Travel Complications, and the New Terminal #2 at Tocumen Airport
We were super fortunate on our trip. There are stories everywhere about problems with airline travel, but we took multiple flights with few problems. But our luck was bound to run out at some point. We got to the Dallas airport with plenty of time to make our flight to Houston, but the plane was delayed coming in. By the time we left we were 2 1/2 hours late and our flight to Panama had already left. So, we were stuck in Houston.
We waited at United customer service for an hour while the one lady there helped a large group ahead of us. Finally, 4 more employees arrived but unfortunately the one that helped us wasn’t experienced on how to rebook people. She got us on flights the next morning, but I had to insist and argue that she also rebook our flight from Panama City to David. With the protests going on and roads blocked, planes were filling up and I wasn’t about to take her advice and wait until we arrived in Panama City to take care of that. The more experienced lady stepped in and got us booked on the afternoon flight (the evening flight was full). They refused to give us hotel vouchers (thunderstorms, not the airline’s fault) but they did give us $30 each in food vouchers which was helpful.
HUGE shout out to our travel agent! I have a feeling she is busy enough, but I have to say it’s Andrea Cook. She takes very very good care of her people! Joel posted on Facebook that we were stuck in Houston, so when Andrea saw that she got on her computer to see what was going on with us. She discovered that the customer service people made a reservation on the afternoon flight, but they did not change the ticket from the previously booked morning flight to the afternoon one. This would have cost us a $250 change fee, each! She explained that you can change a ticket for around $30-35 (I forget exactly) but if you wait until the plane you were originally booked on departs, then you get the huge change fee (which is 2 1/2 times the cost of the original ticket. Go figure that one out.
Thankfully our flight out of Houston was perfectly on time because we had a very tight connection in Panama City, and I wasn’t familiar with how this works in the new Terminal #2. Our luggage also wasn’t checked through, so we had to deal with that.
We landed at Terminal #2, and hot footed it off the plane and to immigration (which was back in Terminal #1). No lines, thank goodness. We had to wait a little while for our luggage, and then we exited the area and asked for advice on getting back to terminal #2. There was a big white bus which took a somewhat scenic (ha!) route but landed us back at terminal #2. We probably could have walked faster but it was what it was. So, we go upstairs to check in and of course the kiosk doesn’t work for us (if they ever work it’s a big surprise). But, a nice man got us checked in and told us we will have to run “un poquito” (a little bit). Where? Waaaayyyy down there. Go downstairs, go outside, and turn left, and go to the very end of the terminal and there you’ll find domestic flights. We made it! We were the last ones on the plane but it was probably another 10-15 minutes before they closed the door. I was happy to message Andrea to tell her we were ok and she wouldn’t have to scramble to get us other tickets.
We made it home in the late afternoon instead of morning as planned, but we were home! I was happy we didn’t have to spend a night in Panama City and hope we could get seats on the early morning flight. Oh, but I forgot, it still wasn’t without complications. There was a bad thunderstorm in David so the plane had to circle around for maybe 1/2 hour hoping things would clear and they wouldn’t have to go back to Panama City. They eventually decided it was safe to land, but then we were stuck on the plan for quite a while more. They couldn’t open the door because it was raining so hard that water was gushing into the plane! But eventually the rain slowed, and we got off the plane and picked up our very wet luggage that had been unloaded earlier.
Our last concern – the car was parked at the airport all this time, but it started right up. We were able to back it out and avoid the jam at the front of the terminal. We only ran into one roadblock on the way home but there was an easy detour around it, so it wasn’t long before a very happy dog was greeting us at our front gate.
Roadblock? Yes, there have been protests and upheaval all over the country, but that’s a subject for another post coming soon.
It’s nice to be home. It was a great trip and we have so many happy memories, but it’s always nice to come home again.
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