On Tuesday, tourists found themselves stuck between thousands of Costa Rican football fans and their flights home.
As Costa Ricans obsessively tracked the arrival of their national men’s team, La Sele, after its historic run at the 2014 World Cup – many rushing to Juan Santamaría International Airport to catch a glimpse of the players – thousands of visitors to Costa Rica were trying to reach the airport. The General Cañas Highway connecting the airport in Alajuela with the capital was closed for most of Tuesday afternoon to allow the Sele’s parade truck to reach La Sabana Park, in western San José, where the closing ceremony took place.
Gracias Costa Rica… Se robaron nuestros corazones con tantas muestras de apoyo y cariño pic.twitter.com/olGBuwvRWP
— FEDEFUTBOL (@FEDEFUTBOL_CR) July 9, 2014
“Thanks, Costa Rica… You stole our hearts with such demonstrations of support and caring,” tweeted FEDEFUTBOL, the Costa Rican football authority, showing a photo of the massive crowds that choked the highway ands entrance to the airport.
The international airport remained open for business during the celebrations, and some tourists were trapped in the 2-kilometer traffic jam that formed because of the road closure, the daily La Nación reported. Ground transportation companies, including Adobe Rent-a-Car and Europcar, told the newspaper they could not deliver or pick up passengers from the airport.
Over 3,900 passengers were scheduled to leave Costa Rica on Tuesday, according to the Civil Aviation Administration.
Despite the thick crowds of red-shirted fans and the special attention paid to the Sele’s Avianca flight, international flights took off without any trouble, Silvia Chávez, press coordinator for Aeris Holdings, the company that operates Juan Santamaría International Airport, told The Tico Times. Only two domestic flights were delayed because of the Sele’s arrival.
American Airlines, Delta, United, and US Airways all confirmed to The Tico Times that they did not have trouble getting flights out. Several airlines said they had warned customers the previous day to arrive early to head off any traffic delays. None reported missing passengers.