Buying Tickets on Argentina’s Internal Flights – the Keyword is PatienceApr 9, 2007 9 Comments Print
As an American, buying airline tickets for Argentina’s internal flights is more complicated than we are used to in the “customer comes first” culture of the United States. There are a few snags along the way that you should know about ahead of time, and I’m here to let you know about them.
Now, this post might sound like it belongs on Travel Rants, but I just want to get you in the right mindset before embarking on this process. First off, you should know that many of the multiple-airline search websites do not include flights originating outside the US, so skip them. Secondly, the websites that do include internationally-originating flights usually quote higher prices than the airlines’ websites themselves, so skip them too. The bottom line is, search the South American airline websites directly.
For example, I recently planned a trip for two from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. After much searching, I concluded that the cheapest option was to buy the tickets directly from Aerolines Argentinas. So I filled out the necessary email, name, passport number, and so on, and to my surprise I was not allowed to pay online. No one is – there simply isn’t an online payment option (also true for other South American airlines).
Instead I got an email saying that my flight would be held for 24 hours at the quoted price and that I should call during business hours to speak to a representative and complete the purchase (it was late on Sunday). Frustrated and tired, I wrote myself a note to handle it in the morning and went to bed. A little complicated but the end seemed near.
Monday morning I called Aerolineas Argentinas, followed the prompts to the English message (in a disturbing accent), and when I was about to connect to an operator, I was disconnected. Greeeeeaaat. So I tried again. And again. And again. I tried the English options. I tried the Spanish options. No luck, I kept being disconected at the same stage. I worried that my 24-hour window was not going to last until eventually I got connected and was able to make my payment (woohoo!), thankfully at the quoted price. When I explained the issues I’d had, the answer was basically “yeah… so what?” Oh well, I guess it was the American-ness in me that was upset at the inconvenience.
The crisis averted, we embarked on the trip to Calafate last weekend, though we had to deal with (an apparently common) two hour delay on the way there and on the way back. So what can you take away from this? Give yourself enough time to plan the trip and to embark on it, and above all, keep an open mind and be patient. With a little patience, even an American like me can figure out how to buy an internal flight tickets down here in laid-back Argentina.