What American Airlines Is Doing To Protect Crew After Gunpoint Robbery Enroute To Costa Rica Airport

American Airlines crew headed to the airport for Tuesday’s 5:20 a.m. flight American Airlines 1204 from San Jose, Costa Rica to Miami were robbed when their hotel van stopped after hitting an object in the road.

Crew left their hotel in early darkness. The van stopped in the road and the driver got out to clear debris from under the vehicle. One man got into the drivers seat with a knife, another opened the van’s sliding door and brandished a gun. He threatened crew with the firearm and demanded their electronics.

American Airlines told me they “acted quickly to implement enhanced measures to ensure the safety of our team members.” According to the American Airlines flight attendants union, American is insisting on less obviously-marked transport and an alternate route to and from the airport.

After a preliminary investigation by SJO station leadership, Corporate Security, local authorities, and other security partners, there is no evidence that the perpetrators deliberately targeted American Airlines Flight Attendants.

As a precaution, crew transport to and from the airport will be conducted through unmarked or discreetly marked vans. Additionally, vans will begin using an alternate route.

I have no doubt that American Airlines flight crew weren’t specifically targeted by the perpetrators. It was certainly enough that they were Americans traveling in a group. It seems more likely than not that the van driver was involved and the incident wasn’t entirely random (that this wasn’t just the first car to come along, and the criminals hit the jackpot with a group of Americans).

As a general matter I do not name crew layover hotels. Given this concern though if you’re planning a stay within 10 miles of the San Jose, Costa Rica airport you can contact me and I’ll let you know whether your planned stay is at the same property this crew was traveling from.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is not a normal occurrence for our country. I am sorry for the crew of Americans and hope they catch and punish the robbers.

  2. “As a general matter I do not name crew layover hotels.” — would you be interested to know that the crew hotel in Maui for Southwest is the Andaz?! I mean, anyone staying at the Andaz (like I did) easily saw this. Very surprising. Wonder what kind of rates Southwest is paying.

  3. Well, it would be good to know whether the hotel was in San Jose proper, along the carretera toward the airport, or in the Escazu/Santa Ana area (like the Intercontinental across from MultiPlaza). Either way, I see very little likelihood that this “just happened”. It’s the middle of the night, so the driver could have/should have avoided the “debris”. And, furthermore, not stopped in the darkness to screw around with it. Bad driver, and almost certainly crooked.

    I’ve driven to SJO in the middle of the night for flights on dozens of occasions. There’s usually no one out and about at that hour. No traffic. So, nothing to prevent you from not running over “debris” in the road that would obviously be placed there as a trap. smh…

  4. I’m sure crew members (may you all be safe) reading this could easily reveal what property they stayed at. I’m not well-traveled so wonder if there might not be an airport property hotel crew could stay at avoiding the ride to the airport completely. So hope everyone is okay; I don’t know how you recuperate from a trauma like this and still have to be subjected to it time and again if following the same route. I think I’d do a Tom Hanks/The Terminal and plan to sleep in the airport if I had to; AA could build a nice area/lounge/Admirals CLub type space to offer.

  5. This is precisely why I, as Captain, refused to allow our van drivers to take the “beach route” to our hotel in Lima. The road is too narrow for a van to turn around and thieves could easily block it. Drivers would get upset with me but the longer, safer drive was worth it.

  6. @David: MDW isn’t as bad as it used to be since they demolished that housing project at I-55 and Cicero.

  7. To K who revealed the hotel that SW crew stays at…What’s the matter with you?! This is exactly why crew hotels are kept confidential!!! How would you like your car that your driving to work to be hijacked, car jacked or robbed at gun point? This is not the first time airline crew has had an incident like this!!!! Keep your damn mouth shut!!!!!

    AA flight attendant

  8. Cont….Airline crew have been murdered in layover hotels (yes, in this country the US and abroad). After what we’ve seen in GA…there is always some sicko with either a vengeance or stalking attraction to airlines and their crews.

    It happened to a close friend of mine who had the good sense to register with her maiden name. She soon after gets a call in her room by a man using that name (it wasn’t hotel personnel). The hotel did not secure the list after our sign in and this guy got ahold of it.

    So please before you decide to divulge something that might jeopardize someone’s safety, consider if it were your family member before posting!

  9. To AA FA, Can I just say to start that you guys and gals are my heroes…Always were, and became even more so when people went out of their way when I had a planned layover at DFW and although I was supposed to join a group for a tour of HQ and the flight academy, they had cancelled out and someone kind still insisted I come and gave me a one on one tour, including the simulators and the place with the staircase that the FA’s train…I was even more impressed with all you do and are trained for…So needless to say I totally agree with your thoughts about idiots divulging info that could put crews at risk. But that said even the limited times I have travelled, it can be rather obvious where the crew is staying. They are visible at check in, in their uniforms; they all are observed on arrival getting out of the same transportation. I don’t know if my comment was published here or not, but MY suggestion was for crew to stay at Airport hotels, if there was one, to avoid and need to have to take transportation to or from the airport. My other thought, with this being AA was that the Adrmiral’s clubs be upgraded to accommodate overnight stays for crew or some sort of area be developed for crew to stay. Be safe, we who know of what you truly do love and care about you!

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