October 21st, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) President Laura Chinchilla was “trapped” in Panama City’s Tocumen Airport on Saturday after attending the Ibero-American Summit, the result of a “system failure” at Copa Airlines.
Chinchilla took to Twitter to express her discontent from the airport where she said she had already spent hours without any explanation from Copa Airlines staff.
At one point, Chinchilla tweeted that she had suggested taking Ticabus back to Costa Rica, or “locating a boat and taking to the sea, we can choose either the Atlantic or Pacific thanks to the canal.”
The president continued to joke with dozens of Twitter users for the six hours she spent in the airport’s Diplomatic Room, adding that “this long wait was less tortuous,” by being able to communicate with the social network’s users.
Chinchilla wasn’t all jokes, however, at one point suggesting that a class action lawsuit against the airline should be considered.
At 11:20 p.m. Chinchilla tweeted a photo of her and the Costa Rican delegation’s dinner, consisting of burgers, fries, and sodas.
Chinchilla said that other diplomatic delegations from several countries were also caught in the chaos, but said she was the only Head of State.
The failure, of course did not affect only diplomats. Hundreds of people were stranded at the airport, including hundreds destined for Costa Rica.
“We were treated like animals, overcrowded, without air conditioning, including children and elderly,” one passenger said, adding that there were babies in need of diapers and milk and seniors in need of care.
The Government of Costa Rica sent a diplomatic letter to Panama asking the country to assist Costa Ricans in returning home as soon as possible.
While Copa blamed the shutdown on a systems failure, one passenger said that he was told there was a strike and no crews available to staff flights.
Several passengers also said the airline had lost their luggage.
In a press release, Copa said the incident was caused by the unexpected failure of a computer network which is critical “for dispatching services, flight plans and monitoring of aircraft and crew from the Panama operations headquarters.”
As of press time, reports of canceled and delayed Copa Airlines flights, including at Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaria airport, continue to be received.