Flight cancellations are a fact of travel. South and Latin America in general, carry sometimes unfair stereotypes of unreliable carriers. During our one week stay in Cusco, we heard from fellow travellers of at least 3 cancellations that week. Two by Peruvian and one by Avianca.
Our flight Cusco to La Paz was cancelled 24 hours prior to departure, however we were not within WiFi range and the email regarding this went unnoticed. This is the first tip 48 - 24 hours prior to departure, check your email diligently or suffer our fate.
6:30 am Cusco we learn of the cancelled flight. Peruvian staff are surprised that we are surprised and upset. There are only 2 of them with very limited English abilities. Quite uninterested in extending help of any kind, we are presented with two official looking pieces of paper, printed out, stamped and signed. These are proof of cancellation and necessary to obtain a refund. All we are told otherwise is that the flight was cancelled due to operational difficulties. Later on we find out from fellow travellers, other Peruvian flights were cancelled as well, these poor souls on the way back to Paris, through Lima, are told the reason was in investigation into a Peruvian flight crash. We scour the news, no mention of any air accident anywhere in the hemisphere in the last 2 weeks. Can you imagine that kind of excuse prior to boarding?
830 am Cusco. We are able to find an alternate flight, next day. We incurr a loss of prepaid hotel stay in La Paz as well as a day trip to Tiwanaku. An extra night stay in Cusco we have no trouble finding. We fly Amaszonas a regional Bolivian airline.
Immediately, we email pics of refund documents along a letter of explanation to both Peruvian Air as well as the online broker One Travel. Within 24 hours we received confirmation of our claim and within 48 hours further notice that our refund was authorised and we should receive it within 2-4 weeks, which we have. Only the flight however. All this from One Travel, not a peep from Peruvian.
All told we flew AeroMexico, Avianca and Amaszonas. All the airlines were very professional with great service and friendly staff. Avianca although apparently troubled by cancellations as well, was the best in our opinion. Modern, new planes, with all the media bells and whistles, in seat TVs, WiFi, in flight movies and games as well as excellent food and drinks. More leg space as well then north American airlines.
Do not get freaked out by random personal searches at the Bogota airport. Completely random searches by extremely polite staff ensure you will not be fearing for your security as long as you are not a smuggler.