They were supposed to be in Italy gearing up for the first of four concerts.
Instead, members of Coronado’s high school marching band are still here in El Paso – fuming, after their 10-day trip was canceled at the last moment.
“I’ve never been there,” Coronado High School band member Victoria Teplitz said. “I was looking forward to it. I even had Italy as my screensaver on my computer.”
Victoria Teplitz is one of 73 people who should be in Italy this week, but with less than a 24-hour notice, American Airlines canceled a leg of their trip because airline officials said they had to service the plane.
“Now if the plane is bad, absolutely, take it out,” Paige Teplitz said. “But put another one in its place. This is 2010. My God, we can go to outer space, but we can’t get a plane from New York to Chicago?”
Airline officials admit they had no other available aircraft. Booking the group on another airline was also out of the question because airline officials said all of the flights were filled to capacity. The trip’s coordinator, Cathy Ortiz, said she also refused to delay the trip or split up the group on separate flights for logistical and safety reasons.
“I mean, I wouldn’t be comfortable sending my son on his own,” Ortiz said. “They were going to have two here, three there, and it would be getting passengers in at different times through various routes throug hthe United States into Milan.”
For parents who failed to purchase trip insurance, some are out tens of thousands of dollars.
“We had never had any problems, so we didn’t buy insurance. We lost everything,” one parent said. “For a whole year, you save your money, you plan this trip. We budgeted in order to afford it. Now we’re out over $10,000 dollars.”
Meanwhile, the band’s director is in Italy without his band because he left a day early.