As thousands of tourists were being airlifted out of Los Cabos after the Category 3 Hurricane Odile ravaged the Mexican resort destination, tour operators scrambled to take care of their customers.
Los Cabos International Airport remained closed to commercial flights, and military and commercial planes were being used to fly travelers free of charge to other Mexican airports to find connecting flights, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities put the number of tourists who were stranded in hotels and in other buildings used as shelters at about 30,000, AP said.
Bringing customers home
Travel wholesalers were working with the Mexican government to evacuate their customers. “We have 95 people in Los Cabos who are trying to get home,” Jack Richards, president of Pleasant Holidays, told Travel Market Report.
Although there was no word on when the Los Cabos airport will re-open, Richards said it looked like it would remain closed at least through early October. Southwest Airlines’ website said the airport will be closed through Mon., Sept. 22, “to evaluate infrastructure damage from Hurricane Odile.”
Pleasant Holidays has hundreds of people who are scheduled to go to Los Cabos through the end of September. The firm will shift customers to other resort destinations through early October, Richards said. “The infrastructure and cosmetic fixes can’t be made any more quickly.”
Pleasant Holidays redirected one group that was scheduled to fly to Los Cabos on Sept. 15 to Cancun. “We’re trying to maintain the business” and give customers other options, he said.
“For those who can’t move, we’re a big enough company that all of the hotel and airlines partners will try to accommodate our customers. We will do our best to get those customers full waivers on change fees,” Richards said.
Airlines are cooperating, he added: “If they’re not operating flights, they can’t keep your money. They’re doing the very best they can to overcome very difficult circumstances.”
Other tour firms that sell Los Cabos have posted travel advisories on their websites, some with contact information for clients who are booked on Los Cabos trips within the next few weeks.
Travel Impressions’ website said the firm “continues to monitor all current storm activity for any travel locations affected by severe weather.”
Travel Impressions advised clients to check with individual airlines for flight status. Agents with clients whose flights were canceled or delayed, or who were in Los Cabos, were advised to contact Travel Impressions’ customer care or reservations departments.
‘Safe and secure’
Apple Vacations’ website said that all of its customers in Los Cabos were “safe and secure, either at their hotel or in emergency shelters, with supplied food and bottled water.”
“Apple Vacations will be making arrangements for the return of our clients as soon as possible,” its website said.
Apple Vacations was contacting all passengers scheduled to travel to Los Cabos through Sep. 20, offering to re-book their travel to the destination on a future date or book an alternate destination. The company is offering a discount of $50 per person for departures through Oct. 31.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Polo has formed off of southern Mexico.
According to AccuWeather.com, the storm was expected to strengthen and reach hurricane strength late Wednesday or Thursday.
“Polo is expected to remain on a general northwest track, parallel to the Mexico coastline through this weekend when it will make its closest approach to southern Baja California,” an AccuWeather meteorologist predicted.