After many months of reading great trip reports, I decided to be part of this community and add my trips to all of you, so you can learn about my country and the best kept natural secrets we have.
I hope you enjoy my report, comments and feedbacks are appreciated, hoping to add more information from this side of the World.
If there any missing information I need to add please feel free to let me know, my very first trip report is a big step for me!
Since I’m a travel planner and tour host I have to travel several times during the year essentially between Atacama Desert, Easter Island, Altiplano and Patagonia, my home area in the Lakes District.
Considering I live in the Lakes District and spring seems is not getting here yet I decided to invite my mom who lives in Santiago to a weekend escape to the north of Chile in order to get some vitamin D.
I chose the Pacific coastal city of Antofagasta, is not very famous for a big beach resort, is the closest town from the big copper mines so there is a lot of promotions for weekends in the hotels (no business people then), but there is something from my childhood that always brings me good memories with my family during our summer vacations over there.
I booked a nice hotel for the weekend and I called my mom to tell her to get ready her suitcase and a good book since I have travel plans for us, especially since my travel season starts in October and I will be really busy with my tour groups.
Considering my mom and family lives in Santiago (1,000 kms from where I live in Puerto Varas) it is easier for me to do a stop over.
This is the itinerary:
30 September 2011: Puerto Montt – Santiago
01 October 2011: Santiago – Antofagasta
03 October 2011: Antofagasta – Santiago
04 October 2011: Santiago – Puerto Montt
I will divide the reports in parts in order to give more details
Airline options to do this route was only two, Sky Airlines (H2) and LAN (LA), I chose the second option for many reasons, mainly, better travel connections, service and earning miles with my frequent travel program.
The regular local airline market is divided between 4 airlines (actually only 3 since LAN airlines is divided in two) LAN 29%, Lan Express 48% (LU code and former Ladeco UC code), Sky Airlines 19% (H2) and Principal 3% (5P), the last airline to join the market but does regular flights only to the north of Chile (where is big money with all the mining companies), the remaining 1% is from a tiny airline DAP flying to Tierra del Fuego.
I booked my tickets online in the easy-to-navigate LAN site, paid by credit card that is a great deal since I earn miles with LAN, plus you can pay your tickets up to 12 payments with 0% interest, not my case, only US$200 for 4 segments will be pushing way too much in 12 payments, only 3 payments is fine for me.
Ok, no more bla bla… and here is the trip report:
The closest airport in the Lakes District is Puerto Montt (PMC), only 30 kms from Puerto Varas the main German colonial town in Chile, capital of tourism, city of roses, entrance to Patagonia, chosen the best place to live in Chile and where I live.
PMC airport is the 3rd busiest airport with more than 900,000 passengers per year, the name of the airport is El Tepual in reference to the type of forest in the area, or Tepu.
Flight: LAN Airlines LA060 (916 k/ 570 m)
Aircraft: Airbus 320 (CC-BAQ), thanks to the purser who wrote the registration for me!
Depart: 06:45 am, actual 06:41 am
Actual Load: Y 65%
Seat: 3A, but later I decided to move to 27F for a better sunrise and the Andes view.
I arrived 50 minutes before the flight departed, with my boarding pass already printed, since in LAN you can check in online 48 hrs prior to departure. The entire airport was so lonely, only 3 people were in front of me. The efficient, friendly and fast female agent moved me from 6C to 3A and printed my boarding pass for the flight the next day, printed also my mom’s boarding even though she was not there and the flight was not for the same day either.
My flight was the only movement at the airport at that time of the day.
I took some pictures from the empty terminal, went to the second floor, pass an always smooth security and headed to the VIP lounge with the idea it would be closed and… it was, it opens at 8:00 am. Walked to gate 2 of 4!
Time went so fast, 6:18 agents made first boarding call, process was organized, fast and easy like always with LAN. First elite members, then rows 15 to 29, 4 minutes later rows 1-14. I decided to board last to be able to take pictures and not feel pushed by others.
Anyhow, got to the bridge and a fresh nice welcome from the crew , the first thing called my attention was the interior of this A320, seats configurations where completely renovated and new. After a later conversation with the purser, he told me this baby bird arrived the second week of September, only 15 days old. So, this one is part of the order signed by LAN in Farnborough Fair in 2010 for 50 new Airbus (319, 320 & 321).
This new plane is known as the high density version, adding 1 extra row from the previous A320 from 168 seats to 174, eliminating the premium economy section (used only for regional flights in South America, just standard economy seats with the middle one blocked as a table).
So I don’t really feel good with the new configuration, on one side it is nice to be in a new plane, on the other side there’s less leg room and you feel it, but for a short flight I can’t complain.
Announcement and welcome in Spanish and English by the purser. 6:35 welcome by the captain with the formal introduction and flight information conducted in Spanish and English. 6:40 door closed, safety video information and then we were already in the sky.
I will let pictures continuing the story.
|Puerto Montt Airport, Lan Counters|
|Flight information display, later on is going to be a least 10 flights to Santiago in the day|
|The new family member, welcome! only 15 days old! Airbus 320|
|New high density configuration, I´m 1,78 cms (5,8 ft)|
|Climbing over the clouds, Osorno Volcano (know as mount Fuji of South America) and Tronador Volcano with the sunrise...|
|Over Ranco Lake and others volcanoes|
|Villarrica Volcano and Caburga Lake|
|Sunrise... over the horizon by the Andes Mountain|
|Happy meal - LAN, I really missed the real brekafast service from years ago|
|Santiago de Chile Airport - SCL|