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Do not fly Aerosur

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My wife and I have been living in Bolivia for the past two years and have had such horrific experiences with the Bolivian airline Aerosur that I feel it is time to write something down and try to steer as many people away from using this airline as possible. In 2009 I traveled with them from Santa Cruz to Miami. After two days of cancellations and delays resulting from an electrical problem, they claimed the plane was fixed and we took off from Santa Cruz. An hour into the flight, the electrical system shorted out in the cabin, and we were forced to make an emergency landing in Cochabamba. Aerosur told us they had no other planes and weren’t sure when we would leave Bolivia, so I cancelled my reservation and booked with American Airlines, vowing to never fly Aerosur again.

However, my wife and I just traveled back to the States with two pets, and when we were pricing out tickets, the Aerosur fares were half of what we could find with other carriers, and they had much easier restrictions on traveling with pets, so reluctantly we booked with them. Upon arriving to the Cochabamba airport on Monday, we were told the flight was cancelled until Wednesday and they could not find us a hotel that would accept pets, so we would have to find a hotel on our own. After more than an hour of yelling at them, they agreed to put us up somewhere. The following day (Tuesday), we were told that the flight would be cancelled for an additional day, and we could fly from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz Thursday afternoon, connecting to Miami later that night. The following day (Wednesday), we were told the Miami flight had been moved forward, so we would have to arrive at the Cochabamba airport at 5AM on Thursday to have a 12+ hour layover in Santa Cruz. We were told we could get our pets during the layover so we could take them to a hotel that Aerosur had booked for us. Upon arriving in Santa Cruz, Aerosur could not locate our pets for over an hour, and when they were finally brought out it was obvious they had been left out in the heat. Upon arriving at the hotel that Aerosur had “booked”, there was no record of any reservation and the hotel was full. Luckily, our cab driver was super friendly and found us another place that we had to pay for. We did finally take off from Santa Cruz Thursday night after several additional hours of delays. We were due to land in Miami between 2-3 AM, and Aerosur assured us they had taken care of our connecting flight within the US, and there would be an agent waiting for us at the gate. When we landed in the middle of the night, there was no agent, and the US carrier had no record of any reservation made by Aerosur. We ended up paying for a hotel for 12 hours, paying for a last minute flight, and made it back home five days after we left Cochabamba.

I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT FLY AEROSUR. I have flown airlines all over the world, and quite a few within Bolivia, but I have never received worst customer service anywhere. Flight cancellations are quite common in Bolivia, and other airlines are willing to try to help with your plans. Aerosur will lie to you and tell you whatever you want to hear so that you will leave them alone and they will not have to deal with you. We dealt with every level of Aerosur employee from the check-in guy at the airport to the head of the central office in Cochabamba, and were either ignored, ridiculed, or lied to at every turn. For domestic travel within Bolivia, BOA is a perfectly decent alternative, and for international travel, American Airlines does cancel their flights too much, but they know how to do customer service. Although Aerosur may appear cheaper when you are pricing out a ticket, you will spend ten times that amount when you are hung out to dry and are trying to put your trip/life back together. Please share this advice with anyone travelling in South America, and definitely post any experiences you have had with this airline.

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