After a lot of waiting, the time for visiting Easter Island had come. We (me and my family) got a pretty good deal with our LanPass kilometres in LAN's "El Revuelo" promotion. This means that we needed just 25.000 kms for a free ticket to Easter Island instead of the normal 50.000, so after having got the tickets back in october, march 7th had arrived.
March 7th, 2007
Boeing 767-300 ER
Pax load: Economy completely full, Business Premiere had 8 seats left.
Flight time: 5:00 hrs
Planned departure time: 9:25 AM
Actual departure time: 9:55 AM
So, we woke up pretty early, it was still dark when the taxi came to our house, and after 30 minutes by highway we arrived at SCL
. It was dull, foggy and cold, not very normal as it is still summer down here. Check in was quick as we had made online check in. Just drop your bags and go. We headed to the Domestic departures area which is kind of boring as there is no duty free. At our gate there was a LAN A319 to Balmaceda (chilean Patagonia) waiting to be loaded. Time was passing by, pretty much traffic (3 GOL 737s, 4 LAN A320s, 2 Sky Airline 737s, 3 LAN 767s) passed by but weather conditions didn't help for spotting. And the A320 at our gate was still there.
Finally, after being loaded late, the A320 left and our gorgeous 767 came in. It is pretty weird to see a 767 in a domestic gate, surrounded by small birds.
Boarding began, with lots of britons, french, germans and north americans taking this flight. It is great to see people from far away coming down here and going to our remote polynesian territory.
At the aircraft's door, two newspapers to choose, and stupidly, I chose El Mercurio, which is the main national newspaper. Pretty good, but its format is so big that its not comfortable to read when flying.
View of the new 767 configuration that LAN is implementing. The difference with the old configuration is amazing.
View from my window (seat 27 L), sitting at the gate
Pilot announcement came, he apologized of our late departure and stated that our flight would last 5 hrs instead of the priorly estimated 5hrs20mins.
Then came push back, and as we taxied parallel to runway 17L/35R I saw Aeromexico's 767 landing and Air Canada's 767 taking off to EZE
Position and hold
Taking off. As dull as it can get
The take off roll was long, as for this flight the plane is loaded for a 10 hour flight (is something happens at Easter Island's runway, the plane has no other choice than heading back to Santiago)
Over the Pacific Ocean
Breakfast service consisted of an omelette with sausages and some sort of tomato sauce, pretty good, plus coffee/tea/milk, orange or apple juice, warm bread with butter and apricot marmalade and a small cup with peaches in "almíbar"->that dense water/sugar milk I don't know how to translate.
After breakfast, the flight got pretty bumpy. Maybe the bumpiest I've ever experienced. Even though I trust a 100% 767s it makes you feel a little awkward being in the middle of nowhere, over the South Pacific, with no other planes 3000 kms around in a moderate turbulence. This lasted almost half an hour.
LAN's IFE in this newly configurated 767 is superb (not being biased here). Several blockbuster movies like Casino Royale, The Queen, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Departed, plus a bunnch of other movies. The complete first season of 24, 7 Friends episodes, Everybody loves Raymond, Everybody Hates Chris, The Simpsons, etc. Plus games, 300 music albums to choose...it is close to perfection.
One hour before landing, a sandwich and drink are served which was good.
Getting closer to the island
And finally, WE CAN SEE
Now please somebody correct me if I'm wrong. I'm used to feel the power of thrust reversers when landing.This time I heard them, but almost no backthrust was felt...and then a quite strong wheel braking came. Does any of you know if this is normal and I'm being exaggerated?
Well, then it is time to unload the plane, and the humid-warm air hits you.
As you may not know, Easter Island is the only place with a close to Tropical weather Chile has, so it is quite an adventure for us chileans to experience this slap in the face.
Almost everybody takes a picture of themselves and the plane in the back when arriving to Mataveri International Airport.
Iorana means welcome in Rapa Nui language
This bird sculpture represents the Manutara, which is a native Easter Island seagull, and is the name given to the first flight that arrived in the Island, a Chilean Air Force Catalina
After an amazing one week stay at this gorgeous and interesting island (i'd love to show pictures but I don't know if it is the right place) it was time to go back to normal life in the capital city.
March 14th, 2007
Boeing 767-300 ER
Pax load: Economy had some 10 spare seats, don't know about Business as I boarded through the rear
Flight time: 4:40 hrs
Planned departure time: 12:20 PM
Actual departure time: 12:30 PM
Even though for domestic flights in Chile you only have to be one hour prior to departure, Easter Island is special, and you need 2 hours for the process. Maybe because it is such a small airport, where security bag checking is almost a "do it yourself" operation:
Eventhough security looks relaxed, it is pretty tight, especially concerning agropecuary elements that are forbidden to take into continental Chile
The airport has indoor and outdoor waiting and boarding areas
In the outdoor boarding area there is a small plaque remembering the agreement made by the Chilean government and the United States government in order to make Mataveri's runway able to receive the NASA's space shuttle in case of an emergency landing
A strange visitor: a Starquest Expeditions 757 (G-MONJ) that came a day earlier from Cusco and Washington, and leaving to Samoa, Australia, Cambodia, Tanzania, Morocco and back to Washington. The trip costs 49.000 US$
Finally, our plane coming from Santiago arrives, and it is CC
-CWN, the same that brought us here
Boarding is the same that deboarding in Easter Island. Everybody takes pictures of the plane, and which model could pose better than a gorgeus 767?
Once boarding was finished, a SAG (Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero:Agriculture and Cattle Service, roughly translated) lady came in and passed applying insecticide through the aisles for two reasons. There is a small plant parasite in the island, which if brought by accident to the continent, could easily harm all vineyards. And, there have been some isolated cases of Dengue virus, so everything has to be fumigated.
And then, take off:
I got pretty emotional when leaving the island as I really loved it. Plus the fact that for us chileans it is quite expensive, so it is almost a "once in a lifetime" visit First the ticket, and buying everything there costs twice or thrice what it costs in continental Chile, so most people, when they can afford to travel, go everywhere else rather than Easter Island. But I will surely go back some day again.
The service in this flight was a little poorer than the SCL
-IPC flight as, as I later knew, that the crew does not stay at the Island, instead, they come inmediately back to Santiago.
Food was good though, a lunch service with choice between Turkey with mashed potatoes o Cappeletti (Sp?). I chose the latter which were delicious. This was accompanied by a mix salad, warm bread (LAN's trademark) with butter and some sort of tiramisu for dessert. White and Red wine, sodas, juices, whisky, rum and vodka were offered for drinking.
Sunset begins as we get closer to chilean coast
Turning south towards SCL
As a LAN review, i would give the airline a 9 out of 10. As you may read my nickname, it is my favourite airline. Although I know people have been disappointed by it, I have never had any bad experience with them, only great ones.
FAs on the flight back were not very smiley but the food, IFE and plane itself are superb.
And the Island, PLEASE visit it some day. It's history and archaeology are extremely interesting, the landscapes in some parts resemble Ireland and some others Brazil, ans Anakena beach, with palms and warm water is superb.
Hope you liked it