Copa Rant

Discussion in 'Other Airlines | South America' started by KenInEscazu, Sep 3, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    I usually enjoy Copa Airlines, and I fly them often. At this point in time, however, they have me spitting nails.

    I have had three very legitimate complaints about which I have written to their CS department this year. I have flown them for years, but this year their service seems to have taken a dive. The biggest complaint, however, is not the events that led to my complaints, but their total failure to respond with even a "We're Sorry" email.

    Having struck out three times with trying to get the issues resolved through their online contact channels, I wrote an email to their CEO. My email outlined the complaints, but focused on their failure to reply to them. It has been over a week now since I wrote to him, and it appears that the non-response policy is trickled down straight from the top. I haven't heard a word in reply to my well written (if I do say so myself) outline of the events and the need to reply to customers to keep them from feeling insulted.

    I have opted for Taca on several new bookings this week, and will continue to do so until and unless they prove to be equally inattentive should a problem arise. Thank goodness we now have them as an option within *A, as Copa had been the only choice within many of my normal itinerary destinations.
     
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  2. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    Update: I wrote to CEO Pedro Heilbron again after a month had passed without a reply, and I got a very quick, personal reply. He claims to have missed my first email, and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I know how many emails I receive each day, and my company is much smaller than Copa Airlines.

    His reply was very cordial and professional, and I replied with a thank you. He responded AGAIN with a note thanking me for understanding, then I got an email from a CS manager three days later with a multiple choice offer of compensation for my inconveniences. I opted for 5000 MileagePlus miles, which they say will be credited to my account within 6 weeks.

    Although I remain of the opinion that I shouldn't have needed to write to the CEO for the issues I experienced, I must give him kudos for taking care of it in the end. I flew them this weekend and got upgrades as a perk of my status on all 4 segments (I was Platinum, but achieved 1K status with this trip). They really do offer a great Clase Ejecutiva menu. The service was stellar, all flights departed right on time and arrived early and I am once again a happy customer.
     
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  3. iterfacio12

    iterfacio12 Silver Member

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    Good to hear that some airlines own up to their failures; I'm glad things turned out well for you.
     
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  4. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    Update: Didn't get my miles in the promised 6 week period. After 7 weeks, I wrote a nice follow-up email to the CSA who was handling (or not handling) the comp miles. No reply.

    On Monday of week 8, I wrote again. No reply. So I wrote every day for a week. No reply. On Monday, I wrote yet again, and I asked that she please handle this, as I didn't want to have to waste Mr. Heilbron's time with this again. The miles were credited within an hour, and I got an email with a screenshot of the mileage entry. It showed the date started and the date finished. Both were the same day I sent that last email. She had done nothing until I threatened to write to her boss again.

    Threatening is really not my style. I still think the CEO is genuine in his desire to improve things, but he sure doesn't seem to have much to work with in the human resources they currently have. I can sympathize, as I run a company in Latin America, and it is often hard to fire people - even for cause - without it costing an arm and a leg. Knowing that doesn't make it any less inconvenient to have to deal with them.

    The real shame is that I love Copa as long as things don't go wrong. They rarely do, but when they screw up they REALLY screw up. I'll fly them again, but not with the complete confidence I had prior to this year.
     
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  5. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Agreed. I usually like CM - they are consistent, you know what to expect and their food/drink is better than PMCO/UAs. They serve some great destinations in Lat Am. Comp UG for UA Premiers on long sectors is very welcome and the PC in PTY isn't bad.

    But as you say, if things go downhill, it can be a challenge to regain a semblance of recovery.

    Also, their schedule to deep S.Am really sucks... 215am arrivals at places like EZE and SCL.

    I didn't escalate to Pedro but after a recent CM itin I wrote in to CS and praised star FA Ana as well as ritually denouncing the lack of comfort in the pre-merger CO style 737s. They sent me a nice pen for Christmas.

    Several times on giant CM MR itins, I've had the same crew three consecutive sectors into PTY/MEX/PTY/LAX or PUJ. Last time, the commander saw me in 1B and said, "Ah, it's you again." Yes. Of course. Sharks inhabit the CM cabins.
     
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  6. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    The PMCO Clase Negocios cabins are OK for me, but I've never flown farther than PTY-JFK on CM. Most of my trips are between SJO and PTY, sometimes going on to Colombia.

    If you get lucky and can sit in their new F cabin, you'll be pleased. Not a lay-flat by any means, but very spacious and comfortable. I haven't tried the IFE, but it's built-in to the center arm rests. That's a first for CM.

    I have to disagree about the club at PTY, however. They recently told me that it is soon to be renovated. It's really pretty nasty in some of the lounge chairs, and the tables are anything but comfortable. The elevator only works about 1/3 of the time, so lugging my carry-ons up and down the stairs is a drag, and it is always crowded. I'm hoping that there is some space in the new concourse set aside for a new club, or maybe they can gain more space from that recent addition resulting in something else being moved. They (we) need it.

    Nice to see another FF who frequents Latin America on this board. I live in San Jose, and must say that the lifestyle has spoiled me. UA is opening up SJO-ORD in April, and I think I read that they are also beginning SJO-DEN soon. That should make the SJO-IAH flights a little easier on the UG, as they simply ended with the merger, even though I was 100% on CO prior to that time - even when I was a mere Silver. It's now hard to get an UG even with an instrument. ::heavy sigh::
     
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  7. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    It's harder to get UG anywhere.... flying LAX-IAH-BWI on Sat and neither sector has cleared. Very few F seats showing available on the map and small numbers on KVS for F availability. FCM taking root....even on Sat!

    As for living in SJO, very cool. I'm sure more of us would like to do that. Heck I would have done CR instead of Japan if I'd known about it years ago. And CR has some genuine world-leading concepts (e.g. no army).
     
  8. Tad's Broiled Steaks

    Tad's Broiled Steaks Silver Member

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    Some folks denounce pens as not being a sufficient gift for airline loyalty, but dang are they convenient for those entry formalities... or, who can I speak with to always get a survey to fill out? That's the back-up plan.
     
  9. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    I'm not sure that not having an army is all it's cracked up to be. Security in general is lacking in CR. A little common sense, however, goes a long way. That doesn't guarantee your security (I've heard some horror stories and been part of one), but I don't run around in fear all the time. More like "acutely aware of my surroundings."

    Believe it or not, I feel much safer in Bogotá, Colombia. Spent a lot of time there last year, including walking alone with my then-girlfriend at night. We weren't in bad neighborhoods, but I would not walk alone with my girlfriend at night anywhere in Costa Rica. I would go out, but it would be in a car. If walking, I make sure I'm in a group of 10 or more.

    Everyone tells me that Medellin is the best city in Latin America to both work (self employed) and retire. I'm seriously considering moving my company there. Although I really like Bogotá, it's just too big and too cold. Medellin has a climate similar to San Jose, but without so much rain.

    As much as I love Costa Rica overall, the roads are just horrible, as are the drivers who use them. The pool of employees has been spoiled by the online casinos and sports books, so they require more money than do Colombians. Keeping employees is always my goal, but each year my liability grow, as their government-mandated severance is based on some formula based on their pay and their time on the job. Even firing them for cause doesn't release employers from this liability. In Colombia, each employee works on a one year contract, so although their is govt. mandated severance, it is not growing against me every year.

    On top of all that, the social medical system is also mandatory in CR. I can't opt-out and buy private health insurance for my employees. I can buy private, but I still have to pay for the social system, too. Not so in Colombia.

    On a positive note, the private health care in Costa Rica can be world class. I've received superior care in their three JCI certified hospitals. At 54 years of age, I pay $2400/year for a fabulous private plan with a $5000 deductible. That's one of the things that lured me here in the first place.

    The last time I checked, Colombia only has one JCI certified hospital, and that is in Bogotá. Not having one close by would lessen my sense of tranquility pretty significantly.

    There are so many things to consider when looking at relocating abroad. There is no perfect answer for all, otherwise everyone would be in the same place. I'm happy where I am, but concerned about continuing to grow my company with the known downside of depreciation that comes with more people gaining seniority with each passing day. Not sure what I'm going to do, but I plan to spend some time in Medellin this year to get a feel for what personal and business life might be like there.
     
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  10. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Very interesting. I don't live in CR or employ people in my biz, so I don't have your comparative perspective on management, or health care.

    I'm just a tourist in both places. I've spent a while in CR driving around - SJO and Poas, Heredia, to Arenal, to Jaco, to Limon, Turrialba and back to SJO. It seemed pleasant enough although rather more expensive than neighboring countries. And parts of SJO were rough. I hung out in a bar one night near the Best Western "Downtown" at Calle 6/Av 7 and ended up talking with Guatamalan enforcers hired by local security firms. I can easily imagine getting on the wrong side of these guys would be a bad idea. Fortunately, they had no investment in defending the integrity and value of the Delta SkyMiles program, so we didn't have a conflict :p

    I know no army doesn't mean no security risks on the street - otherwise, why would local companies be hiring Guatemalan enforcers - but it does mean less involvement in ego-driven state-sponsored idiocy with major consequences for everyone.

    I agree Colombia is much less of a problem than its outdated image presents. I've experienced no crime problems on my various visits there despite activities such as walking around Candelaria at night. The only place where I was apprehensive owing to the environment was in BAQ down by the river at night.

    Shark family were freaked out - before going for the first time - but now want to go back and see more.
     
  11. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    My visits have all been solo, but I was absolutely shocked. It is so different than SJO. I expected merely a larger version, and I could not have been more wrong.

    If I had it to do over again, I would probably have chosen Colombia over CR. Moving again, hoever, makes it more complicated. Moving is a disruption of life. Moving a business is a disruption of life. Moving both at the same time to a new country? It's simply huge. It may very well be worth it, however. Time will tell.

    As a tourist, you've got it made. You can visit both. That's something I look forward to if I move to Colombia, actually. Costa rica was my favorite vacation spot before moving. If I move to Medellin, I'll be able to vacation in CR again. Sounds kind of odd, but it's very different to be vacationing somewhere than to be living there.

    On a side note, the coolest thing of all is that I always thought that once I hit 50, my life would start to slow down. Less excitement. Less to look forward to. Fewer "new" experiences. I can honestly say that my 50s are now my favorite decade of my life. I no longer dread getting older, as I see plenty of people in their 60s and 70s enjoying life just as much as I do. What an incredibly pleasant surprise!
     
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