We flew Barcelona-Managua return with Iberia this July/August. At Barcelona we were given boarding passes for changes of plane in Madrid and San Salvador.

When we arrived in Guatamala we were told that everyone had to get off the plane with all their belongings and to go through a security check. We double-checked with the cabin crew as we had no scheduled stop there, but were told that we had to all the same. We left the plane and followed the directions of ground staff, showing our boarding passes and asking too (my wife is Spanish, so there were no language issues). We were directed to a waiting area with various shops, cafes and gates.

Despite continuous attempts to get information, we were made to wait until an official told us that our plane had left hours earlier. He told us to leave the secure area and marched us to/through immigration.

Getting on another flight with our ticket also proved difficult to impossible, as we were told we would have to wait a minimum of 48 hours for an available seat, and even that had no guarantee.

Eventually we bought tickets using our own money and flew to Managua, arrived a day late, missed a meeting, without luggage (which took another 3 days to sort out), and with hotel penalties, etc.

Speaking to the staff at the airports and other travellers, we learned that this is not the first problem of this type with Iberia in the area.

What rights do we have and, above all, how can we get the money back for the flights we were forced to purchase?

  • 6
    I would recommend sending a tweet to @Iberia about your situation.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 26, 2014 at 12:19
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    I'm a little confused: your stopover was in San Salvador? That's in El Salvador, not Guatemala. How did you end up in Guatemala? Aug 26, 2014 at 19:48
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    It might also be relevant who "made" you wait: airline staff, immigration officers, police, ??? Aug 26, 2014 at 19:49
  • We weren't expecting to go to Guatamala either! The 'leg' of the journey was to El Salvador. And we certainly didn't expect to be directed off the plane, unless it was to be shepherded immediately back onto the plane!
    – Ian Latham
    Aug 27, 2014 at 16:07
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    It wasn't so much that someone made us wait, therefore missing a connection. It was more that we were directed to an area of the airport where there was absolutely zero information, including zero personnel from Iberia. No panels, no signs, no announcements... just a line of closed gates and the usual airport personnel manning the security booth and sitting chatting near gates, ready for later flights.
    – Ian Latham
    Aug 27, 2014 at 16:09

1 Answer 1


Your ability to be compensated depends a bit on the situation, in particular were there other passengers 'abandoned' or was it just you and your wife?

If there were multiple persons left behind due to incompetence or a lack of communication, then you have a chance. But if it was just the two of you, Iberia will be able to claim that others reboarded and you folks decided not to. Passengers miss boarding their flights all the time and while airlines will try to call them via the PA system, they won't delay the flight for one or two passengers.

Your best bet is to write them a polite letter, outlining what happened and ask for compensation.

  • yes, sounds like they went to the departure lounge, went shopping, and missed or ignored the boarding calls. Even if that's not what actually happened, that's what the airline will interpret it as and what the airport staff will confirm happened...
    – jwenting
    Aug 27, 2014 at 6:54
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    I agree with you and worry that is exactly how they will interpret it. At first we just stood around, but after 15 mins, yes, we did go to the toilt, look at the magazine rack and drink a coffee. But always within sight of the security check, always returning to it and always attentive to any announcement or personnel.
    – Ian Latham
    Aug 27, 2014 at 16:05
  • Thanks Tom. It was just us, which I agree looks suspect. But as we started actively looking for a way back to the plane once we realised that no-one was looking for us, I can only suppose that we were at one end of the line of gates looking for signs of life when someone came to the other end... if they ever did! We repeatedly asked all the staff there for advice and help and we speak fluent Spanish. No-one ever said that people had been looking for passengers. And as there was no PA announcement (or it wasn't working) I now am thinking that we were directed to the wrong part of the airport!
    – Ian Latham
    Aug 27, 2014 at 16:11

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