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Our Maldives vacation started a bit too adventurous. We arrived at LAX around 6:15am which gave us more than enough time to catch our 9am flight. Our itinerary was to fly a commuter flight via American Airlines from LAX to San Francisco, and then from San Francisco we’d get on Qatar Airways QSuites to Doha. From Doha, we’d have a 9 hour layover before we fly to Maldives. That was the plan.
Meet MTCA (Mr. Ticket Counter Agent)
Before I vent, I’ll just say that I’m not one to complain about a whole company (in this case, American Airlines), but in every situation, I’m a believer that it is the people that could ruin someone’s experience. So no, this is not me blasting American Airlines.
As I approached Mr. Ticket Counter Agent (we shall affectionately call him MTCA), I could sense that he wasn’t a morning person, not a pleasant character. How? When I greeted him with a smile and I said “Good morning, how are you doing?” I got a “Well, I am here” – snarky tone. I let that go.
He went about his business, and asked for our passports, proof of negative COVID test as required by Qatar. I was shocked. Lord knows I did my homework that with this whole entire trip, the only COVID test I needed to take was for our flight back to the US. That no other tests were to be taken.
But we did take COVID tests prior to our flights anyway
I did take a COVID test two days before the flight. I had my results handy. I took it because I was already at Urgent Care with my son. Nancy, on the other hand, took a COVID test just the day before the flight, to check if her COVID status. She did not expect to have her results to show at LAX. I was able to give MTCA my COVID test results, but Nancy’s COVID test results had not arrived yet at the time we checked in at LAX. Ugggghhhh!
While I had no “documented proof” of Qatar’s COVID travel requirements in my hands, I told MTCA that we were just transiting through Doha. Whatever it was he read, he insisted that a negative COVID test result was needed. At this point, I didn’t want to make a scene. I collected myself. This was around 6:30am. Our flight from LAX to SFO was at 9am, and then our flight for Doha leaves San Francisco at 3:30pm.
Think fast – backup plan
I asked MTCA if there was a nearby COVID testing site at LAX. He could sense my frustration, and he began to be more accommodating. He advised us to go to COVID test site not too far from the American Airlines Terminal – Clarity Mobile Lab. He offered to give us our boarding passes from LAX to SFO. We both agreed that:
We could wait for Nancy’s test results that she took the day before over at Kaiser Permanente
And as a back-up, that it would be best for her to take another COVID test at LAX at the mobile testing center
I just wanted to get out of the terminal and find this testing site. Doubts began to circle in my mind. Maybe there was a new requirement in Qatar that I missed. Maybe MTCA was right all along. Whatever. The focus now was to get Nancy retested.
Nancy’s COVID test options at LAX
We walked downstairs between Terminals 5 and 6 and found the Clarity Mobile COVID testing site (Location: 651 World Way). They were just about to open at 7am. She was given the following options:
90-minute results – $199, but this one is by appointment only, and the next appointment was at 10:30am…not gonna work for our needs
3-5 hour test results – $175, we opted for this one, and prayed that her results would be available once we get to SFO.
The amount? $175! Not that I welcomed the amount, but I just wanted to get her tested and for us to get the results before we leave for Doha. That was the goal.
HUCA —> WBAA
For many of my peers, they know that HUCA means Hang Up Call Again. I was still hung up on the way MTCA delivered this bad news. He could be right all along, or he could be wrong altogether. No, I did not not pick up the phone.
After leaving the COVID test site, instead of practicing HUCA, I did a WBAA…walk back ask again (that’s Jasonism). What does that mean? I went back to the American Airlines ticket counter, I did not see MTCA anymore. Someone else assisted me, actually two helped out (a supervisor and another agent). Looks like the agent was new, and so the supervisor carefully went through the requirements. She came to this section.
Passengers who are transiting through Doha, and not leaving the airport, are not required to present any test results or certifications above the requirements of their departure or destination country.
That’s us!!! We were only transiting through Doha. We had no plans to leave the airport while waiting for our flight from Doha to Maldives.
Effective from March 13th, 2022, PCR is not mandatory to enter the Maldives.
Traveller Declaration must be filled in and submitted by all travelers travelling to and from Maldives, within 72 hours prior to their travel via IMUGA.
I was right all along
The supervisor looked at her agent, and said, that we did not need to show proof of COVID test results. We did however, have to show the QR code for Maldives’ Travel Health Declaration. We provided whatever they needed and gave us our boarding passes to Doha, and passes from Doha to Maldives. I didn’t have the energy to complain or bring up what MTCA did. I just wanted to get out of there and head to the gate. I was just glad that we got our boarding passes.
$175 worth of frustration
Honestly, I believe our insurance company will cover this COVID test as long as we show a receipt. But it was MTCA’s handling of the situation that left a sour note, and bad kickoff to our vacation.
Be prepared with documentations, proof of what’s needed and not needed. Not all agents are aware of the regulations. I thought to myself, give MTCA a break, the Qatar Flight was not his expertise. But then again, he should’ve carefully read what was in front of him, and should’ve listened to me as well, instead of just shutting the door down that a test was needed. Clearly, someone else saw something different, a different guideline from what MTCA had seen. So iff you believe the person assisting you does not have all the proper information, walk away, gather your thoughts, and work with someone else.
Have I taken any actions about this?
I did send an email to American Airlines in early April. It is now mid-April I have not heard back from American Airlines. If anyone has other suggestions to get through AA, please let me know.
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