There’s no doubt Latin America is full of scams, but that doesn’t keep me from coming back. I’ve written about Scams in Mexico City, Cabo San Lucas, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Buenos Aires, San Pedro Sula, Guatemala City, Panama City, and Bogota.
Last month I took a trip to Barranquilla, Colombia and my return flight had a short transit layover in Bogota where I was heading back to the United States. I flew on two different airlines, LAN Airlines from Barranquilla to Bogota and then from Bogota to Miami on American Airlines. When I checked in for my flight to Barranquilla, the counter agent said he couldn’t print my other boarding passes for my connection flights. He advised me to see the American Airlines counter agent at Bogota International Airport for a boarding pass.
When I got to Bogota Airport, I noticed a self-service check in kiosk where I could print my boarding pass.
It actually worked and I proceeded to security where I was funneled into customs. After clearing security, I headed to the LAN Airlines Sala VIP Lounge where I relaxed and worked for a few hour before my flight to Miami.
One hour before scheduled departure, I headed to the departures area where Business Class boarding had already begun. Upon showing my ticket to the gate agent, she told me that I had not paid my departure tax. I kindly inform her that it was already included in my ticket and that I was transiting. She referred me to another gate agent who looked up my ticket and said that the $36 departure tax was not included on my ticket.
At this point, I was being held hostage to board and there was absolutely nothing I could have done except to pay for the departure tax. I paid the 71,000 Colombian Pesos ~ $36 USD departure tax with my American Express credit card in hopes of later disputing the charge. I was given a printed receipt and went on my way to the jet bridge where the ordeal finally ended.
Upon a closer look at the ticket receipt, I saw a different name on my boarding pass by the name of Alexander. I had no idea who this guy was and indirectly paid for someone else’s departure tax.
I knew instantly that I had been scammed because I didn’t remember paying a departure tax last year when I went to Bogota. I decided to pull up last year’s trip report that I wrote about Scams in Bogota, Colombia. Lo and behold, I wrote that if you don’t visit the tax exemption Aeronautica Civil booth in the departure hall beforehand, you’ll get scammed into paying the tax.
I was super tired from my week long trip out of the country and didn’t think twice about visiting the tax exemption booth because I had done self-check-in at the kiosk. It’s kind of ironic on how I got scammed in Bogota by not reading my own blog. Lesson learned.