although this odyssey lies some years behind, I thought I'd share it with you.
Photo © Sebastian Popovsky
It was January 14th 1998 when I found myself at Santiago airport (SCL) in Chile bound for Frankfurt/germany. I was in the check in row and was upset to leave this beautifull country behind after 4 great weeks with my relatives there, chilling on beaches, planespotting..., it was 10am and the departure time was something around 2pm, I checked in and everything went smooth as always on LH checkin counters, I had little overweight wiht my baggage being 26kg instead of the allowed 20 kg, but showing my Miles & more card solved the problem with a smile .
Well, check-in was over, I had only my photobag, my backpack and a small travel bag with me. I switched over to the observation desk to see my Lufthansa B744 wich I would board soon, but couldn't see her. Should be OK I thought to myself and stepped back in the well climated "cool" terminal, a very new "glass temple" being constructed in the 1990's. I sat down at the waiting area as I was an hour "before schedule" and had plenty of time before entering the transit and boarding areas. Good for me because some 30 mintes later I checked back for our Boeing 747-430 and became sceptic as the bird should have arrived from Buenos Aires Ezeiza at 11pm, unloading passengers, (3 hours turnaround and carrying us back to FRA via EZE) and now it was something around noon. I thought about delay and walked over to the LH counters for information. I got the information that a Varig truck at Ezeiza hit our plane that hard that it was grounded immediately due to heavy fuselage damages (Thanks to the truck driver ).
Well, I had the choice to stay at Santiago Hilton (a 5***** Hotel, the best and newest Hilton in South america) or take a heavy rerouting via Lima, Aruba, Amsterdam and Bruxelles. For me the choice was clear
I was guided to the Lufthansa offices where I called my parents and described them the situation and I would call them when I arrive at FRA the next days evening. Then I went to the baggage claim where we got our luggage back, followed by the pick up of my new ticket (hand written)
the schedule was as follows:
UA972 SCL-LIM B752
KL742 LIM-AMS MD11 stopover at Aruba
Sabena AMS-BRU B733
Sabena BRU-FRA ARJ
Well, I walked over to the UAL counters were I checked in again! everything went smooth and I found myself in the boarding area at United. From the transit area the whole ramp is visible and I spotted our United 752 N588UA.
Photo © Jan Mogren
was aware that the youth-team of Borussia Dortmund, a famous german soccer club was also on board (they also got rerouted). they had a qualification game for the international youth soccer championship. Finaly at 5.50pm boarding began. I was seated 26D, but switchedn over to a free window seat 27A next to one of the soccer players. we shared some chewing gum and had some chatter.
Push back and taxi to runway was smooth, so was lift off. I catched the last immpresions of Chile and it was a very sentimental moment. The sun set down as we headed for Lima flying along the chilean coastline and over the ocean. The 757 in my eyes is an ugly plabne inside, I dunno why but i don't like it. We had the well known unfriendly and rude UAL stewardesses and meal was "standard, as always". Night came as we were inbound for LIM. Our approach to Lima was cool as we sircled the city many times with the coastline being clearly visible (it was there where the light ended appruptly ..
I fetched all my handluggage and stepped on the gangway and onto the ramp. I thought there must be an engine running somewhere with it's exhaust in our direction as it was that damn hot I couldn't belive it!! I never expirinced such a heat before. Humidity was in the lower 90%, I didn't asked for the temperature! The t-shirt got wet from the head and humidity, not from the sweat!!
We moved over the ramp and into the Lima-transit area, wich was like a bunker with no windows and thick walls. We moved over to the KLM boarding counter where the staff was very surprised about the additional passengers, causing us to wait over an hour more then planed! We were told they didn't know how to handle us rerouted pax as they are not very familiar with the computers.
We finally moved up the gangway to our cool (in double sense ) KLM MD-11 PH-KCH.
Photo © Adrian Falconer
imagine that picture at nighttime that it was ...
It was great to see the AC working on 100% power! I searched my seat and was surprised to see he best seat in economy class being mine! 9K 1st row window seat with plenty of space for the legs. after I stowed away my handluggage I moved over to the toilet and refreched myself with a new T-shirt I had in my luggage by chance! We were welcomed in dutch english spanish and german!! that was pretty cool in my eyes! The KLM crew was convinced "that our rerouted Lufthansa passengers will enjoy their flight with KLM"
Puchbakc began and we taxied to our runway passing many stored and scrapped B727, AN24 .... , although it was dark I was able to watch them as there was a lighted road passing next to the airport illuminating the scrap area.
Liftoff was smooth and I was impressed by the power of the MD-11! Flight to Aruba was great, I read a little bit, had chatter with my seat-neighbours and listened to some music channels.
Stopover at the caribbean paradise of Aruba after 2.5 hours flight from Lima (during night :-( ) we deboarded via gangway and ramp and were free to either stay in the transit hall or on th ramp!! Me along with some boys of the soccer team moved over to an Air Aruba MD-80 where we looked everything on the gear, wings ... never expearienced such "freedom" on any other airport, we also had a depp look into our MD-11 engines.
Then we entered our plane again, and taxied with the airport perimeter road in sight where I had a last look on the nightlife at Aruba, (can't remember exactly what I saw) and off we went to Amsterdam. That was one of the best flights I ever had, gorgeous stewardesses, better than normal meals, relaxing seats, really, COOOL!
I like this "nightfly" feeling, when you are in the dark somewhere between earth and space, the cabin is quiet, the only voice is the AC and the engines, you feel comfortable and protected, listen to cool music in the nearly dark cabin ... I really like that feeling. But it nearly can be beaten by sunrise over the atlantic. The whole plane seems to wake up, there is this superbright, unaltered sunlight that nearly burns your skin!
Day was short
Photo © Vidar Giljebrekke
and as we passed the british coastline the eneving was ready to approach.
Photo © Pekka Lehtinen
(I sat at the other (starboard, right) side of the plane)
The transatlantic-flight was followed by a smooth
touchdown at Schiphol the early evening. We taxied to our far away KLM gate where we disboarded and said goodbye to each other.
Photo © David Unsworth
I searched my way to Schiphol plaza (?) to change money and call my parents. I wandered through some duty free shops to spend the money I had over after the phonecall, followed by a search for the Sabena gate and my flight to Bruxelles. My hand baggage was scanned 3 times during my walk through the transit area, but neither they checked my passport nor my ticket. I found my gate but found it closed, we had to wait another 20 minutes untill they opened the waitning area. I suddenly was aware that I as booked on a Sabeny flight to Bruxelles at 22:30, the gate was open for the 19:30 flight. Well, I had plenty of time to spend and wandered throught the terminal. Untill I passed along a Lufthansa gate where ther was a flight at 21:00. I moved to the boarding counter and declared my situation (finally somenone I could speak in german to ). They saw I was tired and was booked on a businnes class seat I could take if the flight was not full due to those passengers who change their plans aor sho up late at checkin. unfortunately the flight was overbooked. and after boarding I was left alone at the boarding counter. I guess they saw my dispair (I was a Lufthansa passenger (SCL-EZE-FRA) with frequent traveller Miles & More card ) and asked me if I would like to sit on the jump seat. OF COURSE I WOULD!!!!
My heavy travel bag was put into the gargo compartment and I boarded the Lufthansa 735. I was welcomed by the pilots and got safety and oxygen mask instructions. Taxying during night on airports is great, but nothing can beet linign up on a illuminated runway at night!! All the bright lights are just stunning.
Photo © Jorgos Tsambikakis
Same with the approach into FRA (after a short nightflight were I had little chatter with the cockpit-crew due to heavy traffic in the airspace. I had headphones on and listened to "non stop" ATC talks with KLM, "speedbirds", Air France, many more and us on the frequency.) There was this bright "sea" of lights in front of (FRA) and right beside us (Frankfurt City).
We had an OPP and left the plane via Bus to the terminal. It was a funny sight to see all the businnesmans in there serious dresses and me in pullover and camel-boots. And it twas damn cold with snow to fall soon.
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
I left the terminal was fetched up by my family and headed home to take some desperately needed sleep.
Sad thing was that there was a strike of the baggage staff at Amsterdam, that was over the next day when I had to go back to FRA to pickup my luggage. (Although they were booked via Bruxelles, due to me "checking in" at the LH transit counter at Amsterdam, there routing changed, it was not due to me skipping Bruxelles!)
Hope you enjoyed that trip report, and please excuse my ba english.