Clearly a couple of more laid-back Aussies could wait.

We had been up since 5am and apart from the seventy minute flight from Santiago de Cuba had been hanging around at airports – it was now 9pm.

At this point all we wanted to do was leave Cuba ASAP.

At about 10pm we were finally helped out by an Air Cubana staff member who, realising we were desperate, took us to the office of CopaAirlines.

There we discovered that the next morning there was a flight to Panama with a connecting one, an hour later, to Mexico City.

We tried to book it then but were told that couldn’t be done until 4am the next morning, as they were shutting up for the night.

We had no choice but to stay at the airport as it was now 11pm.

Still carting our luggage around we found some vacant seats and tried to get a few hours sleep.

Without anyone around to keep the airport warm the air conditioning reduced the temperature down into the low teens and we were forced to pull jumpers and coats from our packs.

At 4am we went off to buy our tickets. Earlier we had been told we could pay by Visa but were then told that we now needed cash.

This meant finding an ATM that would, firstly, accept our cards and secondly, cough up enough money to buy the tickets – tickets that we so desperately needed.

By 5:20am we had the tickets and had to rush to get the plane as the gates were closing at 5:30.

What a nightmare 24 hours.

There was something positive that came out of this experience – Copa Airlines. They are based in Panama and have good aircraft, great service and wonderful, friendly staff.

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