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Canceled LAX flights leave travelers stranded

August 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Scores of passengers are stranded after Mexicana Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection and canceled several daily flights from Los Angeles International Airport for the entire month of August.Mexicana is eliminating four of their 15 daily flights at LAX. The airline said it has serious financial problems and is considering bankruptcy. For some travelers, it means that tickets that have already been purchased may have to be rebooked.

More passengers fly out of LAX on Mexicana than any other foreign-based airline. Now, more than 25 percent of its flights from Los Angeles are being suspended, affecting travel to Mexico City, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.

The canceled flights created lines of stranded passengers at the Tom Bradley International Terminal on Tuesday, as they were unable to find space on the remaining Mexicana planes.

"We arrived about two and a half hours before the scheduled flight and realized that something was wrong when the line wasn't moving, and later realized that they had overbooked their flight by quite a few people. There were at least 60 families that didn't get on the plane," said Yvonne Espinoza, who was supposed to fly to Cabo San Lucas with her family on Monday.

"They're moving people from one flight to another or from one day to the next and then to the following day, and they don't give you credit for anything or compensate you in any way," said Rigo Ramos, a stranded passenger.

Ramos was finally given a seat on another Mexicano flight, but the Espinoza family was forced to book last-minute tickets on American Airlines at three times the price as their Mexicana fare.

When it comes to refunds, Mexicana isn't being very forthright. Customers said their efforts to contact the airline were met with busy or dead phone signals.

Sarah Jay and her friend said they just learned on Monday that their tickets to Cancun were gone.

"They sent me a thing that said your itinerary has been changed less than 48 hours before we were supposed to leave," said Jay.

Jay and her friend did manage to get seats on a later Mexicana flight, but they were also told that their return flight has been canceled.

Flights from other California cities are being suspended as well. The airline's parent company is struggling financially, saying that its pilots make 50 percent more than pilots for other Legacy Airlines in the U.S. Also, its flight attendants earn 32 percent more than other Legacy Airlines attendants.

The airline wants the pilots and flight attendants to make drastic pay and benefit concessions. They've even offered to sell the airline to the union for just 1 peso.

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration has downgraded the safety rating for all Mexican carriers, meaning that airlines like AeroMexico and Mexicana can no longer expand throughout the U.S. and they also can't offer code-sharing agreements with domestic carriers.

That means if you booked a flight to Mexico on American Airlines or Delta Air Lines, your flight could be affected and you may have to rebook some of those flights.

Customers are urged to check with airlines to see if any changes have been made.


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