I had my reservation made in Sao Paulo with the following schedule:
03-Jan-04 Depart Mexico City 22:15, flight AM14, B767-200, arrive Sao Paulo Guarulhos Terminal 1 on 04 Jan 2004 at 11:55, seat 9F
05-Feb-04 Depart Sao Paulo Guarulhos at 23:50 terminal 1, flight AM15, B767-300, arrive Mexico City on 06 Feb 2004 at 05:25, seat 12F
January 2, 2003
I want to take my bike with me to Sao Paulo, but I know that only 20 kg is the free baggage allowance for AM flights to Sao Paulo. So I called Aeromexico to ask about over-baggage cost. A nice lady let me know that the charge was about 25 US dollars per kilogram. Then I let her know that I wanted to take my bike, and she told me that there is a special charge of 50 US dollars to transport a bike, indepently of your free-allowance, so I decided to pack it and take it to Sao Paulo.
January 3, 2004
It is a nice winter Saturday in Mexico City, the third day of a new year. I am driving to Mexico City International Airport, ready for my flight that will take me back to my temporary work and life in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I spent Christmas and new year in Mexico City with my family and friends. My family and I planned to have dinner in one of the "Wings" restaurants inside MEX, so I arrive almost 3 hours before my departure.
Photo © Jaime Pinto
As soon as I arrived to the airport, I went to check-in in the Aeromexico's counters of the National terminal. I always prefer to check-in in the National counters instead of the International because is faster, and this time was not the exception, there were not many people in line, and my big luggage was not inspected. Once in the counter, I was asked for my ticket and passport for Brazil. I think the lady who attended me was new, because of two reasons:
(1) When she saw the weight of my luggage including the bike she got terrified and said that only 20 kilograms were allowed, so I had to pay over-baggage, then I told her about my call of the previous day. She asked her partner in the next counter and confirmed this. Now she only weight my baggage case (16 kg).
(2)She checked the passport, and I think that she only saw the cancelled tourist visa stamped in my passport, because then she asked if I had a visa for Brazil. I asked her for my passport and showed her the "temporary resident" visa that I have. I think that it was the first time that she saw this kind of visa, and asked me if I had been anytime in Brazil for the last months. I answered "Yes". Then she checked the passport again said that she was going to check it with other person. Meanwhile, she asked me to pay the 50 US dollars charge. I went to other counter and paid the extra-charge, then I went back to the counter, and the lady still was with her partners checking my documents. When she finally came back, I asked her if everything was Ok and she said yes, and let me know that it took time for her to check the previous entrances and exits to Brazil stamped in my passport, and they were asked to do this check for Brazil. Then she gave me my passport, and began to print my boarding ticket, then I remember that I did not have a window seat, I always prefer window seat, so I asked her for a window seat. She nicely changed my boarding pass to have a window sea: 16J. Finally got my boarding pass, and she told me that the flight was delayed, and re-schedule to depart at 23:40 (1 hour and 25 minutes late). Then I went to meet my family to have dinner without any rush. My father told me that he saw an uncle who was also traveling to Sao Paulo, but he was doing check-in in the international terminal. After dinner we walked to the international terminal and said bye. Then I went trough the security revision for the waiting boarding area. Everything was fast and without. I still had to wait for almost two hours, so I called a friend and we talk for about 15 minutes, then my sister called me. Then I was walking for a time, watching the planes, and then I saw a partner who was traveling in the same flight as I. We talked about our Christmas holidays, and our new challenges in Sao Paulo. Then, passengers of an AM flight from Madrid were arriving in the same gate that our flight was scheduled, and we understood the reason of our delay. After a few minutes I saw my uncle approaching to the waiting lounge, and I went to met him and talk with him. It was a surprise that we both were traveling in the same flight to the same destination. AI Wanted to buy a bottle of water and all the stores were closing (23:00 hours). Only one cafeteria was open. I think it is strange that all stores close so early because still there are some flights arriving or departing, even the duty free stores were closing. Finally, we were asked to board. Once in the plane (B767-200 registration XA-TOJ),
Photo © Juan Carlos Guerra Aviation Photography of Mexico
Photo © Alvaro Westby
in the aisle seat next to me, there was a guy who said something to other passenger and I noticed his particular accent, so I ask him "Are you Regio", and he proudly said "Yes". So we began to talk. Actually, I am not the kind of person who likes talking to strangers in the plane, that is one of the reasons why I prefer window seat, I prefer watching the clouds than talking with someone. But this time, I was not going to see many things in the window because of the time, and the guy said "It was going to be a long time, is not it?", I said "Yes, it is a 9:00 hours flight", he said "9 hours? It is long!", and I changed the time in my watch in order to get costumed to Sao Paulo time (4 hours ahead of Mexico City). The guy told me that he was a member of a music band, he had a friend in Sao Paulo and was going on vacations, it was his first flight to Brazil and he expected to meet nice girls there, just like his friend who met a girl from Brazil and married her, I said that he was going to love Brazil. The plane took off on-time and hear the captain confirmed the duration of the flight (9 hours), and the current weather in Sao Paulo: cloudy skies with 25 Celsius grades. We were served dinner and drinks (At this time of the trip, the day has changed and now is January 4th, 2004). I asked for the chicken and the guy asked for the pasta. As usually, after dinner the F/A offered more wine, then kahlua or amareto liquors, and coffee. After dinner the first movie started, this time I preferred to sleep. I woke up when the second film was on the screens but I slept again. I woke up when breakfast was being served: Fruit, orange juice, bred and coffee. Now we were flying over Brazilian territory, but still more than 1 hours left for our landing. After breakfast, the immigration and custom procedures where showed on the screen. The guy asked me how to fill the forms, and he also asked me if the luggage was checked in Sao Paulo, he was wondered because he had some food for his friend (dry-beef, cheese, hot sauces, etc), I said "Do not worry". Then, he wanted an intensive course of Portuguese because he began to asked me how to say some basic words and phrases, like "good morning", "thanks", "nice to meet you", "how are you doing", etc. For the first time, I was able to see Sao Paulo from the airplane, even that it was a little foggy.
Photo © Juliano M. Bergmann
I really liked the view of Sao Paulo and its huge amount of buildings, but I was not able to recognize any specific building from the plane, but saw the Marginal Pinheiros Avenue and in the last seconds before touching, the Carvalhio Pinto highway and the the Cesars Park hotel. The touching of the plane on the runway was rough, and we jumped. Once in GRU taxing to the terminal, I was able to see Varig planes, Continental, American, Air France, Iberia, Swiss and only one B747 from JAL.
Photo © Paulo Rudolf Herren
Photo © Daniel R Carneiro
We left the plane and said bye to the guy, and he answered "Prazer em conhecer-lo" which means "Nice to meet you", using what he learnt at 30000 meters altitude, and went to Immigration, I do not like the style of the GRU terminal when arriving, it looks dark and old, they have to re-new the restrooms urgently
Photo © Nelson Antoine
. While in the line for immigration, an agent ask if there was any American Citizen, because they have to follow the process of identification of Americans ordered by a Brazilian court. It was in reciprocity to the requirement of the US Immigration authorities to record a profile of Brazilian citizen (among other nationalities). The problem is, that the Brazil immigration authorities were not prepared to execute this order, so you can see an improvised area to register and take pictures of the Americans arriving at GRU. After immigration I went to pick my luggage including my bike safely arrived to Brazil. I said bye to my uncle and went to take my taxi. By the way, I am living close to Cogonhas Airport where I have a wonderful view of the runway and the terminal.
Hope you liked my report, I will write the return trip to MEX. It is scheduled for February the 5th, but I think I am going to change it.