This is quite long, but I trust you'll enjoy it. Sorry for the lack of pics.
I’m spending a semester in Santiago, Chile, so the natural first step was to fly there. I wanted Skyteam miles, and SA)">NW wanted $300 less than SA)">CO or SA)">DL for the routing of MDW-MSP-ATL-SCL-ATL-MSP-MDW, with the MSP-SCL-MSP portion on SA)">DL metal. I set out for Midway around 11:00 AM on the 27th. Upon arriving at MDW, I checked in (with an agent due to my difficult itinerary) and stopped by Customs to declare the electronics I’d be taking with me in order to avoid an issue on the way home. I then set what was, I think, a MDW record by clearing security in 2 minutes. The first order of business was a trip to Superdawg for my “last meal.” Although the Superdawg at MDW has some shortcomings not shared by its namesake on the north side (most notably the fries and the service), it provided a reasonable facsimile. After stumbling around the B Concourse, I couldn’t take the sight of any more SA)">WN a/c, so I went back to Concourse A to watch N89S board for DTW. Meanwhile, N805FR, an SA)">F9 A318 pulled up. I’d not seen a 318 before, but it really did look like the shrunken airbus someone put up on A.net to mock US a little while back. The proportions weren’t right.
N360NW was 20 minutes or so late coming in from MSP, but the ground staff turned her at a lightning pace and before I knew it, we’d begun the boarding process for
January 27, 2005
A320 (Bowling Shoe)
Scheduled Departure: 2:37 PM
Actual Departure: 2:49 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 4:15 PM
Actual Arrival: 4:12 PM
As I strolled down the jetway, I noticed one of the elevators for gate-checked luggage that SA)">9E seems to like. That didn’t surprise me a whole lot since SA)">9E does serve MEM from MDW. However, the sign adjacent to the elevator did amuse me: “For Luggage Only. No Passengers Permitted” Don’t you love our litigious society? I settled in to 5F (that’s what paying the obscene amount I paid for this ticket will do to you) and marveled at the amount of room in front of me- I love SA)">NW’s curtain bulkheads. Due to my late boarding, I hadn’t been seated long when the door was closed and we were off. By MDW standards, we had a fairly lengthy taxi to 4R where we waited for a pair of Canyon Blue 73Gs to land and then had a very brisk takeoff, rotating just past the 13L-31R intersection. The fairly light load of perhaps 60% or 70% coupled with the short flight likely had something to do with this. As most flights to points north and west do after leaving 4R, we made a right turn to head due east over the lake, turned north, and made landfall once again over Northwestern University in Evanston. Our route then took us over Madison, Eau Claire, and downtown Minneapolis.
Service on this short segment consisted of spinzels and beverages. The captain was fairly talkative, addressing us at some length a couple of times. After a relatively brisk flight time of 58 minutes, we began to approach 12L. Although I had been unhappy to be on the starboard side of the plane initially as I missed a view of downtown Chicago, I was pleased to be able to see a SA)">NW 752 flying the 12R approach as we approached 12L. We touched down and I saw 3 SA)">SY planes holding short of 12R. That’s 3 more SA)">SY planes than I had ever seen before, but I suppose that’s to be expected in MSP. We turned off the runway for a fairly long taxi over to F4, and I spotted a SA)">DL 738, but I didn’t pay it much notice. “My flight is on a 732,” I said to myself, “That’s why I picked Seat 24A.”
How wrong I was… Once we made it to F4, the agents were quick to attach the jetway, and I was off fairly quickly. Not having a whole heck of a lot of time to transit, I didn’t do too much exploring, only strolling over to the international gates to ogle a pair of DC-10s. I then headed to Concourse E, by far my least favorite part of MSP. When I arrived, I realized that SA)">DL had 3 flights scheduled to leave within 15 minutes of each other out of 2 gates (E13 and E15). It’s a good thing that two of the incoming aircraft were late, as things would have been even more chaotic otherwise. However, this does not reflect very good planning on SA)">DL’s part. To make matters worse, many people were (not surprisingly) traveling with SA)">NW-issued (nwa.com apparently) boarding passes with incorrect gate information on them. To my dismay, I discovered that the equipment for my flight had been changed to a 738, so my previously ideal seat of 24A was now just another Y seat. I wish it had at least been a 73G (not on SA)">DL, buddy) so I could log another a/c type. Still, this would be my first trip on a 738 with first class. Around 5:00, the agent began to manually board the flight. Happily, I did not have an encounter with SA)">DL’s horribly annoying automated announcements on this trip. We boarded strictly by zones.
January 27, 2005
Boeing 737-800 (Overwater)
Scheduled Departure: 5:25 PM
Actual Departure: 5:30 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 9:11 PM
Actual Arrival: 8:55 PM
As is always the case with zone boarding, the boarding line extended halfway up the (fairly long) jetway. I don’t understand the method behind SA)">DL’s zones. They never seem to work well at all. I was glad I was wearing a jacket, but there were plenty of Atlanta natives (or southerners, at least) complaining about the weather. Once boarding was finally completed, we had a quick taxi to 12R and, after waiting for 4 red tails, were airborne with an announced flying time of 1:53. We screened SA)">DL’s safety video during taxi. I think the thing I like most about this video is its failure to preach or, really, to talk extraneously at all. It was over very quickly. Once we were airborne, F/As offered headsets for $2. Knowing that I’d get a free headset on the international segment, I passed. Service was pretzels and Coke products, although I was a bit disappointed that SA)">DL has gone to 6 oz bottles of Dasani as the water service (I hadn’t flown SA)">DL in 4 years prior to this trip, so I have no idea when the change actually occurred). The flight was routed MSP-MSN-RFD-Paducah-BNA-ATL, a pretty typical routing. Happily, we had some tailwinds to help us along. Tailwinds are a funny thing. We all enjoy them, but they mean that someone else on some other route is being slowed down by headwinds. Anyway… The flight was smooth except for a short while over Tennessee when, the captain explained, we were too close to the edge of the atmosphere and the strong winds there were causing turbulence. The captain had announced east winds at ATL, so I was not too surprised to turn on to the approach for 8L. As we turned on to final, it was amazing to look back and see the number of planes behind us waiting to do the same thing. The joys of a banked hub… Arriving on the 8s and 9s at ATL is something like arriving on the 18s at CLT: once you cross I-85, you know you are close. Indeed, the threshold of 8L cannot be more than a mile beyond the freeway, and we had a textbook touchdown right on the numbers. In normal ATL fashion, we held short of 8R for a couple of departing a/c, but after crossing, we had a quick taxi to B31.
Despite the boarding delays, disembarkation was much quicker than I expected, and after walking halfway to Tuscaloosa in the jetway, I arrived in the terminal to find a TV screen with all connections listed. Not having transited in ATL in a while, I found this to be a very nice touch. Just for jollies, I used the pedestrian tunnel which runs between Concourses B and C and did not see a soul the whole time I was in it. It’s not a short tunnel, so this was kind of scary. I then walked down Concourse C to the train. SA)">EV is pumping a lot of money into reconstructing this concourse, but I found it pretty nice, certainly nicer than SA)">ZW’s Concourse F at ORD. A quick (and empty) train ride brought me to Concourse E, where my flight was leaving from E18, about as far from the rest of the world you can get, and possibly one of the longest distances into a sterile area one can travel in any airport. Next door, F-GSPE was loading up for CDG, with frantic announcements being made in French, English, and Spanish (due to the surname of those involved, I think) for stragglers.
At 9:30, boarding began. Again, SA)">DL boarded by zones, although rapid boarding is certainly a strength of the 767 family, so the zones were not as much of a burden. With two agents scanning boarding passes and checking passports, the need to check passports did not hamper us much either.
January 27, 2005
Boeing 767-300 ER
Scheduled Departure: 10:10 PM
Actual Departure: 10:20 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 9:30 AM
Actual Arrival: 9:25 AM
As I moved down the aisle, I noticed how unimpressed I was with SA)">DL’s business class seating. I’ve flown SA)">UA in J before, and SA)">UA’s cabin seemed much nicer. I suspect based on the Y service, though, that SA)">DL has a service edge. I had picked 33A for its view of both the wing and the landscape (the 767 wing is my second favorite to observe during flight after the DC-10 wing). After boarding and allowing the overhead to swallow my bag, I stored my pillow and blanket and sat down. Boarding took a while, as did something after the door was shut, perhaps a dispatch issue. During this time, f/as came around with headphones and menus. By 10:20, though, we pushed straight back until we could taxi around the building on our own and headed for the line for SA)">9L, where we were perhaps #6 for departure. After a typical 767 departure from ATL, f/as distributed Customs and Immigration forms, which for Americans were simply a brief arrival card (8 lines I think) and a declaration of any plant or animal products for Chilean Agriculture. Dinner was then served. The menu was:
Salad: Mixed Garden Greens offered with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Entrees: Beef Complemented by an Onion Demi-glace, presented with roasted Potatoes
and Carrots –or—
Breast of Chicken Accented by a Lime Cilantro Glaze, served with Spanish Rice and Black Bean Corn Salsa
Bread and Butter
Cheese and Crackers
I went with the beef and was relatively impressed with the dinner. It was a one tray affair. The lettuce was a little wet but pleasantly firm. The beef was tender and tasty, and both sides were excellent. I would describe the potatoes as similar to Potatoes O’Brien which, while generally a breakfast food, were perfectly fine, and the carrots were cooked just right, still a little crisp but clearly cooked. The roll was a little hard (my only complaint about the meal), and the brownie actually had Oreos atop it and was delicious. The dinner tray had a prepackaged cup of water, but SA)">DL follows dinner immediately with a full drink cart, an approach I like better than the beverage-meal-service of about 4 beverages approach.
Trays were promptly picked up, and a coffee/tea/water service was offered. This whole affair was very efficient, finishing as were overflew the Everglades. I promptly curled up and fell asleep, awakening as we flew past the western coast of Columbia and then dozing until we were over the Pacific west of Antofagasta, Chile, about 800 miles from SCL. I’m unsure about service during the night, but I believe that f/as did periodically pass through the cabin offering water and the like.
I was fully awake in time for the wet wipe service, which could have just as easily been hot towel service. I guess that my recent SA)">DH segments had spoiled me… Continental breakfast was then served. It consisted of:
Minute Maid Orange Juice (on an ATL-based carrier, would there be any other kind?)
Fresh Fruit Fruit and Grain Bar (Actually, it was a Nature’s Harvest honey-oat bar)
Warm Croissant with Butter and Preserves
I was grateful for the food, but the croissant was not just warm but rather warm and moist- not real appetizing. I thought about pocketing the granola bar but decided against it. The drink cart again followed to food service, although I think drink choices were somewhat more limited; I just drank orange juice. After disposing of my tray, I looked out the window and saw mountains. My first impression of Chile was that it was spectacular. Before long, we had touched down on Runway 17 in SCL. I thought we’d be parking on a stand, but instead we taxied to the far end of the terminal, affording me an excellent view of SCL’s extremely modern facility along with an IB 346, numerous LA a/c, an AV 767, and the SA)">AA 763 from DFW. We parked at Gate 15 and were immediately surrounded by white-clad rampers. The jetway was quickly positioned, and deboarding was rapid.
I strolled downstairs to immigration and stopped at the cashier to pay my $100 U.S. reciprocity fee. It’s equitable since we charge Chileans $100 for a visa, but it still sucks. (In fact, it’s more than equitable as the $100 we charge Chileans is a charge simply to apply for a visa with no guarantee of acceptance. Chile’s acceptance rate for tourist visas, though, is over 80%) As I stood in the immigration line, I saw SA)">DL containers headed for the baggage claim- always a good sight. I waited maybe 10 minutes for immigration, where the officer was through but quite efficient and then headed for the baggage claims. Someone had already pulled my bags off the carousel, so I only had to go to Customs. I had nothing to declare, so Customs was equally quick, not even viewing my Agriculture declaration, and I was quickly on my way. As my “home” for the semester was in Santiago, SCL was sort of my hub for the trip, and aside from the road construction all over the place which made access slow at times, it was quite a good hub.
The next trip was a weeklong “academic trip” (more like an R&R trip) to northern Chile. The routing was SCL-IQQ/ CJC-ANF-SCL. (Santiago-Iquique/ Calama-Antofagasta-Santiago)
The “transfer” (group van run by TransVip) picked me up for my 8:10 flight at 6:20, but due to the need to pick up 2 other passengers in Ñuñoa as well as Santiago traffic and the lack of freeways (partially solved in April), we were not on airport property until 7:25, and we had to stop and pay. Thus, I arrived at domestic departures around 7:40. You won’t hear many complaints about SCL itself, but getting to and from is a pain in the ass, especially with the way that some cabbies in Santiago are. TurBus and the other bus services are a decent option without a whole lot of bags, but I didn’t really want to ride the Metro with a huge bag and the Metro doesn’t run in the wee hours, so I was stuck with the transfer. Happily, the leader of our group pulled me to the front of the line and the LA agent was quick and efficient, issuing me a boarding pass for 13J. I subsequently switched with a member of our group into 15A for a window view. I then headed for security where the line was nearly nonexistent. It’s funny. I don’t feel any less safe flying in Chile, yet the airport security is much less anal and much quicker. The TSA might learn something. I then headed to Gate 27 (actually a gate, although a stand would have been fine with me) where boarding was about to begin for
Operated by LanExpress
February 7, 2005
Scheduled Departure: 8:10 AM
Actual Departure: 8:15 AM
Scheduled Arrival: 10:30 AM
Actual Arrival: 10:15 AM
I should note quickly that I have no idea what the operating situation of LanExpress is (callsign, etc.). LanExpress evolved from LADECO, but I don’t know if they kept the UC designator and Ladeco callsign. If someone knows and would like to leave a comment, that would be lovely.
I looked out the window and saw my bag headed for the a/c. I’m not sure of the specifics of baggage screening at SCL, but I believe it is inline and have heard that it is quite efficient. The fact that I was one of the first ones from our group to arrive at the airport and yet all bags made the flight indicates that this is the case. I also observed various LA narrowbodies headed off to all parts of Chile. LA has, I think, one of my favorite liveries, so it was nice to see so many of their a/c.
Soon enough, I boarded and settled in, picking up a newspaper which was offered as I entered. The 30 inch pitch aboard the all-coach 732s was not nearly as bad as I was expecting. LA has the 732s configured with 120 seats. All announcements were in both Spanish and English, and the purser had a very amusing accent indicating that he had studied in Australia but was losing his Aussie accent due to being around too many Americans. LA 732s are staffed with 4 f/as, one above the required complement (I assume it is the same in Chile). Initial and safety announcements were similar to those used by American and European carriers, although there were a few amusing moments of translation (En nombre de LAN, un miembro de la alianza OneWorld…) On a serious note, I found that LA had a ton of OneWorld branding, more so than SA)">AA I think. We were served excellent hard candies before takeoff. I liked them as there was no indication about the flavor on the outside and there were about 6 flavors, so life was like a box of chocolates, like Mama always told me. Load was 100%.
We pushed a few minutes late and pushed back a long way, being towed all the way to the end of the terminal where we faced north. We headed for 17, passing three derilect 732s apparently being parted out. CC-CYJ and CC-CYK still wore their registrations. We also passed what looked like several Chilean Air Force 707s. It’s a pretty long taxi to 17, and by the time we were there, we rolled onto the runway, spooled up the engines, and took off. After 5 or 10 miles, we made a left turn and made almost directly for IQQ.
Happily, breakfast was served on this flight. It consisted of a ham and cheese filled empanada (similar to an empanada, anyway), a cup of peaches, a roll with butter and jam, and a full beverage service. On both meal service flights, both food and beverages came on a single cart. The food was excellent, with the roll even being moist enough, unusual for an airline meal, and receiving a meal on a 2+ hour segment was a very happy surprise. However, I was thoroughly unimpressed with LA’s service. LA obviously has high standards for service (meals, candy, newspapers, etc.), but the cabin crew made no effort to exceed these standards. SA)">NW crew on 42 minute ORD-DTW segments have impressed me far more. I looked down and saw the ocean, and before I knew it, initial descent into IQQ had been announced. The approach was breathtaking, with the aircraft flying past IQQ and making a 180 degree turn to land on Runway 18. On final, the sand dunes beyond IQQ, which I think are about 2000 feet high, blew me away. The approach was fairly high and fast, and upon landing I thought for a moment that we wouldn’t be using reversers, quite a disappointment. Soon enough, though, the backs of the engines popped up and we turned off of the runway. When 732s finally disappear, and they are nearly gone in the States, I am going to be a bit sad. Perhaps because my first flight (ORD-HPN, August, 1992) was on a 732 or perhaps because of their little quirks like the reversers, I am going to miss them. In any event, it wasn’t a long taxi to the terminal. IQQ has 2 gates and 2 jetways, and we pulled in to Gate 2 and joined CC-COX, a LA 319 likely headed back to SCL. We were soon joined by a H2 732 which parked between the two LA a/c on a stand.
The taxiway network at IQQ is quite complicated. On leaving the ramp, a pilot sees a single sign on the taxiway which points to 18 and 36. He turns and goes on his way. Chile loves these one-runway airports. In fact, I’m not sure there are any airports in the country with multiple runways. Anyway, the jetway was soon attached, and we walked up the jetway to a short bridge leading to the terminal which, unlike at SCL and ANF, was open air rather than glass-enclosed. I like these little bridges as they afford a good view of operations. IQQ is an international airport (scheduled international service from Bolivia with LA), and as such departures and arrivals are segregated, so we took an outside ramp down to the lower level. On the way, we passed over the happening LA bagroom, which consisted of a single carousel with a single sign, “LA Domestic Destinations.” LA 380 continued to ARI (Arica, a mere 11 miles from the Peruvian border).
Once inside, we passed the empty immigration windows and strolled to the single bag claim, where bags were not surprisingly delivered very promptly. As one guide book puts it, IQQ is “a whacking 40 km south of Iquique”, so we had a bit of a drive, but soon enough we were in Iquique.
This next section is not, strictly speaking, aviaton-related. However, having seen the occasional 2V t/r here and knowing that most aviation buffs love travel, I think it’s worthwhile. After our time in Iquique, we were to head to San Pedro de Atacama by way of Calama with a stop at Chuquicamata, the world’s largest copper mine. In order to do this, we had to enlist the services of Pullman bus. We arrived at the terminal, in a really sketchy part of Iquique, around 10:30, and by 10:50, we had dropped off our “checked” luggage and boarded for
Pullman Bus Service
Febraury 9, 2005
Scheduled Departure: 11:00 PM
Actual Departure: 11:15 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 6:00 AM
Actual Arrival: 5:40 AM
Semi-Cama literally translates to partial-bed, and that’s what the seats were. Pitch was about 40 inches, recline was generous, and foot rests were provided. Chile probably has the best interurban bus service in the Western hemisphere, as Pullman and Tur serve most routes, and many smaller carriers also compete on select routes. The crew complement for this trip was 2 drivers (Chilean bus drivers are limited to five hours of driving) and a cabin attendant who made himself available periodically but was not what I would describe as attentive. The bus boarded through a door in the middle of the right side, and the boarding stairwell also afforded lavatory access. We pulled out a little late, and I promptly grabbed a pillow and blanket and reclined and slept after watching the climb out of Iquique (absolutely spectacular). I was awakened around 2:00 by bright lights and realized that we’d stopped in a checkpoint of the Aduana, roughly equivalent to USCBP, along the PanAmerican. I think they enforce the provisions of the duty-free zone in Iquique as well as try to curtail drug trafficking.
We all had to alight from the bus and retrieve our checked bags, and agents went through luggage while others searched the bus. The entire process took maybe twenty minutes, and there were buses both ahead of and behind us. I went back to sleep, and around 5:10, the cabin attendant began a typically Chilean service of cookies and Nescafe. The drawback of Seats 15 and 16 was that the space behind was used for food service and had to be periodically accessed by the attendant. As Calama lacks a bus terminal, we were promptly deposited on the curb to await our transport to Chuqui and San Pedro.
After a breathtaking stay in San Pedro, we left our hotel around 3:45 on February 14 to make the drive back to CJC and arrived at CJC around 5:15. CJC is a nice small airport, featuring a restaurant and small souvenir shop outside of security and a hotspot inside. What else could the world traveler want? CJC is served by LA and H2, like most Chilean airports. Since Calama is basically a copper town, I suppose that LADECO (that stands for Lineas Aéreas del Cobre) was a major player back in the day, but alas, LADECO doesn’t exist now. Checkin was painless, and I again got a taste of operations as I saw another extremely sophisticated bagroom consisting of a door in the wall of the terminal building, a ramper, and several carts. I passed through security with little effort and noticed that some H2 checked bags were being screened at the checkpoint. I’m not sure why. I sat in one of the 30 or so chairs in the departure lounge and observed CC-CTU, a H2 732 operating Flight 177 to SCL on Stand 4 and CC-COU, a LA 319 operating the 6:00 direct service to SCL on Stand 2. There was a brisk west wind, so I watched both a/c taxi to and take off from 28 and then observed the arrival of our aircraft for the evening. Boarding was supposed to start at 6:15, but did not start until 6:40 for the first leg of
Operated by LanExpress
February 14, 2005
Scheduled Departure: 6:50 PM
Actual Departure: 6:55 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 7:25 PM
Actual Arrival: 7:25 PM
LA labels the 732 seats as ABC and JKL, so this was the middle seat on the starboard side, where I still had good window access. We boarded through Gate 2 (FWIW; all the departure gates are doors right in a row) and headed out to our ride. Just to walk alongside her a little while longer, I boarded through the rear airstairs, took my newspaper, and took my seat. Before long, we were off with a very light load of about 25 or 30 (including our group of 17). The flight attendant making the announcements had clearly not spent a whole lot of time in an English speaking country, but she did a good job informing us that we’d be having a “liquid service.” Flight time to ANF was 30 minutes. CJC lacks even a parallel taxiway, so we back-taxied on 10-28 to the 28 threshold and ran up the engines despite 8000 or 9000 feet of runway and had a rather brisk t/o. We soon turned southwest toward ANF, and before I knew it, I had received, drank, and returned a cup of Vital sin gas (mineral water) and we were descending. I noticed a couple of things on this flight. First, the f/as used the galley curtains, an interesting surprise. I think they did on the outbound leg too, but I was too far back to notice. Second, the lead f/a entered the cockpit at least twice during this trip, and people went to the front lav and even congregated in front of it several times. Still, I did not feel unsafe. CJC-ANF provides absolutely amazing views of the mountains and the ocean, and I was glued to the window despite my middle seat. As we descended in to ANF, I felt a little bit of windshear, but the captain put her down on Runway 19 right on time. We taxied swiftly to Gate 1 (I think; it was the northernmost jetway), and the 7 or so O&D pax were quickly offloaded. The f/a then announced that the a/c would be fueled so we needed to remain in our seats with our seat belts open. I’ve never heard that announcement made in the States. Wile LSG was catering the a/c (ahh… globalization), the ANF originators began boarding. The flight had only 48 seats filled, so once it became obvious that they were closing the flight, I moved up to 2A to have three seats to myself. Right on time, we were off for
Operated by LanExpress
February 14, 2005
Scheduled Departure: 7:45 PM
Actual Departure: 7:45 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 9:40 PM
Actual Arrival: 9:26 PM
The Captain announced the flight time as one hour, thirty minutes, and before I knew it (but happily after the hard candy service) we were approaching the threshold of runway 19 to take off into the vigorous south wind. Unlike in CJC, we had a rolling t/o and turned off the runway heading very soon after leaving the ground, probably to avoid that pesky windshear. All the way to SCL, I had a phenomenal view of the Andes, accompanied for much of the journey by a thunderstom with numerous lightning strikes in Argentina. Service was announced as a snack service, but I think the only thing that made it snack rather than dinner was lack of a salad and the fact that it was a one tray service.
I had filled pasta in white sauce, which came with a Boston cream pie type desert as well as a hard roll. The dessert was good, but the rest of the meal was stereotypically tasteless airline food. Happily, alcohol was free and freely flowing. Again, service did not impress me in the least. The f/as in the forward galley hid behind the curtain for much of the flight. I think that lavs betray an a/c’s history better than any other part of the plane, and in fact, I found several signs in German there… Perhaps CDB is an ex-LH bird? I believe they operated quite a few 732s back in the day . The flight was smooth and soon enough we were approaching SCL. We flew basically straight in to 17, and as we approached I marveled at how Santiago looks just like any other city from the air…until you notice the cerros (hills) randomly poking upward. Our rollout on 17 was nearly perfect, allowing us to exit right at the east side of the terminal and pull in to Gate 23 with hardly any taxi. LA’s ground handling is flawless, and the jetway was quickly positioned and we were off. I made two stops on the way to baggage, one to admire the sculpture made of Samsonites on the lower level and another at the bathroom, and my bag was waiting for me. I kind of like the Chilean system if making even the domestic baggage claim sterile. It does a nice job of making baggage claim less chaotic, and I was able to pay for my transfer before entering the relative chaos outside. Again, I was quite impressed with SCL. It is truly a world-class airport.
We had “spring” break during Holy Week, and I decided to go to Chiloé, an island in southern Chile (“spring” gets quotes as the southern hemisphere otonal equinox occurred while we were in the south). To get there, we flew to PMC (Puerto Montt, a not-so-happening city of 88,000 or so which is the capital of Chile’s Tenth Region). Routing was a straightforward SCL-PMC-SCL on LA.
I decided to partake in public transit for this trip as I had just one backpack, and so I left my house in La Reina around 9:20 to take the micro to the metro to meet my friends downtown. From there, we boarded Centropuerto’s airport bus, a bargain at only 1100 pesos, or around $2 U.S., for the 25 minute or so trip to Pudahuel. We arrived there around 11:00 for the 12:55 flight. On the way in, I spotted a pair of SA)">AA 763s parked on the cargo ramp, bringing a little smile to my face as they reminded me of home. I checked in at a kiosk. That was fairly easy, and I like LA’s system of putting the kiosks totally separate from baggage check and then having anyone with a boarding pass (online or from the kiosk) tag bags to a separate counter. The agent was, as always, efficient with my bag, and soon I was on my way and assigned seat SA)">9L. Security was quick, as always, and the 5 gringos were soon released on SCL’s secure domestic side. We’d be departing once again from Gate 27, and as I knew where that was I got some pie and raspberry juice (good stuff) from a restaurant and gazed out the window, seeing a pair of 777s heading over to the international ramp (RG and AF). Soon enough, my old friend CC-CDB pulled up to Gate 27, and I made my way over there. I noticed a lot of Americans (about 50% of the pax and extremely obnoxious, in true American form) in the boarding area, and before long we were boarding for
Operated by LanExpress
March 19, 2005
Scheduled Departure: 12:55 PM
Actual Departure: 1:00 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 2:35 PM
Actual Arrival: 2:37 PM
Boarding was fairly quick, and the people in 9J and SA)">9K moved back to the exit row once the door was closed. They mistook me for a Chilean, and the lady in the group needed her bag, so I got a very pissy sounding “do you speak English?” from her. As usual, newspapers and hard candies were offered before pushback, and 2 newspapers (La Tercera and Las Ultimas Noticias) were both offered. I’ve realized that Chileans are really anal about FOD, as we were again pushed back to the east side of the teminal, and the H2 732 next door was too. The taxi to 17 was long but uninterrupted, and I was treated to a PU 752 coming in from MVD as we neared the departure end of 17. We turned on to the runway immediately, waited for the PU bird to clear the runway, and started our takeoff roll. As we rolled past the LA hangers, I saw a SA)">DL 763, further reminding me of the States. Once airborne, we stayed basically on the runway heading for a while and then turned out over the ocean, as is usual for flights within Chile. We flew in to the clouds before we got to Rancagua (capital of the VI region), and before long, the FAs started the meal service. Surprisingly, all announcements on this flight were in Spanish only, although I believe that all 4 f/as spoke English. Load was around 100/120.
The meal consisted of stir fried vegetables, some sort of potato and spinach creation, a roll, and a dessert consisting of layered apple filling and pastry with cinnamon on top. The meal was quite good. As is par for the course on LA, f/as disappeared in to the galley after meal service. The flight was fairly smooth until descent, which was announced just as the meal service was being cleaned up. A meal on a 90 minute segment is really a push, although on both of my flights on this trip, the service was not rushed, but there was certainly no extra time. Descent was bumpy and full of turns, not surprising considering the very poor weather which Puerto Montt generally experiences. Once we were on final, we flew a fast 732 approach to Runway 35. We soon escaped from the clouds, and I looked town and saw nothing but green. With the amount of rain Los Lagos receives, it had better be green. There’s not really a defined border on the south side of PMC, so the approach was a little nerve-wracking, but we soon touched down on 35 just a few minutes late and taxied to the ramp, where we parked at Gate 2. In stark contrast with the beauty both inside and landside, PMC’s airside architecture is absolutely hideous, but we were soon off the plane and down the stairs to the arrivals hall (PMC is barely an international airport, but even barely international airports have to be set up for it). Bags were waiting for us, but one of our group’s bags had unfortunately gotten torn by LA, so we had to file a claim. That caused us to miss the bus that followed our flight and necessitated a wait for the next one, but internet access and a nice restaurant landside made the wait bearable. Once the bus arrived, it was cheap (1100 pesos), very nice (coach bus), and took us right to the bus terminal in Puerto Montt, so I had no complaints. For an airport as small as PMC, that is a very nice arrangement for ground transportation. Flight 273 continued to BBA (Balmaceda), although most passengers alighted in PMC.
As the bus out to PMC runs sort of irregularly, we showed up at the bus terminal around 4:00 even though our flight home was not until 7:45. However, we were blessed (or were we cursed?) to catch a bus right away, so we arrived at PMC nearly three hours early. Checkin was a bit humorous, as after the agent had taken our bags, my friend realized that she had scissors in her carryon and asked to put them in her checked bag. The agent invited her to come behind the counter, so she climbed over and tucked them in to the bag. We were assigned 13 K&L, and after a quick run through the gift shop, we headed upstairs to the restaurant, where we snacked a bit on good but expensive food. I noticed that the elevator at PMC is very interesting. It serves both the secure and unsecure areas with a single elevator with a window in the middle. Thus, when it arrives at either the first or second floor, it is possible to look through into the other side of the airport. It’s a little strange. After killing an hour plus outside of security, we quickly passed through to the airside, and climbed the stairs to departure lounge 2. PMC’s airside is pretty basic, with two departure lounges, one of them flanked by 2 Policia de Investigaciones booths to stamp people out of the country, another counter of the same restaurant, and bathrooms. The bridges which lead out to the jetways run the whole length of the terminal (so that international arrivals are possible at either gate) and just about totally obscure any view of the ramp. I was, nevertheless, sort of able to watch a 763 load for the 7:20 service to SCL. Around 7:00, the agent called boarding in both English and Spanish. By the time we’d approached the podium, however, she told had changed her mind and told us to take a seat. As Flight 972 was coming in from BRC (Bariloche, Argentina), I entertained myself by looking out the departure lounge at the happening international arrivals area, which consisted of a police officer sitting in his office smoking and reading the paper, a single immigration booth, and two Customs officials with a portable table. As people cleared Customs, the agents walked them individually over to the exit. Eventually, I realized the reason for our delay as 50 or so people with really obnoxious blue slips saying “transfer” emerged from the bowels of PMC and boarded first. It was then time for the non-transfers to board
Operated by LanExpress/ Gringo Air
March 24, 2005
Scheduled Departure: 7:45 PM
Actual Departure: 7:45 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 9:20 PM
Actual Arrival: 9:20 PM
Seat 13K (so I thought…)
We boarded among the first PMC originators and headed for our seats. As the crack above indicates, this flight was also full of Americans, many of whom were availing themselves of the ability to smoke in the terminal before departure (it’s actually illegal but the law is thoroughly unenforced). Upon arriving there, we found two people there already with 13K and 13L stickers on their boarding passes, so we summoned a f/a and stepped into the galley while they resolved the issue. We chatted with the f/a there and watched catering and were soon joined by an LA nonrev. Unfortunately, we missed the candy and newspaper services during this fiasco. Soon enough, the male f/a came back and assigned us 20 K and L and the nonrev 10L (exit row). Load was 105/120
As soon as I sat down in 20K, I realized how narrow the seat was. SA)">DL goes to 5 seats across in the final 2 rows of its 732s, and that is a very good idea. I’m not a big guy, but shoulder room was quite tight. Not long after, the captain made his standard predeparture announcement, and in an unusual move, translated himself. His English was pretty good, and I think he was proud of his ability to speak it. I’ve listened to Channel 9 enough in the States to be able to say that he would be just fine flying to the States. Soon enough, we taxied out to 35 and were quickly off. It was actually fairly clear, and I could see the city of Puerto Montt as we climbed out. Shortly thereafter, the f/as came around with Chilean customs forms. At that point, it became clear that the BRC originators had not officially entered Chile, and so we all would have to clear immigration and customs in SCL. I do not understand why LA did this. Obviously, there were some who needed to make international transfers in SCL, but based on the amount of luggage on the carousel, I would say that the number of PMC originators far outnumbered them, and if entering and leaving Chile was that big a deal for them, they could have simply taken a direct flight up. Anyway, the meal service began quickly as this was not a real long flight. Serving us first as a result of the seating snafu would have, I think, been a classy gesture, but LA did not, so we waited. Happily, they did not run out of food (although they came real close), and we were served some sort of chicken crepe with vegetables, a roll, and the Boston Cream Pie type dessert that was a veteran of my ANF-SCL flight. Food was good, although the f/a dropped my dinner in the aisle. With as hot as the trays are, I’m just glad she dropped it in the aisle instead of in my lap. As I started eating, the captain announced initial descent and, happily, a temperature of 24 degrees in Santiago. They got the service done, but barely. If they’d been delayed by rough air leaving PMC (a very real possibility), I’m not sure what they would have done.
In any event, we descended basically on the runway heading, but as Santiago came in to view, I realized that you cannot land on Runway 35 if you cross Route 68 at 10,000 feet, and indeed, we overflew SCL and turned back for a landing on 17. The descent felt slower than normal with a 732: perhaps the pilot flying had flown or flew another aircraft type, because it really felt like the descent of a larger plane. LA’s pilots seem very skilled as a rule, and the touchdown on 17 was perfect and on time. As is customary with small planes landing on 17, we turned off right at the terminal complex, where I spotted a SA)">DL tail again. We headed for Stand 14A, where the engines were promptly extinguished. Unfortunately, we had to wait for buses to transport us to the terminal.
The ride on the buses was quick and interesting, affording a good view of both operations and several SA)">AA, AM, and LA widebodies. The SA)">DL 763 was just pushing back, but I didn’t catch the registration. Interestingly, SCL appears to lack a centralized bagroom, with bags delivered almost directly to gates. I guess that’s what all the age of the facilities will do for you. We were soon deposited at immigration, which was empty and staffed by one officer. However, an LA minion asked us where we were coming from, and when we told him that we came from within Chile, he waved us right through an empty window. Thanks to the wait for the buses, our bags were circulating at the claim when we arrived, and they had large SAG (agriculture) stickers on them, presumably to indicate that they had not left Chile. A nice enough SAG employee took our declarations, saw the stickers, and sent us on our way. All in all, the trip to the international part of SCL was a colossal waste of time. Happily, the trip home was quick and I was home by 11:00.
And then it was time to return home…. The transfer was supposed to come at 4:45, but he showed up at 5 to convey me to SCL. After 2 stops, we hopped on the lovely new freeway, passed the SA)">DL crew on the way, and arrived at SCL a little after 6. Transvip won my happiness back by calling ahead to check some of the people in the van in (they were running late) and having a guy with change waiting for the bus. The SA)">DL line was shortish but growing, so I hopped in it. I waited maybe fifteen minutes before one of the two security guys called me over for a thorough search of my carryons. He asked me to turn on my computer, which I gladly did. He then pulled out my camera and I asked if I needed to turn it on. He said I could if I wanted to. I politely declined. The checkin agent was nice enough, although he was unable to issue me a boarding pass for the SA)">NW segment (MSP-MDW). Doesn’t reflect too well on Skyteam… Noting stories of lines, I promptly made my way over to immigration.
Immigration was quick and the officer was friendly. The problem was what lay beyond: quite a line for 2 metal detectors. After maybe 20 minutes of shuffling along, talking to a couple of nice Aussies, and listening to frantic calls for AC pax, I found myself at the metal detector which was turned up quite high (I wound up having to take my belt off) and got through. They appeared to be taking a closer look at any electronics of non-US bound pax, although I’m not sure how they differentiated us. On a different note, it appeared that no electronics were allowed to be checked as a friend had to endure SA)">DL pulling her checked bag so she could remove her computer from it. Notice of that before checkin would have been nice. Whatever… Security was a breeze, and I saw that AC 763 pushing back. I wandered around the airport (that’s a good thing to do before a 9 hour flight), and soon we were boarding for:
May 20, 2005
Boeing 767-300 ER
Scheduled Departure: 8:35 PM
Actual Departure: 8:32 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 6:15 AM
Actual Arrival: 6:11 AM
I boarded with Group 7 (that was difficult; the announcements were almost inaudible) and was surprised to not be asked for my passport. However, as we made our way down the ramps to Level 2, I saw my 2 favorite security goons checking passports and (re?)searching some carryons. After that fun, it was on down the jetway to be greeted by the 2 smiling J flight attendants at the door. As I walked past the galley, I smiled at a carton of Chilean orange juice being used for mimosas. I made my way down the aisle and saw the surly 4, who would be our flight attendants for the evening. I took my seat and watched the fun as one of the f/as berated an agent over some minor problem. Even as we pushed back, I knew it was going to be a long night. Load was probably around 80%, although one of the f/as said they had had 48 pax on the way down.
As typically happens at SCL, taxi out to Runway 17 was very quick and once there, we quickly took off. For some reason, we screened the safety video for the 6 door 763s even though we were not on one of SA)">DL’s bastard children this evening. We had received menus before takeoff, and the f/as made a pass with forms for entry into the United States. About 10 miles out of SCL, we made a left turn to head back north, affording my last view of Santiago. I think what struck me was how compact the city was. But then, we turned out over the Pacific, it was gone, and the drink cart was coming. I drank Dasani water which must have been catered from ATL as it’s not sold in Chile (they also had Minute Maid orange juice in the morning). Dinner was next, and we’d again gotten a pre-printed menu. It told us we’d be eating:
Salad: Fresh seasonal greens with cucumbers and carrots, offered with creamy Ranch dressing
Entrée: Pan Roasted Chicken in orange ginger sauce served on a bed of five-spice rice and a medley of stir fried vegetables
Penne Pasta accented by red bell pepper tomato cream sauce served with peas, sautéed onions, and spinach, topped with parmesan cheese
Bread and Butter
Cheese and Crackers
Dessert: Black Forest cake
I had the pasta, and it was pretty good, although I detected no sauce. Still, I had no complaints. The food was again fine on this flight- sometimes on international flights, outstation catering is much worse, but that was not the case here. The flight attendant who served me addressed every passenger in Spanish the whole flight. I look pretty darn American, and I would have thought that my responses in English would have. No flight attendant in Y on this flight was very friendly. Duty free was quick, and the lights were finally extinguished and I tried to sleep. The flight had gotten pretty bumpy by this point. It actually had started getting bumpy as we flew out over the Pacific leaving SCL and the bumps really did not abate. It was a bit surprising. The flight down was very smooth. I had expected the remnants of the hurricane to maybe cause some problems in the middle of the flight, but got much more.
I tried to sleep, but was not so successful. The flight crawled until 2, when I got up to go to the bathroom, and then went pretty fast. Before I knew it, breakfast was being served and the ATL arrival video was being shown. Breakfast had been announced as a bagel, juice, fruit, and a cereal bar. In reality, it was a roll that was kind of like challah, a banana, a Chil