Q COSTA RICA – We’ve all fallen into a ‘deal to real to believe’. That was the case of a group of Costa Rican soccer fans who at the gates of the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) airport, ready to board, were told, the deal was off.
They were the lucky ones.
It was Wednesday morning, around 5:30am, when the illusion of this group of 60 Costa Ricans to be in Mexico to see the ‘Sele’ – national soccer team – play in the World Cup qualifying with Mexico quickly turned to a nightmare.
The group had paid Continental Travel, based in Grecia, US$1,024 dollars (¢575,000 colones) for a couple. It was an unbelievable price, basically a 2 for 1 that included airfare, transfers, lodging, breakfast and entrance to the stadium for the Friday night game.
A few steps from boarding they were told that the airline had not been paid by the travel agency. A representative of the Continental Travel told the group, now stranded, that the payment to the airline would be happening in 20 minutes.
But it never happened.
On Thursday, the travel agency doors were closed. Witnesses say they had been closed since the day before.
For another group who had purchased the same travel package, their travel problems began the night before at the airline counter, at the San Jose airport, when they learned that the airport tax, which they had been told was included in the price of the ticket, was not.
The problems continued with delays with the flight, after more than fours hours of waiting they were able to fly out of Costa Rica, which as it turns out, was the best part of their story of a dream trip that quickly fell apart once they reached Mexico.
The group had arrived at the Toluca airport. They had to endure a six-hour bus ride to Mexico City, where, they had to get off the bus, with luggage in hand, to wait now for another bus that took them close to their hotel, leaving them to walk the last kilometre.
By now it was Wednesday morning. Tired and hungry they learned that the breakfast was not included, having to fork out (no pun intended) an additional US$100 for the meals, some of the passengers reported.
Many had also now begun to really worry. The reason they were on this trip was for the game on Friday and given everything so far, there was still uncertainty they would be able to attend.
On Thursday afternoon they finally got the promised tickets.
Back in Costa Rica, the group that could not fly have vowed to file complaints against the travel agency.
A report by Telenoticias says the travel agency is not registered with the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) or Tourism Board.
An ICT spokesperson explained that they will have to file a complaint with the Ministry of the Economy.
The moral of the story is always be careful when buying ‘a deal’. Do your due diligence, don’t get hooked by the low price.