LOS ANGELES - Rather than take off on a fantasy vacation, some travelers had their plans grounded when a number of Southwest Airlines flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Mexico were unexpectedly canceled due to government red tape.
Many of the ticketed passengers were not informed of the cancellations until they arrived at LAX.
Nina Ojeda and her fiance ultimately arrived in Sayulita, Mexico, for their friends' wedding. They had booked a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Puerta Vallarta, but Mexico has not yet approved the airline's new route.
"It's not a mechanical or weather error, which we would have understood. This was straight negligence on their part," said Ojeda said in Skype interview from Sayulita.
Southwest Airlines said it filed paperwork with Mexican authorities more than three months ago to begin service between LAX and Puerto Vallarta on Dec. 4.
In a statement, the airline said: "We published our flight schedule and began selling seats to Customers in accordance with terms of the agreement and Mexican and U.S. regulatory requirements. Because required paperwork still has not been issued by authorities in Mexico, we are now faced with unplanned challenges and forced to make proactive flight cancellations. "
In order to make it to the wedding, Ojeda and her fiance paid $1,000 for an Aeromexico flight -- with several stops.
"We traveled for 26 hours just to get here in time for the rehearsal and lost just an exuberant amount of money because we also had to stay overnight in Mexico City which cost $250," Ojeda recalled.
She said that about two dozen other wedding guests, who also booked Southwest flights from LAX to Puerto Vallarta, were also majorly inconvenienced, along with the bride and groom.
"Our best friends had to move around almost everything for their wedding to make sure that their friends and family could even be here the day that they get married," Ojeda said.
Southwest will refund the money spent by Ojeda and her fiance spent on the canceled flights, she said. The airline noted that its Mexico-bound service from airports other than LAX was not affected.
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