“Whoever can save themselves”: they are Argentines, they go to the airport and find out there that they cannot take the plane

Ignacio Sanchez

The flight left for Argentina, but a group of 40 passengers was stranded at the airport, watching the plane take off without them on board. As they lined up to dispatch their suitcases and board, they were told that their flight from Madrid to Buenos Aires was leaving. They do not. There were no more places.

“We check that the flight is active and approved, they confirmed that it is. Quiet, we returned the rented car, we left the hotel, we packed our bags, we completed the affidavit, we did the PCR test, we went to the airport. When we got to the check-in counter they canceled our flight, but only for one group. They finger-hunted 40 people, left us in a band, literally stranded, “said Victor, an Argentine who traveled to Spain for work and has not been able to return to the country for a week. His companion is the general manager of the company. His wife and children are waiting for him in Argentina.

Victor’s case is no exception. Based on the new government regulations, the airlines had to reduce the number of passengers. According to a statement that the Chamber of Air Companies in Argentina (Jurca) released yesterday, despite the fact that on July 9 the number of flights increased, the occupancy capacity of the aircraft was further reduced. “Flights are approved, but the number of passengers that can board is limited to a smaller number than with the previous rule,” they said.

Another of those passengers was Walter, who traveled with his wife and two minor children to manage personal procedures. Despite having the ticket confirmed, they were informed at the airport that they were not traveling. “It is a lack of respect and feeling towards people. I understand that we are in a health emergency, but I do not understand why they cannot notify me before so at least one is organized. Here is the total uncertainty, you can not plan anything, “he said.

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The airlines’ phones are not enough. Passengers spend hours on a call waiting to be answered and to reschedule their trip. The dates they award are for the end of August and the beginning of September. “Call the line in English, they will attend you earlier and I got a better date”, those stranded in a WhatsApp group that put together people who are going through the same situation are advised.

For each rescheduled flight, passengers have to redo a PCR, which in Spain costs about 115 euros. At best, passengers had only two tentative travel dates. In the case of Verónica, an Argentine who lives in Spain and is trying to return to the country to settle after 16 years abroad, it has already been rescheduled four times.

“When I entered the airport and I found many Argentines crying, I said to myself ‘My God, the flight again,'” she said. Originally he had to travel on July 1, when the Government announced that the daily quota of passengers from abroad was reduced from 2000 people to only 600. Then they passed it to the 4, later for the next day, it was postponed again to the 13th and currently does not have a defined date.

“I came to work, not on vacation. My company is on fire because I have been here for a month and, apparently, I will continue at least one more month. I traveled in mid-June, you cannot change the rules of the game for me when I am no longer in a position to decide. They overwhelm your rights, they don’t let you plan. I’m still betting on the country because I like living in Argentina, I don’t want to go, but they end up kicking you out, ”said Victor.

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In Spain the stranded are spending between 70 and 100 euros per day, although, if they stay in a hostel, the value can drop to 40 euros. “There are people who came with just enough, they will be able to throw three, four more days, but after that they will have to go out to look for work or ask for loans, I do not know how they will manage,” they venture.

Who travels?

When the new flight restrictions began to take effect, ANAC sources explained to this newspaper that there was no established criterion about who could board a flight first to return to the country. The decision would go through the airlines, which are usually notified by consulates abroad in case of urgent cases or that require getting on flights for humanitarian reasons.

“The Argentine consulate in Spain makes you fill out a form that seems like a joke. On a sheet they take your claim, when we asked them how many Argentines were in the same situation as ours, they answered ‘we have no idea, but last year there were thousands’. This is a man for himself, they don’t give you answers ”, added Víctor.

Form delivered by the Argentine consulate in Madrid to the stranded who are going to claim for the return to the country.

Form delivered by the Argentine consulate in Madrid to the stranded who are going to claim for the return to the country.

According to the information that Latam sources provided to LA NACION -one of the few companies that responded to LA NACION’s inquiries-, the airline respects passengers who have a reservation on the approved flight and confirm that they will take said flight. In addition, according to the available quotas – imposed by the Argentine authorities -, the company “gives protection to passengers from past dates”, prioritizing according to needs.

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“We had checked-in at least 24 hours before, we had selected the seats. We learned about the flight cancellation in the baggage queue via email. Everything is very sad, it is the fourth time I have been canceled in flight with all that that entails ”, closed another of the passengers.

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