Out of the ashes of Pluna, rises ‘Alas Uruguay’

On January 26, 2012, I was about to board a Pluna flight from AEP to MVD en route to MIA. After a delay of about 3 hours in Aeroparque in Buenos Aires, and about a hundred disgruntled passenger complaints, I decided to start blasting Jon with texts to see what he could do to help me; I had purchased an American ticket from MVD to MIA and I was running the risk of losing my whole itinerary (MVD – MIA & MIA – EZE) as I wasn’t able to make it to Montevideo on time.

Pluna Lineas Aereas Uruguayas

Pluna Lineas Aereas Uruguayas

After several unsuccessful three-way calls with American to have me re-booked on a different flight, I decided to resort to my non-existing acting skill and turn on the waterworks. After all, my sister was getting married and I, being the groomsman, could just NOT be late. So I approached the counter, manned by the most awesome ladies and I told them my situation. They were extremely apologetic and promised to do everything in their power to help. I have to accept that, traveling as much as we do and having had to deal with many of these issues, did not think they would be able to do anything at all, especially considering they were a small Uruguayan state run airline.

Much to my surprise, about 25 minutes after I had talked to the gate agents, one of them approached me and asked me to follow her to the customer service desk in AEP. I did, and while we were walking she asked me if I had checked any bags and whether I had my tuxedo in the bag – all seemed like small talk to me at that time. Once we got to the desk, she had me show my passport to the agent which already had issued me a full fair ticket in American Airlines leaving from EZE to MIA. They had my bag waiting for me and a border control agent to void my exit from Argentina (since I was now reversing course through the airport and would need to go through all of that again at EZE), and once I exited through security, a Pluna employee was there to drive me all the way from AEP to EZE.

Annulled exit from Argentina

Annulled exit from Argentina

I at that point had no elite status and it felt like I was being chauffeured in a Mercedes Emirates style. In July of that same year, Pluna ceased its operations and went bankrupt and I can’t help but feel a little bit guilty when I think of all they did to save my trip.

All of these memories were resurrected today with the announcement that Alas Uruguay, formed by former Pluna employees and the Uruguayan government is relaunching as a new venture in the South American market. They aim to operate a fleet of 3 Boeing 737-300 and they’re planning to service 7 destinations:

Alas Destinations

Alas Destinations

All the best of luck to Uruguay’s newest airline and I’m looking forward to flying them once all their paperwork is approved by the Uruguayan National Civil Aviation and Aviation Infrastructure Direction.

PS: My sister had just turned 20 at the time and still remains single. 🙂

Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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