Guyana misses Junior Caribbean Cycling Championships due to Copa Airlines’ no-cash policy
Four junior cyclists, including the reigning national junior and juvenile champions, were unable to travel to the Dominican Republic to represent Guyana at the 2023 Junior Caribbean Cycling Championships on September 15 and 16 due to a Copa Airlines special baggage policy.
Aaron Newton, Alexander Leung, Ajani Cutting and Berbician Sidwell Sandy along with team chaperone Sean Chin-Chan were unable to board due to a no-cash payment policy for special baggage (sport equipment) by Copa Airlines.
Manager of Copa Airlines, Nadia Oudkerk, said the no-cash policy is clearly stated on the Copa Airlines website.
The tickets were purchased online by the Guyana Cycling Federation via Expedia.
Maria Leung, mother of Alexander Leung, related that after arriving at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport at 12:30 hrs Friday, they were informed that the airline would charge each cyclist US$400 to transport their racing bikes.
US$400 per child and an additional US$40 fee brought the total cost of transporting the racing bikes to US$1760.
All cyclists were prepared to pay the extra fees in cash, but were informed by the Copa Airlines check-in staff that only credit card payments were accepted.
Mrs Leung shared that the parents asked to speak to the supervisor on duty, who gave her name as “Shinelle”, as the team was unaware of the no-cash policy.
The supervisor on duty reiterated the advertised strict no-cash policy and shared that the person paying had to be physically present with their card, rejecting a virtual payment from a sponsor.
She further advised that without a credit card payment, the cyclists would be unable to board.
After attempts to book another flight with Caribbean Airlines proved futile, a sponsor attempted to book the team via American Airlines but this was abandoned as only two riders possess US Visas.
The tournament would have been the first for all four young cyclists who were training hard to bring home the gold for Guyana.