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Please help interpreting language used by Airline

San Diego...
14 posts
Please help interpreting language used by Airline

I recently flew from San Francisco, California (SFO) to San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) with Copa Airlines. Routing was San Francisco to Panama City, change plane in Panama City to fly on to final destination of San Jose, Costa Rica in Economy Class.

Weeks before leaving the US to Costa Rica, I checked for Copa Airlines baggage allowance. My ticket or emailed receipt, nor the online reservation confirmation stated anything about allowed luggage, other than to refer to their website for said luggage allowance. So I did, studied their allowance page, and came to the conclusion, within my knowledge of English, that I am allowed 2 free pieces of luggage. After all, I was flying from "North America" into "Panama" and on to regions (Costa Rica?).

Quote:

Economy Class

Between Central America, North America* and the Caribbean (includes Guyana and excludes Panama) 1 FREE BAG

Economy Class

From/to Panama to all regions

Between South America to all regions (flights between North and South America, exclude Guyana) 2 FREE BAGS

I was told by both, the check-in person at the airport and his supervisor that I would have to pay for my second piece of luggage an amount of $40. I was explained by both clerks that since “Costa Rica” is my FINAL DESTINATION, I do not qualify for the 2 free bags allowance.

I had them both read as to what it said on the website, and their response was, that ‘ regardless of what it said on the website, that since my final destination was not Panama, I would have to pay for my second bag ‘ (which I did).

If you look at COPA’s baggage policy page, nowhere do they use the phrase FINAL DESTINATION. If the wording of FINAL DESTINATION would have been used on their baggage policy website page, it would have been crystal clear to me that I do not have a 2 free bag allowance. But it was not used, and some incredible confusing terms were used instead – IMHO 

Please let me know if you think the airline wording is correct (on the facts as stated by the airline, without me having to assume). THANK YOU

11 replies to this topic
Lancashire, United...
Destination Expert
for Playa Blanca
Level Contributor
42,100 posts
62 reviews
1. Re: Please help interpreting language used by Airline

Presumably it was all on one ticket then the luggage allowance is as per your destination.. Your flight was from North America (San Francisco) to the Caribbean (Costa Rica), not Panama. Why would you think it was as per a connection point?

I wander the world
Level Contributor
4,822 posts
25 reviews
2. Re: Please help interpreting language used by Airline

As far as I know Copa is based in Central America which mean English interpretations may not be their first priority. :0)

While I may have first interpreted this the same way you did upon further reflection and enforcement from Copa I would suggest that if one originates their journey or ends their journey in Panama one is given two bags free.

If one's journey does not either originate in Panama nor end in Panama then one is only allowed a single bag for free.

It seems an extraordinary crazy rule and one wonders why but there is airlines can do anything they like because after all we need them.

I very much look forward to other replies with possibly reasoning behind such an interesting rule. Perhaps it has something to do with Copas base of operations.

San Diego...
14 posts
3. Re: Please help interpreting language used by Airline

Costa Rica, just like it's neighboring countries Panama and Nicaragua are not considered by any of the Wiki or other information pages listed as part of the Caribbean. They are clearly considered being part of Central America.

British Columbia...
Destination Expert
for Regina
Level Contributor
5,519 posts
94 reviews
4. Re: Please help interpreting language used by Airline

Yes it is open to interpretation. A flight from North America to Central America includes one free bag. The fact that you connected in Panama is irrelevant, however their very brief sentence for Panama could certainly be interpreted as you had done.

A side note if you were flying on two separate tickets in and out of Panama with your origin and destination remaining the same you would have been allowed two included bags.

Edited: 15 November 2018, 18:09
San Diego...
14 posts
5. Re: Please help interpreting language used by Airline

I booked one flight, and I was issued 2 separate tickets. One from San Francisco to Panama, and the other from Panama to San Jose (Costa Rica). And if you consider Costa Rica as part of Central America, we (I) end up with the same question.

It is the wording used::

" From/to Panama to all regions " that as far as I am concerned is the issue of my request for clarification that I am asking for here on this platform.

Plus I would also like to mention "the fact" (?) that with its wording in the following phrase:

"Between Central America, North America and the Caribbean (includes Guyana and excludes Panama)", COPA makes it sound like that PANAMA is part of the Caribbean, which it is clearly not. Hot Caribbean weather yes.

I summarize:

_________________________________

Economy Class

Between Central America, North America* and the Caribbean (includes Guyana and excludes Panama)

1 FREE BAG

_________________________________

Economy Class

From/to Panama to all regions

Between South America to all regions (flights between North and South America, exclude Guyana)

2 FREE BAGS

____________________________

I do not question the charge for the 2nd bag, any airline is allowed their own rules. I question the language used by the airline on their baggage policy page !!! Why does the airline not use the wording FINAL DESTINATION on their website? Both counter agents were throwing that term at me when I questioned them as to why I had to pay for the second bag? I am out $80 because of COPA's willfully misleading wording. Why willfully? Because the term "final destination" is not foreign to COPA Airlines as both their employees I had to listed to used it.

Is COPA Airlines trying to mislead in order to look better when one does a price comparison? After all, United Airlines lists a much lower price on a comparable flight for this route. I chose to fly with COPA, even so COPA's price was considerable more expensive at the time of my booking (by almost $100).

However, United Airlines charges $40 for each bag (2 bags @ $40 = $80 x 2 for round trip = $160), when calculated, that made the UA listed trip fare no longer an attractive price. I also considered that no frequent flier miles are issued when booking a United Airlines Economy Class ticket, plus there is no free food or free alcoholic drink service on United Airline (all available when flying with COPA). This made COPA, even so more expensive in its initial price offering, a much more viable solution than grumpy United Airlines. I did a thorough research before making the reservation.

Nashville, TN
Level Contributor
6,990 posts
10 reviews
6. Re: Please help interpreting language used by Airline

Look you want help interpreting legaleze, go pay a lawyer to help you. They write it, they can decode it.

I wander the world
Level Contributor
4,822 posts
25 reviews
7. Re: Please help interpreting language used by Airline

Make sure to tell your lawyer the airline is based in Central America. :0)

They don't use the word final destination in their wording of their online document because they don't. Perhaps after this mix-up they will.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
59,761 posts
149 reviews
8. Re: Please help interpreting language used by Airline

>>Between Central America, North America* and the Caribbean (includes Guyana and excludes Panama) 1 FREE BAG<<

You flew from North America (SFO) to Central America (SJC ) and you are entitled to 1 free bag.

End of Argument.

Good Bye

Edited: 15 November 2018, 21:19
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
729 posts
5 reviews
9. Re: Please help interpreting language used by Airline

What is meant by "booked one flight and I was issued 2 separate tickets" in OP's reply #5 needs to be clarified by the OP. Is it actually two separate tickets as stated by the OP or one ticket for an itinerary with connecting flights? Could the OP have meant issued two boarding passes, not 2 separate tickets? It could make a difference.

It's a slow night at the office...

Amsterdam, The...
Level Contributor
9,573 posts
52 reviews
10. Re: Please help interpreting language used by Airline

Sorry, on a single pnr ticket it's pretty clear that when an airline has varied allowances per destination that your luggage allowance is determined by your final destination and not your transit point. Don't be silly.

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