HBIHLtoEZE From Switzerland, joined Aug 2004, 280 posts, RR: 3 Posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 8933 times:
Hi, Hallo and Hola...
as my Star Alliance miles were to expire some time this year I toyed around on the Miles and More-homepage and set up some potential itineraries (in March 2008). Much to my surprise there were flights available to Santiago, Chile in June - during the Euro, at a time when I had some days to fill. So I spontaneously spent 77,000 miles and some 500 $ for taxes for my flights routing ZRH-FRA-GRU-SCL-GRU-FRA-ZRH. The segment between ZRH and GRU was never available, so I had to take the detour via FRA. Even though I was aware of the discomfort of LH's 747s in Y I was thrilled to be able to fly to South America on miles at all.
First I planned to stay in Chile, doing some trekking and/ or skiing. However, I recently read an article about the Galapagos, and as I always wanted to visit those islands I checked LA's and TA's airfares from SCL to GYE and UIO. Given the distance, heck, these countries are a 5-hour-flight apart, the fares were acceptable and thus I booked on to the Equator, to Ecuador. (It would have been closer to fly to Miami first for example, however, no flights on miles were available on the Miles and More-homepage, either). Anyway, I was perfectly happy as I had the opportunity to experience some exciting routes, and great airlines and airliners. Above all, I was looking forward to flying between GRU and SCL, seeing the Andes.
View of runway 28, from where we took off two minutes later.
View onto Zürich and its lake.
Overview of ZRH's airfield.
The flight itself was relaxing, exactly what I needed as the travel preparations had been, as usual, rather hectic. I enjoyed seeing Switzerland glide under me, got a coffee from a nice flight attendant (a blonde with what I would describe as an attractive Slavic face who gave the impression that she smiled just for me). The loads were light, the flight very quiet and pleasant. All in all I must say a perfect start for such a long trip.
In FRA, where we landed 10 minutes before schedule, there were some fine birds around (as usual):
Air Bridge Cargo 747 VP-BIC, a -329 model, once flying for Sabena.
Volga-Dnepr Ilyushin 76 RA-76950. A shame this aircraft has gotten so rare in Western Europe.
Stunning Asiana Cargo 744.
I had a 5-hour stopover in FRA during which I was reading and plane spotting. At quarter to 9 p.m. the first of the Euro's quarter final, Germany vs. Portugal began. Fortunately, it was shown on screens around Gate C16, from where the LH 747 to GRU was to leave.
I was under the impression that the gate agents paid at least as much attention to the game as to some pax issues. Admittedly, the game was a thriller, Germany won 3:2.
The fantastic retrojet D-AIRX passed by during Germany vs. Portugal.
The boarding was 30 minutes late, which I found alright as I could see more of the football game.
The flight was completely full. I was a bit surprised to see a lot of Asian pax connecting from other flights (the flight had a CA code share, too). During the security announements the Captain interrupted to say that Germany had won...Before take off we had to wait for around 20 minutes because a dead rabit had to be removed from the runway. While the flight attendants did a great job and joyfully gave out red wine (something that sparked the conversation between me and my Brazilian seating neighbour), the seating experience on LH's 747s must be among the most unpleasant of the whole airline industry. The lack of inflight entertainment certainly does not help to make up for the narrow seat rows... Anyway, after a couple of red wine refills I was able to find some sleep.
The food was light and quite tasty. I went for the chicken.
LH's flagship, in this case D-ABVL "München", resting at GRU after the flight from FRA.
Connecting in GRU was easy. Hand luggage was screened again, and after less than an hour boarding into Swiss' HB-JMI began.
After LH's cattle class I experienced Swiss' Y cabin as much better. In addition, I was seated at an emergency exit, so I had lots and lots of room. The flight attendants were not only nice, but also chatted quite a bit - I felt as if I had arrived in heaven. The heavenly feeling was nicely underlined by the divine views:
Argentina is very flat, for the most part, in the west, however, the landscape gets wrinkles...
...wrinkles that turn into mountains. Well, this is the time I guess to be quiet and let the landscape speak:
If I am not mistaken this is the highest mountain of the Americas, Aconcagua, with an altitude of 6,962 metres (22,841 ft).
The Swiss flag is not completely inappropriate as Aconcagua was first ascended by a Swiss montaineer in 1897.
HB-JMI veering towards south. SCL is in the fog (on the right).
Landing at a foggy SCL...
I was extremely satisfied with the flight. I was as pleased with the flight as I was with the views. This must have been the stereotype of a perfect flight in Y...
Immigration into Chile is quick and pleasant.
I had a 21-hour layover in Santiago, where I stayed in a nice hotel. As I did not have much time, I did not do a lot in Chile's capital, sleep a bit, walk a bit, climbed Cerro St. Lucia, worked out, ate a hearty meal and went to bed early - I had to get up at 3am the next morning...
LAN is a great airline. The seats are comfortable, the leg room is generous and a there is a modern screen on the back of each seat. I experienced the flight attendants as a bit snappy though. I did not touch the breakfast as it only consisted of sugary carbohydrates - a huge cooky and a tired-looking cheese and ham sandwich with white bread. I was glad that I ate fruit salad for breakfast...
Announcements were in Spanish and English, the flight nicely smooth. Even though I was sitting over the wing I could get some sights:
Sunrise over the Pacific.
The north of Chile: dry and often foggy at the coast.
Flying along the Peruvian coast:
The whole coastline appeared to be covered by cotton...
Landing at a foggy Lima airport.
At LIM there are always some highly interesting aircraft around. Such as this nice threeholer, N279AX, a DC-10-30 freighter of Centurion Cargo.
Cielos Cargo DC-10 and a fuselage that obviously once flew for Iberia...
A late addition to Aerocondor's fleet: Boeing 727 freighter OB-1883-P.
Nice surprise: Safair Hercules ZS-ORA. One of only a few non-military operators of that cute propliner.
Peruvian Navy Antanov An-32B AT530. I was told to stop taking pictures after this shot.
LAN is, just to mention it again, a very good airline. From this and earlier experiences I would not hesitate one second to fly them again.
Immigration into Ecuador was not difficult and also very quick. GYE has a new terminal which I found modern and efficient. After picking up my backpack I went to Aerogal's ticket office and bought a one-way to Quito UIO (for 65$).
I love the 737-200 and I thus selected Aerogal over TAME (see next report). The 737-200 I flew on is a former Air Malta machine. First airborne in July 1987, this is one of the youngest -200 at all. The interior is well kept, very bright and clean. The CO 738s for example look much older if you ask me...
HC-CER at gate 4 at GYE.
Yukon HC-AZH from the air shortly after take off.
Guayaquil and Guayas river.
That's what I call an engine: it was great fun to admire the lovely JT8 during the flight to UIO.
Flights between the coast and UIO can be really bumpy as the wet tropical clouds are squeezed out over the Andes and heavily influence flying conditions. Massive and magnificent clouds were visible after only a few minutes.
That's where the clouds stop - the valleys around Quito were quite sunny that afternoon.
What an engine, what a contrast to the landscape!
Landing in Quito means flying over the city...
...right over the city.
There were some exciting planes around, too. Such as these Ecuadorian Air Force BAe748s...
...or the ill-fated Iberia Airbus A340-600 written off after a landing accident last year (now on white colors. The process of scrapping has just begun.
Ecuadorian Air Force Hercules with an Arrow Cargo DC-10 behind.
Former TAME 727 - still quite intact.
Aerogal impressed me - their 737 appeared to be in superb shape, and as mentioned above, the interior is impeccably clean. I especially enjoyed the ride on a 737-200 - not too many of that kind are still around.
End of first part...
Feedback and criticism welcome.
[Edited 2008-07-10 14:32:01]
Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
CityofAthens From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 2, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 8759 times:
No criticisms from me ... I love the way you manage to strike a balance between the volume of words written and photos taken ... keep up the excellent work. The photos are superb, although one must admit the views help.
That LH retrojet looks smashing ... a shame BA don't seem interested in creating a similar theme. I think the problem is our managers have absolutely no interest in planes beyond their ability to make money
I wonder how LX performs on the GRU-SCL sector ... it would seem at first glance a rather curious route for such an airline ... however, as an aviation enthusiast I am not complaining. Good luck to them - it's nice to see the Swiss flag in this part of the world.
That Iberia fuselage was an intact DC-10 when I was in LIM last Fall! I remember it distinctly, because I noticed the Iberia livery but an N registration instead of EC registration. I'm enjoying your report tremendously because you are writing about my favorite part of the world, so I'm really looking forward to part two!
"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is temporary; the evil it does is permanent" - Ghandi
AA300B From Ecuador, joined Jul 2004, 103 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 8495 times:
Great Trip report!
It's quite nice to read good reports involving my country since we don't get a lot of those in here.. I took the same LP flight you took on the LIM-GYE segment a week before you did and I have to say I'm always impressed with the service LAN offers , the comfort on their 763s just left me speechless.. Hope to read the second part as soon as you post it and lets hope you chose TAME for the Galapagos trip.
HBIHLtoEZE From Switzerland, joined Aug 2004, 280 posts, RR: 3 Reply 13, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 6865 times:
Thank you all for your encouraging replies!
Quoting CityofAthens (Reply 2): I wonder how LX performs on the GRU-SCL sector ... it would seem at first glance a rather curious route for such an airline ... however, as an aviation enthusiast I am not complaining. Good luck to them - it's nice to see the Swiss flag in this part of the world.
LX flies on behalf of Lufthansa between GRU and SCL (LH stopped their A346 flight to Chile), offering pax from the MUC and FRA flights a connection to Santiago. From what I've heard (and observed) the flight is quite popular, especially in C (don't know about F though).
Quoting LH459 (Reply 3): That Iberia fuselage was an intact DC-10 when I was in LIM last Fall! I remember it distinctly, because I noticed the Iberia livery but an N registration instead of EC registration.
HBIHLtoEZE From Switzerland, joined Aug 2004, 280 posts, RR: 3 Reply 15, posted (4 years 10 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 6460 times:
Thanks for your response, Hardiwv,
Quoting Hardiwv (Reply 14): Do LH pax connecting to LX in GRU have a specific procedure or you just follow the normal connecting procedure?
It felt very normal - the line in the morning was very short for the obligatory security screening (probably not too many connecting pax on LH 506) while in the afternoon it took more than 30 minutes...connecting from Chile to LH507 was much more hectic, especially the boarding was mere chaos.
Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.