I was in Bogota Columbia and had just ordered my lunch at the Albahaca Restaurante, it was 1 PM Thursday, March 19th. While I was waiting for my food I took out my cell and opened the NY Times app which headlined the US government advised that all US Citizens should return home immediately or be prepared to stay where they were overseas indefinitely. Wow! Next, I called my friend Marc who works in the American consulate in Juarez Mexico and asked him what was happening and his only answer was for me to leave immediately for home.
My original return flight back to New York was on April 7 with American Airlines. When I called AA to re-book the flight I went right into a hold and when I tried their website it was not functioning. Chase Travel who booked a flight for me put me on indefinite hold also and was not much help either.
What am I supposed to do, wait?<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">It was at 2 PM when I searched for online return flights and bought a new ticket on the Copa Airlines website for a flight out a 9 PM that night. I quickly packed, I just threw everything in the suitcase, and grabbed a cab to the Bogota Airport, I made it to the airport by 3 PM, six hours later my flight left on time, the stopover was in Panama City, the next morning I flew to JFK; all the flights were uneventful.
It was smart to move that fast and I was very lucky to make it home before everything shut down. From my understanding, the Bogota airport closed Thursday, March 19th at midnight which was three hours after I departed. JFK closed March 20th.
My travel insurance company will not pay for anything, not the new return flight home, not for the Bogota rent that I paid in advance, nor the food I left in the refrigerator in Bogota, nada nothing. American Airlines told me yesterday April 18, 2020, that they will refund me 15 dollars for the canceled return flight from Bogota to Miami to JFK which originally cost over eight hundred dollars.
The point is that for 2 days I had to completely rely on myself with no support or assistance from any of the airlines, travel agents, backup or insurance systems I had in place. I paid through the nose for everything and when push comes to shove the people I engaged and who were supposed to look out or assist me did not answer the phone.<p class="has-text-align-center" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><strong>From the New York Times on March 19, 2020. Should I stay or should I go?</strong>
Note, eventually my return ticket on American Airlines was refunded to me.