While Summer is fast approaching, the actual climate has not reflected the expected temperature of the seasons this year. Just this weekend, Minnesota has experienced a severe snowstorm, which resulted in the cancellation of all the flights scheduled on Saturday evening. There was a total of about 700 flights that were affected over the weekend.
The occurrence of a blizzard in April is, nonetheless, odd.
Unfortunately for some, this means that those who were scheduled to arrive at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport will not be able to do so. This includes two flights that are operated by Sun Country Airlines. They were scheduled to depart from Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlán, the popular resort cities in Mexico, and headed towards Minneapolis. From there on, the situation seems to be headed downhill. It just so happens that Sun Country has a very limited number of flights that correspond to those destinations during its “wintertime-only service”, as described by USA Today.
There were no alternative or later flights by Sun Country that were scheduled for Minneapolis. In conjunction with this issue, Sun Country Airlines has supposedly refused to be held accountable for the passengers’ whereabouts. This subsequently means that these passengers will be stranded in Mexico with no way out. According to KARE 11 TV of the Twin Cities, one of the affected travelers has communicated the following statement given by the airline.
“These were our last flights for the season, so we do not have another flight to re-accommodate passengers on. You will receive a full refund. Flights will need to be purchased on another carrier,”the airline publicly announces to the travelers.
Of course, anyone who has ever been in this situation knows that it is more preferable to get a seat on the desired flight than be reimbursed for our loss as time is of the essence.
This has caused an uproar amongst the affected individuals. Abby Pettit of Detroit Lakes has brought her discontentment towards Sun Country Airlines to WCCO-TVoperated by CBS.
“The fact that they felt it was OK to send an email telling everybody that ‘find your own way home, I guess to me that doesn’t seem right. Now to get the four of us home costs us more than our round-trip tickets to get down here.”
Another traveler, Ann Berglund of Woodbury who was left in Mazatlánhas also brought the issue to the media, KARE 11. She says that she has supposedly tried to reach the airlines’ customer service phone line 800 times and is constantly faced with a simple “all circuits are busy” recording.
Kelsey Dodson-Smith is the vice president of Sun Country Airlines’ marketing department. She has expressed the reasoning behind the abandonment of these passengers in an electronic mail to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
“As disruptive as the current situation is for the affected passengers, the alternative — canceling other flights to other destinations– would have been more disruptive to even more passengers.”
The airline has made a firm decisiontowards the issue and informed the passengers to find an alternative transportation. They proceeded to explain that if they were to reschedule, it would lead to a domino’s effect and ultimately affect the subsequent flights that were scheduled. They point to the lack of aircraft in their possession such that there simply isn’t enough aircraft to expend for a later flight.
Robert Mann, the former airline executive has conveyed his thoughts on the matter to Kristen Leigh Painter, a Star-Tribune reporter.
“They typically schedule to the maximum availability of aircraft and crew resources, with no spares or slack for irregular operations.”
Ultimately, it all comes down to the costs and profitability of the situation all around. Sun Country airlines provided a refund because it was a legal responsibility. It is not out of their own compassion. As suggested by Mann, the reason that the situation has ended up in this way is because of the packed schedule. By utilizing the resources to the maximum, Sun Country is attempting to maximize its aggregate revenue.
However, from this incident, it is apparent that things should not be done in this way in case of emergencies and unexpected turns of events. Regardless, one of the travel agent who was responsible for some of the passengers’ trip to Mexico has conveyed her opinions to the Star-Tribune– which basically sums up the point of infuriation.
“Weather is out of their control; how they’re handling the situation is IN their control. Send a plane, go get your passengers.”
This is just another example of the way humanity is fading in the face of profit.
Featured image via flickr/ PJ Nelson