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argentinevol98
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Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Wed Apr 15, 2020 9:23 pm

All right I need to rant here for a moment. I will preface this with a quick mention that I am not a socialist nor do I believe that capitalism is inherently evil. I consider myself a supporter of the free market. I vote Democrat in the US but tend to the moderate end of the party. However, like everything, the free market has its place and in the worst global crisis in 75 years, it’s not it’s place to run as normal right now.

I just got off the US Embassy’s “Virtual Town Hall for US citizens and US Permanent Residents in Bolivia. What I witnessed in that 30-minute complete waste of time was one of the most shameful displays of obsessive market worship, disrespect for anyone who isn’t wealthy, disrespect for US citizens, and nonsensical propaganda that I have ever seen.

Nearly every question posted by American citizens for the Embassy staff to answer were about repatriation flights. Bolivia’s borders are completely sealed at the current moment and there are neither terrestrial nor aerial mechanisms to exit the country (Bolivia is land-locked, so sea is also not an option). The embassy talked about how they were doing every thing “they could” to repatriate US citizens and in the same breath said they “had no plans for more flights” (so, the only thing they could do they are not doing but they are doing “everything they can do”…). As infuriating and rather pathetic as that is on its own what came next was went further beyond the pale than what I could have expected.

A quick bit of background info: A couple of weeks ago there were two flights chartered by the US Embassy to pick up US citizens and fly them to Miami. However, unlike the European and South America countries that sent flights to repatriate their citizens the flights were not free. Instead of swallowing the cost and paying for the charter the US, unlike other countries, chose to allow the charter airlines to charge what they wanted. Which resulted in $1500 per ticket fares out of VVI (the only airport in the country that can handle the flight) and $2000 fares for those in other cities (connecting on a chartered domestic flight). $2000! Per person! A family of 5 would have to drop $10,000! (Round-trips between Bolivia and Miami are usually about $500 USD on BoA booked in advance). (The first flight was on BoA and the second on Eastern).

Nearly all US citizens living in Bolivia work for NGOs or are missionaries. Few receive any pay to begin with and those who do generally make less than $10K a year and more often than not less than $5K a year. Tell me right now, how in the hell is a family of 5 living on a salary of $5,000 USD a year is supposed to pay $10,000 with less than a week’s notice to catch an EMERGENCY flight out of a foreign country? Many of the people have no choice but to leave because of needs for medications that are rapidly becoming impossible to get in Bolivia, have sick elderly family members back home that they are the only ones that can care for, financial emergencies, issues with their visas (if you are on a work visa in Bolivia and you lose your job you lose your visa and become an illegal alien), etc. However, their only way home is completely unaffordable.

Well, most people were asking that same question (but in more diplomatic language than mine). And the response they received is one of the most disgusting and pathetic response I have witnessed from government officials in my entire life. Here’s what we were told, by an embassy official beaming with pride, “You have to understand that these are privately owned airlines that are doing the flights and since they are emergency flights they are choosing to charge higher fares.” Then with even more pride (and the part that caused my jaw to drop), “This is the result of the great cooperation between the private sector and the US government” and that if there are more flights eventually “people should expect to have to pay more” and then went on more enlightening discussion on the merits of the free market. What the hell? Seriously, what the hell? That’s what we’re going to do here? Praise the private sector and the free market for gouging US citizens in desperate need? What the hell are the priorities of our country?

It’s not like this is the only way to handle this. Most European countries chartered and fully paid for commercial airlines to send their planes here to Bolivia and pick up their citizens free of charge to them. Argentina (my other country) sent Air Force C-130s to various countries in South America to pick up citizens. The US government is actively CHOOSING TO FACILITATE PRICE-GOUGING AND EVEN PROMOTING IT AS A GOOD THING. The only argument that these charter airlines need revenue to survive the crisis (they are not a part of the bail-out from what I understand) but that is irrelevant because the GOVERNMENT COULD JUST PAY THEMSELVES and solve both “problems”. Trust me, the “private sector” would be just as fine with that. I have a degree in International Relations. I know that any excuses suggesting the US can't do the same as other is complete b.s.

The level of audacity that it takes from government officials to spew propaganda at their own citizens about the “free market” and the “private sector” is shocking. I for one, expect from my government, solutions, not brain-dead pre-set lectures about the greatness of capitalism. That’s why I vote. I am not stupid and I don’t expect to be treated as such by the government ever.

Look I’ll end this by saying that I have to leave the country on one of these flights I will be fine. I can afford it. If this “town hall” made anything clear is that most of my fellow citizens in this country do not have that kind of luck and privilege and have a far greater need to get home than I do. It also made clear that the current government of the United States does not care about you if you are not wealthy. If you are poor you can die in a foreign country for all they care because the “free market” is way cooler than their obligation to protect their citizens.

(Sorry if this is rather charged but I'm quite angry about this so I figured non-av is a better place to discuss this despite it being somewhat av-related).
"He sospechado alguna vez que la única cosa sin misterio es la felicidad, porque se justifica por sí sola"-Jorge Luis Borges
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:03 pm

Granted, the State Department was their usual tactless self, but what part of US Law isn’t being complied with? There is a legal means to obtain a promissory note to repay for the services rendered. As an extensive international traveler, I’ve always told people, if you understood your legal and economic exposure while traveling, you’d stay home.

Would it be nice if Uncle Sam paid for emergency travel? Of course, but it’s never happened. And this administration didn’t start it. Captain Phillips, of the pirate story would have paid for tickets until Maersk Line put him on company jet.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel ... izens.html

By taking a U.S. government coordinated transport, evacuees are obligated to repay the cost of their transportation. The amount billed to evacuees is based on the cost of a full fare economy flight, or comparable alternate transportation, to the designated destination(s) that would have been charged immediately prior to the events giving rise to the evacuation. Because different evacuation transports may go to different destinations, the cost of one transport may be different than another. We encourage people to leave on the first transport they are able and eligible to board.


Here’s the legal reference.

https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/USC ... 38-sec2671
 
AirWorthy99
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:23 pm

Just curious as to why you did not go to your 'other country' Argentina. If they were doing it for free as you said why didn't you fly out of Bolivia with them?

I think most of your frustration is because you would have to pay, I have family abroad and they were registered with their local embassy, they constantly sent them email reminding them that the last flights back to the US were going on. And if they did not take those flights they were on their own. Many decided not to follow the advise and fly on the last flights out, and those who stayed needed to pay high fares on charters in order to leave later.

As GF said above, even if the military takes you out of Bolivia on a military aircraft, they would send you the bill. The US government is under no obligation to pay for your expenses on getting you out of the US. You voluntarily decided to leave the US and live in another country, that's a luxury and a risk you were willing to take, and here it is.

Though I believe some sort of arrangement by which they will send you the bill afterwards should have been extended, considering the situation.
Last edited by AirWorthy99 on Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“It’s easy to confuse ‘what is’ with ‘what ought to be,’ especially when ‘what is’ has worked out in your favor.” Tyrion Lannister
 
argentinevol98
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:24 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Granted, the State Department was their usual tactless self, but what part of US Law isn’t being complied with? There is a legal means to obtain a promissory note to repay for the services rendered. As an extensive international traveler, I’ve always told people, if you understood your legal and economic exposure while traveling, you’d stay home.

Would it be nice if Uncle Sam paid for emergency travel? Of course, but it’s never happened. And this administration didn’t start it. Captain Phillips, of the pirate story would have paid for tickets until Maersk Line put him on company jet.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel ... izens.html

By taking a U.S. government coordinated transport, evacuees are obligated to repay the cost of their transportation. The amount billed to evacuees is based on the cost of a full fare economy flight, or comparable alternate transportation, to the designated destination(s) that would have been charged immediately prior to the events giving rise to the evacuation. Because different evacuation transports may go to different destinations, the cost of one transport may be different than another. We encourage people to leave on the first transport they are able and eligible to board.


Here’s the legal reference.

https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/USC ... 38-sec2671


Oh I get that, but to me the law itself is the issue. There has to exist flexibility for situations like this where people doing good work (well I disagree with some of the missionaries but that is another story) need to have some way of getting home in a truly extreme situation like this. Congress could pass a waiver a day or two after the gravity of the situation becomes clear. There is no reason the US can't do this along the lines of other countries from a resources stand-point at least. I mean we're already dropping $2T into the economy so we can mobilize to make big change fast. There doesn't appear to be any interest in making any changes to this right now. I for one, do make sure I always have enough resources to get out of a situation like this if I need to (and I do have more than enough to pay the fees they were describing). Not everyone can thought.

Now on the US law part the thing I disagree with in this case is that the $2000 fare is frankly nowhere near what I've seen for a "full fare economy flight...that would have been charged immediately prior to the events giving rise to the evacuation. Booked ahead of time a full fare Y ticket between MIA and Bolivia (this is with a domestic connection to VVI included is generally about $500 USD. I once had to book a ticket the same day out of Bolivia to MIA and the RT fare in Y was $800. That's RT and not one-way like this. I have no idea how they legitimately claim $2K.
"He sospechado alguna vez que la única cosa sin misterio es la felicidad, porque se justifica por sí sola"-Jorge Luis Borges
 
argentinevol98
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:29 pm

AirWorthy99 wrote:
Just curious as to why you did not go to your 'other country' Argentina. If they were doing it for free as you said why didn't you fly out of Bolivia with them?

I think most of your frustration is because you would have to pay, I have family abroad and they were registered with their local embassy, they constantly sent them email reminding them that the last flights back to the US were going on. And if they did not take those flights they were on their own. Many decided not to follow the advise and fly on the last flights out, and those who stayed needed to pay high fares on charters in order to leave later.

As GF said above, even if the military takes you out of Bolivia on a military aircraft, they would send you the bill. The US government is under no obligation to pay for your expenses on getting you out of the US. You voluntarily decided to leave the US and live in another country, that's a luxury and a risk you were willing to take, and here it is.

Though I believe some sort of arrangement by which they will send you the bill afterwards should have been extended, considering the situation.


I don't myself mind paying-and I can and will do so. I couldn't take either previous US chartered flight out nor the Argentine flight (nor did I intended to go to Argentina-I don't really have a place to stay there) because of other obligations. Thing is, I know a lot of people who really have to get back (I have much less urgency) and can't afford it. I agree with a basic fee representative an actual Y fare, as US law indicates, but the fares being charged by Eastern were easily 4X a typical Y fare to MIA out of Bolivia. That's what appalls me and it appalls me that the embassy gloated about it.
"He sospechado alguna vez que la única cosa sin misterio es la felicidad, porque se justifica por sí sola"-Jorge Luis Borges
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:44 pm

Guess what, it was very likely the fares being charged that caused the charter carrier to fly the charter. At economy fares, they wouldn’t have gone. Nurses in NYC were being paid $US 10,000 per week plus lodging at the Four Seasons to work at the peak of the virus hospitalizations. Was that wrong!
 
argentinevol98
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Wed Apr 15, 2020 11:14 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Guess what, it was very likely the fares being charged that caused the charter carrier to fly the charter. At economy fares, they wouldn’t have gone. Nurses in NYC were being paid $US 10,000 per week plus lodging at the Four Seasons to work at the peak of the virus hospitalizations. Was that wrong!


I don't intend to pursue this forever but I will add that while the fares much above fares may have enticed airlines to do the flights the law you yourself posted dictates that the price is to be in relation to a standard economy fare. It would seem, to me, to be illegal to quadruple it. And no I don't think the fees being paid to nurses in NYC were unfair and I don't think that is particularly relevant here. I'll avoid bringing the idea that health care should not be only in private industry's hands (there should be a public option imo) and how that has had a large negative impact on the US handling of the crisis...
"He sospechado alguna vez que la única cosa sin misterio es la felicidad, porque se justifica por sí sola"-Jorge Luis Borges
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 12:54 am

It’s very relevant—price “gouging” brings needed services and signals providers to take risks others refuse. Lots of nurses were needed, many wouldn’t go to NYC until compensated. Same situation here.

BTW, I think the USG should have provided the transport, it just the price of being a large wealthy nation in an emergency, but legally this is way it is .
 
N212R
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:02 am

argentinevol98 wrote:
Look I’ll end this by saying that I have to leave the country on one of these flights I will be fine. I can afford it. If this “town hall” made anything clear is that most of my fellow citizens in this country do not have that kind of luck and privilege and have a far greater need to get home than I do. It also made clear that the current government of the United States does not care about you if you are not wealthy. If you are poor you can die in a foreign country for all they care because the “free market” is way cooler than their obligation to protect their citizens.


When did the first repatriation flights leave Bolivia? How many and when did the first repatriation flight for US citizens take place?

When did the US government first issue a directive to citizens living abroad about the choices and repercussions of staying in their country of "adoption"?

How many American citizens were estimated to live in Bolivia and how many are estimated to be remaining? Thanks
 
argentinevol98
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 5:09 am

N212R wrote:
When did the first repatriation flights leave Bolivia? How many and when did the first repatriation flight for US citizens take place?

When did the US government first issue a directive to citizens living abroad about the choices and repercussions of staying in their country of "adoption"?

How many American citizens were estimated to live in Bolivia and how many are estimated to be remaining? Thanks


The first flight was on April 25th and the second on April 6th. In both instances, the embassy only informed citizens of the flights the day before the flights departed. For many people that was not enough time to either organize what they had to do to leave (people have lives, contracts and agreements they can't just get out of with 24 hours notice). Additionally, many of the people that did not take the flights simple couldn't afford to from the get-go. A lot have also has situations develop rapidly at home or in Bolivia that have dramatically changed their situation. There were easily 100 people on this live-stream asking about repatriation flights that needed to go home. Most were just one member of a family (usually with kids and/or older parents) that needed to come back so I'm sure it is several hundred still here looking to get back. Additionally I bet a ton of people weren't aware of the web broadcast (that is kind of their fault on that one) that are also wanting to get home. I don't know of any exact numbers and I bet even the embassy doesn't have them.

In my case I couldn't leave on either of the earlier flights because I could not get out of the commitments I had in the tiny time the embassy gave. Now, to be fair I am in no way in dire circumstances and have no issue having to hang around here a good bit longer if needed. I'd prefer to get back state-side as I am worried what the economic situation might do the political stability (after all the people here overthrew the previous government just a few months ago and there is a transitional government still in place). I'm less worried about me and more about others. There was a mother (US citizen) who needed to take her daughter for a critically important surgery in the US (unavailable here) that can't afford the tickets to get there and tons of people who couldn't afford to get back that needed medications and such that are now becoming unavailable here. These people did try to come home on the very first available flights and couldn't.

(If I get on a flight I'll do a trip report to lighten my own mood :lol: )
"He sospechado alguna vez que la única cosa sin misterio es la felicidad, porque se justifica por sí sola"-Jorge Luis Borges
 
B777LRF
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 5:23 am

Just a small, but not insignificant, correction: The flights put on by various European governments were not free of charge, but rather paid by the passengers. SAS, as an example, charged around 1200 USD for an economy seat for the Peru to Scandinavia repatriation flights.

Besides, I fail to see how a government is financially obligated to return citizens who voluntarily chose to go and live in another country. And I completely fail to understand why anyone with a preexisting medical condition would even contemplate such a move. And that's before we even touch on the subject of "missionaries" who, in my book, ..... nah, better not go there.

To summarise: You paid your own way to get there, you pay your own way to get back. The price of the return ticket is dictated by market forces and the risks involved. The only people I feel for, are the crew members who are operating these flights.
Signature. You just read one.
 
continental004
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 5:27 am

It's shit like this that makes me ashamed to be a citizen of the United States of AmeriKKKa.
 
FGITD
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 6:19 am

B777LRF wrote:
Just a small, but not insignificant, correction: The flights put on by various European governments were not free of charge, but rather paid by the passengers. SAS, as an example, charged around 1200 USD for an economy seat for the Peru to Scandinavia repatriation flights.


This is a massive distinction. I worked on a number of repatriation fights, and the company line was always they'll fly you home, but the airline is getting the money one way or another. Some governments would LOAN the money, others wouldn't. No one that I heard of was offering a free ride. Prices went up due to the nature of flight handling. A one off charter into a foreign country doesn't run the same as a daily.

The timing is another issue. Emergency repatriation flights don't go by your convenience. If it's a big enough emergency that they're chartering planes to get you home, it's a big enough emergency that you can cut those ties immediately to make them. You don't hear anyone saying they missed the last helicopter out of Saigon because they had a dinner reservation.
 
GDB
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:01 am

continental004 wrote:
It's shit like this that makes me ashamed to be a citizen of the United States of AmeriKKKa.


If it helps, our own UK (Foreign Office) has been heavily attacked for similar reasons. Though it's been affected in recent years by having the worst series of Governments in post war UK history. The current Foreign Secretary, Raab, is well described as being 'expensively educated beyond his own intelligence', not uncommon with this bunch. Plus he always seems to be on the verge of exploding in fury. His short term as secretary for the great stupidity (Brexit) was notable only by his seeming lack of knowledge of where the UK's main pax and freight terminal to Europe is, (most people know it's Dover).

The F.O. was once seen as one of the great officers of State, it should be but not under the current bunch.
 
petertenthije
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:56 am

B777LRF wrote:
Besides, I fail to see how a government is financially obligated to return citizens who voluntarily chose to go and live in another country.
I can see your point on that, but on the other hand... the expats do still have to pay US taxes (FATCA). I would say it is only fair that in case of emergency the government provides assistance. At the moment, the government wants to have the cake and eat it.
.
Attamottamotta!
 
ltbewr
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:07 pm

The issue of who pays for repatriation flights is a difficult one. Many don't want be in a 'nanny state' until they need it and countries also don't want to encourage people taking excessive risks thinking their government will bail them out. Still though, arrangements should be made for the country of the residents to subsidize the costs of those of limited income for flights in very unusual situations like this. For sure anyone returning from work (like on cruise ships) should have their flights paid for by their employer.
 
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WingsFan
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:29 pm

argentinevol98 wrote:
All right I need to rant here for a moment. I will preface this with a quick mention that I am not a socialist nor do I believe that capitalism is inherently evil. I consider myself a supporter of the free market. I vote Democrat in the US but tend to the moderate end of the party. However, like everything, the free market has its place and in the worst global crisis in 75 years, it’s not it’s place to run as normal right now.

I just got off the US Embassy’s “Virtual Town Hall for US citizens and US Permanent Residents in Bolivia. What I witnessed in that 30-minute complete waste of time was one of the most shameful displays of obsessive market worship, disrespect for anyone who isn’t wealthy, disrespect for US citizens, and nonsensical propaganda that I have ever seen.

Nearly every question posted by American citizens for the Embassy staff to answer were about repatriation flights. Bolivia’s borders are completely sealed at the current moment and there are neither terrestrial nor aerial mechanisms to exit the country (Bolivia is land-locked, so sea is also not an option). The embassy talked about how they were doing every thing “they could” to repatriate US citizens and in the same breath said they “had no plans for more flights” (so, the only thing they could do they are not doing but they are doing “everything they can do”…). As infuriating and rather pathetic as that is on its own what came next was went further beyond the pale than what I could have expected.

A quick bit of background info: A couple of weeks ago there were two flights chartered by the US Embassy to pick up US citizens and fly them to Miami. However, unlike the European and South America countries that sent flights to repatriate their citizens the flights were not free. Instead of swallowing the cost and paying for the charter the US, unlike other countries, chose to allow the charter airlines to charge what they wanted. Which resulted in $1500 per ticket fares out of VVI (the only airport in the country that can handle the flight) and $2000 fares for those in other cities (connecting on a chartered domestic flight). $2000! Per person! A family of 5 would have to drop $10,000! (Round-trips between Bolivia and Miami are usually about $500 USD on BoA booked in advance). (The first flight was on BoA and the second on Eastern).

Nearly all US citizens living in Bolivia work for NGOs or are missionaries. Few receive any pay to begin with and those who do generally make less than $10K a year and more often than not less than $5K a year. Tell me right now, how in the hell is a family of 5 living on a salary of $5,000 USD a year is supposed to pay $10,000 with less than a week’s notice to catch an EMERGENCY flight out of a foreign country? Many of the people have no choice but to leave because of needs for medications that are rapidly becoming impossible to get in Bolivia, have sick elderly family members back home that they are the only ones that can care for, financial emergencies, issues with their visas (if you are on a work visa in Bolivia and you lose your job you lose your visa and become an illegal alien), etc. However, their only way home is completely unaffordable.

Well, most people were asking that same question (but in more diplomatic language than mine). And the response they received is one of the most disgusting and pathetic response I have witnessed from government officials in my entire life. Here’s what we were told, by an embassy official beaming with pride, “You have to understand that these are privately owned airlines that are doing the flights and since they are emergency flights they are choosing to charge higher fares.” Then with even more pride (and the part that caused my jaw to drop), “This is the result of the great cooperation between the private sector and the US government” and that if there are more flights eventually “people should expect to have to pay more” and then went on more enlightening discussion on the merits of the free market. What the hell? Seriously, what the hell? That’s what we’re going to do here? Praise the private sector and the free market for gouging US citizens in desperate need? What the hell are the priorities of our country?

It’s not like this is the only way to handle this. Most European countries chartered and fully paid for commercial airlines to send their planes here to Bolivia and pick up their citizens free of charge to them. Argentina (my other country) sent Air Force C-130s to various countries in South America to pick up citizens. The US government is actively CHOOSING TO FACILITATE PRICE-GOUGING AND EVEN PROMOTING IT AS A GOOD THING. The only argument that these charter airlines need revenue to survive the crisis (they are not a part of the bail-out from what I understand) but that is irrelevant because the GOVERNMENT COULD JUST PAY THEMSELVES and solve both “problems”. Trust me, the “private sector” would be just as fine with that. I have a degree in International Relations. I know that any excuses suggesting the US can't do the same as other is complete b.s.

The level of audacity that it takes from government officials to spew propaganda at their own citizens about the “free market” and the “private sector” is shocking. I for one, expect from my government, solutions, not brain-dead pre-set lectures about the greatness of capitalism. That’s why I vote. I am not stupid and I don’t expect to be treated as such by the government ever.

Look I’ll end this by saying that I have to leave the country on one of these flights I will be fine. I can afford it. If this “town hall” made anything clear is that most of my fellow citizens in this country do not have that kind of luck and privilege and have a far greater need to get home than I do. It also made clear that the current government of the United States does not care about you if you are not wealthy. If you are poor you can die in a foreign country for all they care because the “free market” is way cooler than their obligation to protect their citizens.

(Sorry if this is rather charged but I'm quite angry about this so I figured non-av is a better place to discuss this despite it being somewhat av-related).



$2000 seems to be a standard negotiated rate for repatriation flights to US. This is exactly the price to get on such flight from India to US. There seems to be a incredibly long waitlist too as very few such flights are taking place.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:54 pm

Supply curves slope UPWARDS.
 
L410Turbolet
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Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 3:10 pm

B777LRF wrote:
Just a small, but not insignificant, correction: The flights put on by various European governments were not free of charge, but rather paid by the passengers. SAS, as an example, charged around 1200 USD for an economy seat for the Peru to Scandinavia repatriation flights.

Czech government chartered approx 21 flights from QS & Czech military , where total of 5000 Czech nationals + 1000 EU nationals And handful of 3rd country nationals have not paid a penny, not even the airport taxes which I find a bit too generous. Plus the National Firebrigade sent evacuation buses to reasonably close European cities.
All they could source locally is a mix of QS 738 + military's A319 + they chartered Korean Air 748 to bring people from NZ & Australia.
Taxpayer foots a bill of 4 million EUR.
I had a friend evacuated from Roatan... on a 738 :yuck: . They endured a RTB-CUN-YHZ-KEF-PRG without any deboarding at YHZ and KEF.
I have no problem with this as it is a one-off emergency... as I pay on a normal day for treatment of reckless bikers, alcoholics and drug addicts, adrenalin junkies, etc etc anyway.
I have a far bigger problem with the money government spent on buying overpriced, piss poor quality PPE in China.
 
argentinevol98
Topic Author
Posts: 164
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:40 pm

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 3:42 pm

Look I'll reiterate that paying a fee representative of a standard Y ticket (as US law indicates) seems fair to me, but I don't get how it is acceptable to charge several multiples of a standard Y fare if we look at US law. I guess the part that actually irritated me is not really that the US charged (btw I know that some European countries charged directly the pax but several here did not as well or charged like Spain did-550 euros-which is representative of a typical Y fare to MAD).

What angered me was the way they spoke to US citizens-a citizen, scared and desperate asks if there is some way the cost can be deferred or reduced, so they can get home and visit dying grandparents and the reply is that the fares "are the result of the close cooperation of the US private sector and the US government" and then go on for a good time talking about how great the free market is precisely when someone is talking about how the free market prices being charged are making it impossible for them to get home is crass in a extreme sense. We kind of got the generic speech on the hallmarks of capitalism when people wanted actual answers. It was condescending and the fact that the embassy said this with pride, and not any sense of empathy, seemed to highlight to me a toxic cultural element of celebrating the free market to extremes that have lost any touch with reality. That was actually the thing I was mainly angry about-not so much the charge-but the level of disrespect that government officials-whose wages we pay for (whether we live in the US or not)-would direct themselves with such a politician's style to people that just want answers. Hell, "look there's nothing we can do about the fares" would have been a million times better-and trust me I would have never posted here about it if they had done that.

I apologize if my rant seemed directed at the idea that they wold charge anything or that I felt the embassy was obligated to bring everyone home as cheaply as possible. Perhaps, the anger with how they spoke down to people was still too fresh :oops:

Side note: for those who mentioned the missionaries-I probably agree with you (hell I'm an atheist)-I view most of them with distaste and largely feel that their respective churches should pay for their rides home-that said I have been surprised by meeting some that don't evangelize nor mention religion in their work (I will admit I was ignorant that was even a thing) and do good work (usually they come as some kind of a "personal mission" and aren't funded by a Church).
Last edited by argentinevol98 on Thu Apr 16, 2020 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"He sospechado alguna vez que la única cosa sin misterio es la felicidad, porque se justifica por sí sola"-Jorge Luis Borges
 
johns624
Posts: 2732
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:09 pm

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 3:48 pm

argentinevol98 wrote:
In both instances, the embassy only informed citizens of the flights the day before the flights departed. For many people that was not enough time to either organize what they had to do to leave (people have lives, contracts and agreements they can't just get out of with 24 hours notice).
BS--If it's that bad, it's "see ya" time. If you want to go home, you go when you can, not when it's convenient for you.
 
BravoOne
Posts: 4094
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:27 pm

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:57 pm

continental004 wrote:
It's shit like this that makes me ashamed to be a citizen of the United States of AmeriKKKa.




Why don't you leave then? Turn in your citizenship as you walk out the door and please write and let us know how it worked for you. there are things that are not perfect about the us, but this is not one of them
 
889091
Posts: 194
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:56 pm

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Thu Apr 16, 2020 11:43 pm

These are not standard regular flights. Commercial airspace in Bolivia had already been closed so presumably they would have had to roster additional staff for immigration, baggage handlers, refuellers (if required), etc. You get the picture. Flight plan needs to be filed and alternates need to be put on ready alert in case an in-flight diversion is required and pax on board need to be offloaded and quarantined (some carriers can be asymptomatic with Covid19). Yada, yada, yada..

In addition, unlike a tsunami or an earthquake, a virus outbreak does not happen quickly (as in lightning quick). The WHO officially declared Covid19 as a pandemic on March 11 2020. It started gaining global news traction probably at the end of January. Now, unless you are stuck in the tropical forest with no access to print media or the internet, Wuhan and the pneumonia-like disease that was associated with it, was on the headline of every global news wire. That in itself should have started setting off alarm bells to ALL US residents living overseas - "GET THE HELL BACK HOME ASAP!"

Agreed that the tone of the briefing could have been different, but the outcome would have been the same.
 
tu204
Posts: 2169
Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:36 am

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Fri Apr 17, 2020 8:09 am

I understand when airlines fly evac flights, but are you sure that when it is a country's armed forces doing it that they charge you for it?

100% certain that Russian Aerospace Forces flights evacuating citizens from Wuhan back when this mess just started nobody charged anything. Maybe Russia charged other nations who's citizens were also evacuated.

By the way how would they calculate the price?
I do not dream about movie stars, they must dream about me for I am real and they are not. - Alexander Popov
 
L410Turbolet
Posts: 6224
Joined: Wed May 05, 2004 9:12 am

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:49 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
It’s very relevant—price “gouging” brings needed services and signals providers to take risks others refuse. Lots of nurses were needed, many wouldn’t go to NYC until compensated. Same situation here.

Apples and oranges? What higher "risks" are there involved for cabin crews flying to, say, on a charter flight to South America as opposed to regular service to a place like LOS?
 
AirWorthy99
Posts: 1092
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:57 pm

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:02 pm

Here is an article from the Miami herald talking about this, they interviewed Eastern Airlines CEO

Eric Blair, a 34-year-old self-described hitchhiker and writer, is desperate to get back to his home in Pikeville, Ky., from Cusco, Peru. He contacted the U.S. Embassy and was outraged to find out that it costs $2,049.05 for a seat on an Eastern Airlines Lima-to-Miami flight Saturday that was contracted by the State Department.

Why so expensive?

“It’s a fair question,” said Steve Harfst, President and CEO of Eastern Airlines, which has arranged 60 flights to repatriate nearly 10,000 U.S. citizens from South and Central America during the crisis. The company has arranged another four flights aboard 767s to and from Lima in the coming days, plus one from Guayaquil, Ecuador, on Friday, and one from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday.

The Guayaquil-to-Miami flight costs $1,021 and Buenos Aires-to-Miami is $1,497.18.

But these aren’t normal commercial flights with passengers flying both ways, Harfst explained.

Instead, the planes fly empty one way and then carry passengers on the return, so passengers are essentially paying for a round-trip ticket even though they are flying just one way. Also, the airlines operating these flights don’t typically fly those routes, and have little time to secure airport services, so they have to contract everything at the last minute and are at the mercy of those vendors.

“We’ve flown to 14 different countries in Central and South America and have no infrastructure in any of those locations,” Harfst said. “The U.S. Embassy in any of these countries called Eastern and said, `Hey, we’ve got a couple hundred or a couple thousand American citizens and others that can legally enter the United States who need to get back, so can you set up a flight?’ We then go to that host country and get permits to operate one or more flights.

“The minute we get approval, we call that local airport and have to hire handling agents, check-in people, ground people, baggage people, caterers, aircraft cleaning, ground power unit, fueling company and try to contract with them to provide all the services that need to be done. All that is contracted at last-minute pricing by these vendors. We have no control over that.”

Eastern isn’t the only airline in that position. A United Airlines repatriation flight Sunday from San Salvador, El Salvador, to Houston is priced at $1,303. And a travel writer who recently flew from India to the U.S. paid more than $2000 for her ticket.


https://www.miamiherald.com/news/busine ... 71361.html
“It’s easy to confuse ‘what is’ with ‘what ought to be,’ especially when ‘what is’ has worked out in your favor.” Tyrion Lannister
 
bhill
Posts: 1804
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2001 8:28 am

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:36 pm

Well, we do not have a functional State Department is the first reason. And I am surprised the State Department did not ring up the DoD to get some MAC flights working...not just there but any where US citizens are stuck...you DO pay US income taxes right? I am not aware, but how are US Citizens living in foreign countries represented in the US Congress? Is your State of birth used for House/Senate headcount? If so, I would be SCREAMING at all of your Reps to address this!
Carpe Pices
 
bhill
Posts: 1804
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2001 8:28 am

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:45 pm

...and as for the cost of airport facilities, US Airlift Command could prolly use any one of these locations: La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Puerto Suárez, Tarija, Villamontes, Cobija, Trindad, Riberalta, Roboré, Uyuni, Oruro, Sucre and Chimoré. These are the locations of the Brazilian AF bases.
Carpe Pices
 
johns624
Posts: 2732
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:09 pm

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:53 pm

[*]
bhill wrote:
...and as for the cost of airport facilities, US Airlift Command could prolly use any one of these locations: La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Puerto Suárez, Tarija, Villamontes, Cobija, Trindad, Riberalta, Roboré, Uyuni, Oruro, Sucre and Chimoré. These are the locations of the Brazilian AF bases.
You still need permission and support. Nothing is free. Also, the way the OP was complaining, I doubt that he'd fly on a transport plane with web seating. BTW--it's Bolivia, not Brazil.
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 5664
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Fri Apr 17, 2020 9:36 pm

bhill wrote:
Well, we do not have a functional State Department is the first reason. And I am surprised the State Department did not ring up the DoD to get some MAC flights working...not just there but any where US citizens are stuck...you DO pay US income taxes right? I am not aware, but how are US Citizens living in foreign countries represented in the US Congress? Is your State of birth used for House/Senate headcount? If so, I would be SCREAMING at all of your Reps to address this!


First, MAC went away 29 years ago, it’s AMC. Second, you need to understand TRANSCOM billing rates for off-line SAAM missions, which this would be. Last, it would be subject to the TRANSCOM Priority Tasking List, which makes this a 4B2 mission, “non-DOD”. The last 4B2 might have occurred in the Kennedy administration. Yes, the President could try to make it a 1A3 but he’d have violated the law and DOS Instruction. The State Dept would have to fund the missions out of their budget. Hint: it would make this deal look cheap.

GF
 
TLG
Posts: 381
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 3:41 pm

Re: Pathetic Handling of Repatriation Flights by the US Embassy in Bolivia

Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:44 pm

I am an American expat living in Ghana, West Africa. We had a number of US visitors here when flights were shut down. Most of them ended up leaving on repatriation flights. They were told to expect to pay up to 2,000 USD each. However, there have been instances in the past of evacuated passengers never being billed for the repatriation flights.

At the same time, there was a group of Canadians trying to leave. They ended up leaving on a repatriation flight to Toronto. They were told to expect to pay 5,000-6,000 CAD each.

Over on Flyertalk there's a long thread on repatriation flights. Prices quoted there range anywhere from free for some countries to 8K-14K USD each for Danish citizens, and anywhere in between. It seems that few countries provide free transportation home.

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