I truly fell in love with Sun Country Airlines after my trip from Los Angeles to Minneapolis last year. But news out of Mexico illustrates why I predict this airline will not survive.
That sounds draconian, doesn’t it? Certainly the issue is more than one customer service mishap. But this issue vividly demonstrates the change in values at Sun Country, an airline that has survived on the basis of its “hometown” charm and now lost it. Here’s what happened:
Sun Country serves Mazatlan and Los Cabos, both destinations in Mexico, on a seasonal basis. Although the winter season has come to a close, a fierce storm hit Minneapolis last weekend. That led to several flight cancellations, including to these two resort destinations on the last day of service.
Because of Sun Country’s small fleet and aircraft utilization needs, the cancelled flights were not rescheduled. Since it was the end of the season, passengers were told they were on their own in finding a way home.
Many complained. Most could not even reach Sun Country. No staff were at airport counters in Mexico. Telephone lines were so jammed that most passengers received a pre-recorded “please call back later” message.
Sun County’s response? A short, vapid response.
Flights will need to be purchased on another carrier. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Flawed Logic: We Can’t Help Because it Would Hurt Others
Sun Country claims it could not help the stranded passengers because re-allocating an aircraft would cause a ripple effect creating even more delays and cancellations.
Sun Country spokeswoman said:
As disruptive as the current situation is for the affected passengers, the alternative — canceling other flights to other destinations — would have been more disruptive to even more passengers.
And of course she is right.
BUT THAT WASN’T THE ONLY SOLUTION!
It’s not like Los Cabos is only served by Sun Country. In fact, it is served by all the majors in the USA and Mexico. It’s true that Sun Country has no interline baggage agreement with these carriers, but they could have bought tickets on any of these airlines just like the passengers ultimately had to do.
I find it morally reprehensible that an airline would just leave passengers behind. Imagine the senior citizens or families with children stuck at a resort in a foreign country, forced to find options to get home on their own, likely at a higher price with extra connections.
This story in the Star Tribune is rife with such stories.
Like Lucky, I believe this issue demonstrates why the USA needs consumer protections like EU261 in Europe.
Even for those who favor more limited government intrusion into the free market, ask yourself this: should a customer really be told to 1.) fight Sun Country in court and 2.) this is how the “markets work” when stranded without any viable options in Mexico?
If you wonder why I fight airlines over so-called mistake fares: this is why. It is absurd to me that an airline can cancel a flight virtually without penalty. Had the shoe been on the other foot, no passenger would have been offered the chance to cancel a non-refundable ticket because they felt like it.
> Read More: Can Sun Country Airlines Survive? I Doubt It.
> Read More: Sun Country First Class Los Angeles to Minneapolis
imge: Aero Icarus / Wikimedia Commons