Cancun’s Cancelled Flights and the Other Joys of International Travel

This trip to Cancun had been as close to perfect as it could get. And the morning we were supposed to head home, I thought we were in the clear. Then everything went to hell in a handbasket. Naturally.

August 18, 2013

The next morning was supposed to be my and Sean’s last day in Cancun. We were on the last flight out of Cancun that afternoon at 3, so that morning we hurriedly packed and spent a little last-minute time at the pool before we headed to the airport. We got to the airport in plenty of time, headed through security, had a little lunch, and were all set to go home (upgraded to first class once again, thank you very much!), until the pilot came across the intercom said one small light monitoring an engine wasn’t coming on, and the part couldn’t get here until tomorrow… Last flight out cancelled for the day. Rescheduled flight time? 8:30 the next morning.

How perfect is this picture of the Cancun water? Photo courtesy of: Adam Jones-Kelley.

How perfect is this picture of the Cancun water? Photo courtesy of: Adam Jones-Kelley.

At this point people started whipping out their smartphones faster than you can say “Delta you suck!” Within a matter of probably thirty minutes, any later flights the following day were all completely booked and the rest of us were miserably emailing and calling work and loved ones saying, “Don’t wait up.”

Maybe it’s just me, but having your flight cancelled is close to the worst thing that can happen traveling short of your bags being lost and losing your passport or other important forms of identification and money. Especially when you’re planning to be back at work the next morning and actually have things to get done. And you’ve just lost most of your entire extra day in paradise at the airport being yanked around by Delta’s less than stellar customer service practices, made even more difficult by the fact that as soon as we got on the plane, Mexico considered us out of the country and therefore had to scramble to figure out how to re-admit the 200+ people who were suddenly very unable to leave the country for another night.

Another beautiful shot of Cancun. Photo courtesy of: David East.

Another beautiful shot of Cancun. Photo courtesy of: David East.

Since the reason we were grounded was Delta’s fault and not “an act of God or weather,” they had to put us up for the night. We were all given back our bags, shuttled over to a little Courtyard Marriott five minutes away, and given a buffet dinner that night, a bag breakfast the next morning and a $100 voucher for our trouble. $100 Delta?? Really? I was stranded in Chicago for similar problems and got three times more than that in credit for my pain! C’mon – at least refund the price our tickets to Cancun or something like that… Jeez. Cheapskates.

Sean and I made the best of the situation after exhausting all other options to get out of Cancun earlier (Delta.com, Delta on the phone, etc.), but after all attempts failed we knew neither one of us would be great company that night, and so declined a kind offer from our friends to join them for their final dinner back in town. I think at the point that the deadbolt in the door popped out of the frame (which had apparently rotted around it), I cracked and we both laughed until our sides hurt at the situation we found ourselves in. Stranded in Mexico in a Courtyard Marriott, when just hours before we’d been in a beautiful, luxury hotel right on the beach.

Before any sane person (especially on vacation) should be up, the next morning, we were back at the airport, large Starbucks lattes in hand, ready to get the hell home. Everything went smoothly this time around. Thank God.

By the time we touched down I thought my ordeal was over. Not quite yet. Sean had a special Global Entry sticker on his passport allowing him to bypass the normal Customs and Immigration line. I was still in the process of getting mine, but didn’t have it yet. He decided to use his fast pass, while I went through the regular line (it wasn’t long at that point), but when I handed over the Immigration form (which Sean had filled out in his name), the Immigration guy looked at me, asked where he was and when I explained threw up his hands and said, “I can’t do anything with this! You’re just gonna have to fill out a new one.” Fifteen minutes (and a family of six in front of me) later, I was through Immigration and finally, finally the trip was at an end.

Like I said at the beginning of this little saga, the trip was great in terms of company, hospitality, activities and weather, and it was certainly memorable for even more reasons. Overall though, I had a fantastic time and aside from Delta’s little screwup at the end, it couldn’t have been better. So who’s in for next year?

Cheers to a great vacation! Photo courtesy of: Dancin' Dirk.

Cheers to a great vacation! Photo courtesy of: Dancin’ Dirk.

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