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Thread: La Costena

  1. #1
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default La Costena

    For 3 hours this afternoon I called, had spanish speakers call, friends, neighbors, you name it. Seems the new phone system does not discriminate. English, Spanish, please hold, someone will be with you shortly. shortly was a little under 30 minutes, 30 minutes on Claro, do the math. I have flown this airline dozens of times without any problem, but today nobody could answer the phone.

    On the upside the new plane is awesome, more room than any flight you have ever been on, unless you get the front seats on one of the bigs.

  2. #2
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: La Costena

    Once I get home I will post the email dialogue I have been in the past hour, still ongoing and better by the minute.

    When the phone rings, somebody answer it.

    Latest is that now I have 2 seats reserved.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: La Costena

    it is what happens when there is no competition...
    That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable

  4. #4
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: La Costena

    You just cannnot believe it, made a quick call to reserve, Hold, Hold, Hold. I used more minutes this afternoon trying to make a reservation than I use in 6 months.

  5. #5

    Default Re: La Costena

    Quote Originally Posted by cookshow View Post
    You just cannnot believe it, made a quick call to reserve, Hold, Hold, Hold. I used more minutes this afternoon trying to make a reservation than I use in 6 months.
    Sometimes its best just to go the distance rather than make the call.

    I am more confident that the things (in Nicaragua) I need done are better handled in person than by phone or email, be it buying cable, dealing with an issue with your phone carrier, reservations, etc.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: La Costena

    I agree 100%, but those of us that live on the DAC are dependent on this airline, it is a long and hard walk to Corn Island.

    The last email I received I had 2 reservations,. I can easily fit in one seat. 50 50 chance I get on Manana.

    All else fails I know where I can get some vigoron manana.

  7. #7
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: La Costena

    I think this is the type of plane Costena bought. A great ride.

    http://www.airliners.net/photo/0612709/

  8. #8
    Active TRN Member renco's Avatar
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    Default Re: La Costena

    Quote Originally Posted by cookshow View Post
    I agree 100%, but those of us that live on the DAC are dependent on this airline, it is a long and hard walk to Corn Island.

    The last email I received I had 2 reservations,. I can easily fit in one seat. 50 50 chance I get on Manana.

    All else fails I know where I can get some vigoron manana.
    One of the great acquired skills of Nicaraguan life is the mastery of the reservation system at La Costena. Here are some tips for flying the airline based on years of flying back and forth to the DAC.

    1. Cultivate a relationship with the counter staff at the outlying stations. They are hard working and underpaid folks who receive an unbelievable polyglot of passengers from around the globe. The counter staff can either punish or work miracles if they are so inclined. Remember, they are the keepers of the sacred "list". The Managua counter staff has less flexibility on "list" manuevering, plus they have heard every possible story as to why an unconfirmed passenger is worthy of the holy grail of the "list". When on Corn Island and you are not on the confirmed "list" arrive early as there are a number of factors that can help you get on, including the late arrival of the ferry from Little Corn Island. The counter staff will often release confirmed seats if the surf soaked backpackers from Little Corn are not on time and you are patiently waiting in the terminal.

    2. Buy your tickets and make reservations in person if at all possible. I know they have a new website and online purhasing/reservation system, but I am still not convinced. Particularly when the website asks you to put in your "CREDIC" card information. Dont worry about language skills at the airport office. The counter staff at the Managua airport office speaks better english than most contributors to TRN (your humble servant included). If you can not do it in person, just use a Managua travel agent as they seem to still have a way to penetrate the maze of the Costena phone system. I recommend Agencia Ubago in Planes de Altamira as they have been lucky in getting confirmed reservations but any local agent will do. As an aside, Costena is one of the last airlines in the world that still pays commissions to travel agents, so the agencies in Nicaragua like to write the tickets and will often waive fees as they are still making some money.

    3. NEVER have an outlying station buy a prepaid ticket for a passenger flying out of Managua. We have had many situations where we buy a prepaid in Bluefields for a passenger flying out of Managua in the early flight. If the ticket information (which is still done manually) is not transmitted with 100% accuracy the passsenger is going to sit until it is straightened out. Our experience is about 50% success on prepaids written outside of Managua. For a tourist, that means the early flight out of Managua to Corn Island becomes the afternoon flight with a wonderful day touring Reparto Schick and the Mercado Oriental.

    4. In past years I regularly flew without a reservation, particularly in the rainy season. The price is the same for a walkup ticket and there was almost always space. However, with the arrival of the ATR and most likey a load management system in the reservations process, walkups are often told, "sorry no space". My observation is that they are trying to hit 100% passenger loads without over selling the seats like you see in the US. If there is not a lot of confirmed reservations, the aircraft will simply be down sized from the large ATR to the single engine Caravan and walkups are out in the cold.

    5. RECONFIRM your return flights the minute you get off the plane upon arrival. I tend to forget and it invariably leads to problems if I do not reconfirm. Remember this is not American Airlines and many operations are still done manually.

    6. Finally, be patient, remember that this airline is the main artery between the coast and Managua. They are flying in weird weather conditions, with at least one threat every six months, by some group or another to close an outlying airport and not permit the planes to land. They do a good job under tough conditions and in my judgment run a very safe and generally comfortable airline. Enjoy the ride!
    You'll excuse me, gentlemen. Your business is politics, mine is running a saloon.
    Casablanca-1942

  9. #9
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: La Costena

    Absolutely correct.

    Yesterday I was about to call Corn Island to get in touch with MGA. Everyone here was shaking their heads, all Costena's who fly often, the phone got passed around, try this #, no this one, after a few minutes or so they gave up, smarter than myself, I fooled around calling for a good while, it was crazy.

    Un momento por favor, then to the automated system, call after call.

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