Today is an historic day. For the first time in years, Alitalia is no longer the worst airline ever. Mexicana’s slow and painful demise has caused so many problems for so many people that the airline has won its place as the new worst airline ever. I know, you’ll need a moment to take it all in.
If you haven’t been following the south-of-the-border saga, you can start with my earlier post from a couple weeks ago. In short, Mexicana is trying to play a shell game. There are three airlines under the Mexicana name. Mexicana Click is the low cost carrier that flies domestically. Mexicana Link buzzes around with 50 seat regional jets. And then there’s Compañía Mexicana de Aviación.
Compañía Mexicana de Aviación is the original Mexicana and because of that, it has a lot of baggage. The labor costs are very high and the debt is stifling, so the airline filed for bankruptcy. What’s the solution? It appears to be that the goal is to crush labor and wipe the debt from the existing company and transfer everything to the lower cost Mexicana Click. That airline will then come out of the ashes as the new Mexicana. At least, that’s how it looks to me.
That’s all fairly shady in its own right, but it’s what’s happened since the bankruptcy filing that has rocketed the airline into the stratosphere of suck. Mexicana has been trying to set up Click from an IT perspective so that it can handle many of the same functions that Mexicana handles today. It’s taking a long time. In the meantime, the airline has actually stopped taking bookings but continues to fly. Yep, that’s right. Airplanes are flying but no new bookings are coming in.
That is insane in its own right, but it causes additional problems as well. Mexicana has already had some aircraft repossessed, expects to return 40% of its fleet to lessors, and hasn’t been running a full schedule. Originally, the affected flights were canceled through August, but now they are canceled “until new notice.” What the heck? This includes flights to London, Madrid, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, San José (Costa Rica), Caracas, Bogotá, Montreal, Vancouver, San Antonio, Chicago and Fresno. This is where it gets absolutely insane. Though flights are canceled until new notice, they aren’t actually canceled yet. They’re sitting in limbo and that means passengers are in a terrible place.
I’ll give you the example of a Cranky Concierge client whose parents are taking their lifelong dream trip to Spain in September. They are booked on Mexicana and would like to change, but Mexicana hasn’t officially canceled the flights yet.
What’s the upshot here? Mexicana says that it will not issue a refund because the flights haven’t really been canceled, and they won’t put passengers on another airline for the same reason. They say that they will only put passengers on another airline within 7 days of travel. Could that be any more maddening?
If the airline would just admit that it doesn’t have the planes to fly this route and canceled further in the advance, then it would give the passengers time to find alternates. But saying that passengers will only be reaccommodated within a week means there will be very few if any options available.
If you’re booked on Mexicana, this is like watching a train come at you in slow motion and you can’t move out of the way. You know your flight will be canceled, but there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it because the airline is holding your money hostage.
Sure, you can buy a new ticket, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back for the old one. If Mexicana does miraculously fly those flights, you’ll be out of luck. And you can’t dispute it with your credit card until the flight has canceled. It’s a no-win situation for passengers.
This kind of behavior from an airline is just like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Forget about being held hostage on the airplane. We need regulation preventing an airline from keeping your money and your travel plans hostage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such blatant disregard for customers on a broad scale like this before. And unlike Alitalia, I’ve actually flown this airline and had an absolutely horrendous experience that simply adds to the case.
That is why Mexicana is the worst airline in the world. Even if the announced sale of the airline is actually true, there’s a lot of work to be done to get the airline out of this pit. I know Italians are cheering everywhere that their airline has climbed out of the cellar. But just remember, if Mexicana goes under, the title reverts back to you. So don’t get too cocky, Alitalia.