- Australia to South America in Luxury (PER-AKL-PPT-BOB-PPT-SCL-EZE)
- Argentina from Top to Bottom (AEP-IGR-AEP-FTE)
- LAN Around South America (PUQ-PMC-SCL-GIG-SCL-LIM)
- Three Flights in Peru (Nazca Lines + LIM-CUZ-LIM)
At the end of the last report we had arrived back in Lima from Cusco and had 13.5 hours until our late evening flight to Santiago, the start of our journey home. In this report we fly LIM-SCL-IPC-PPT-AKL-PER with LAN and Air New Zealand, some in economy, some in business class.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Lima (Jorge Chávez) (LIM/SPIM) - Santiago (Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez)
Duration: 3h20, 1524mi
Departure: 22:45 (scheduled) 22:45 (actual)
Arrival: 03:05+1 (scheduled) 03:05+1 (actual)
Seats: 23J/L (economy class)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-316/ER CC-CDP
Following our arrival from Cusco that morning (flying TACA) we thought we'd try our luck checking in for this flight over 12 hours before departure. We tried first at the machines but they rejected us - the friendly and helpful staff said we should try at the counter. Checking in was no problem at all, despite being so early and being slightly over the 20kg per person baggage allowance following shopping in Cusco. The whole LAN check-in experience at Lima is very well run. It is fast and there are plenty of staff - quite a contrast to our check-in experiences for other LAN flights.
After that we left some of our hand-luggage behind at the left luggage service, and spent the day seeing the sights of Lima.
Plaza Mayor, Lima
At the end of the day we were in Miraflores, probably the nicest neighbourhood in the city. We found a taxi and agreed on a price to the airport - after a couple of minutes we pulled in to get petrol. Normally this would bother me but we had heaps of time and the journey was a fixed price. After about a minute there was some shouting outside and it seemed they had filled our driver's taxi with diesel! He was quite upset (justifiable considering he's probably lost his income for the whole evening while he sorts this out) but he still took the time to organise a replacement taxi for us and ensure that we weren't going to miss our flight while apologising repeatedly for the problem.
We made it back to the airport in our replacement taxi at 19:45 (and paid 10 soles less than our previously agreed price). We bought a bottle of water (very expensive at 4 soles, compared to the usual street price of 1 sole) and then proceeded into the departures area. First we had to pay the extortionate departure tax - US$30 each, which we had to pay in cash. I was once again left with a lots of change that I couldn't use for anything, because they insist on setting the tax in US dollars rather than their own currency. Why not make it a nice round 85 or 90 soles? Paying airport taxes was the only time in Peru that I encountered the 1 cent coin.
Then it was through immigration and security where the liquids rule is in place, but with a more relaxed interpretation that limits the total amount rather than the individual container size. Our 200mL sunscreen was safe!
Photo © Alejandro Ruiz
Photo © Andres Contador
Strangely that's where my notes end for this flight. I remember we bought something small to eat and waited for our flight to board (via an aerobridge this time I think). We pushed back on time and then I would have tried to get some sleep.
We arrived right on time in Santiago at the unfriendly hour of 03:05, went through immigration, collected our bags, and headed across the road to the Holiday Inn that's located right outside. I'm still not sure whether it was worth having a hotel room for these few hours but at least we managed to get a bit of sleep.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Santiago (Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez) - Easter Island (Mataveri) (IPC/SCIP)
Duration: 5h40, 2336mi
Departure: 09:10 (scheduled) 09:15 (actual)
Arrival: 12:50 (scheduled) 12:35 (actual)
Seats: 22A/C (economy class)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-383/ER CC-CGN
After only a few hours sleep, we forced ourselves to get up and wandered across the road to the airport terminal. There was only a short queue at check-in but while queuing we were offered an upgrade to business class for US$225 each. They could see that we were seriously considering the offer and asked multiple times, and then called us forward to jump the queue and gave us a final chance (which we declined). They must have been oversold in economy. My wife's bag got a priority tag for some reason, but mine didn't. Hmmm.
Photo © Osvaldo Martinez Farias
Waiting by the gate we saw that we had CC-CGN again (same as our GIG-SCL flight, the worst of our 17 flights so far on our South America trip). But it turned out not to be so bad... the in-flight entertainment system was turned on this time, and featured a U2 concert, The Simpons Movie (again!), Everybody Loves Raymond, and something else as well. Shortly after take-off we were served breakfast - I had a fairly plain egg and cheese omelette with tomato on the side, the other option was a warm cheese and ham sandwich. There was a second service on this flight as well, when we were offered a beef and cheese roll not long before we commenced our descent into Easter Island.
Approach into Easter Island
Hanga Roa, main town on the island
180 degree turn at Mataveri Airport
We arrived on time and disembarked via the front and rear stairs. There was a rabble around the luggage carousel as usual, but the bags didn't take too long and shortly after we were on our way to our hotel and an excellent day and a half in one of the most isolated places on earth - great people, great sights, and great food.
More photos of Easter Island
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Easter Island (Mataveri) (IPC/SCIP) - Papeete (Faa'a) (PPT/NTAA)
Duration: 5h55, 2644mi
Departure: 22:25 (scheduled) 22:30 (actual)
Arrival: 23:20 (scheduled) 22:45 (actual)
Seats: 3J/L (business class)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-375/ER CC-CRG
We arrived early and following our experience in Santiago we decided to ask about purchasing an upgrade to business class. Since this was a night flight, we thought it was more worthwhile than it would have been the previous day. We were told we could upgrade for US$300 for the almost 6 hour flight, and we agreed. (It took well over a month for the charge to appear on my credit card - I thought for a while that we might have got away with it for free!). It would be nice if all airlines offered a similar upgrade system, but I can understand why they don't.
Car park at Mataveri Airport
We went through immigration (just a single officer on duty and looking very bored!) and then security - no stupid liquids rule in this part of the world. With only six flights per week departing from Easter Island, there isn't any form of business class lounge. Just padded seats inside the building, and plastic seats outside. Our aircraft arrived at around 21:00 so I took a few photos while there was still enough light.
Our aircraft arriving from SCL
CC-CRG on the tarmac
Boarding was around 22:00 and we were a bit disappointed to find this was one of the non-refurbished 767s. A small consolation is that I can now compare LAN's old and new business class. In contrast to the modern business class seats on the upgraded aircraft that recline to a fully flat bed, these seats seemed to have a lot of padding so they were quite soft. The foot rest was uncomfortable - I'm not super tall but when it was folded down I had to bend my legs slightly, when it was folded up it sat uncomfortably behind my ankles. The headrest was floppy and annoying.
We were offered a pre-departure drink (probably my last pisco sour for a while!) and then pushed back at 22:30, about five minutes late. We taxied down the runway, did a 360 degree turn, and then we were off.
Shortly after take-off the food started to appear. We started with a fairly plain salad with cheese and lettuce and a balsamic vinigar dressing, followed by a nice tender bit of steak for main course with an unexciting sauce (supposedly mushroom, but without much taste). Alternatives were catch of the day (tuna), fresh from Rapa Nui, or gnocchi (my wife had this and said it wasn't particularly good). Dessert was a delicious creme caramel with a little chocolate. I also had a very nice cabernet sauvignon which was flavourful and delicious.
In business class we each had a personal TV with four channels - options on this flight were The Simpsons Movie (yet again - also shown on the main screen) or Nancy Drew or No Reservations or some football movie that I didn't get the name of. After dinner the crew came around with bottles of water for everyone before we got some sleep - I really appreciate little touches like this. I really like the amenities kit also - it's just the usual stuff but it's packaged in a handy fabric bag with a drawstring.
The lights were turned on just before arrival and we came into Tahiti after a shorter than expected 5h23 flight time. Travelling in business class meant that we were one of the first few immigration again (I think I surprised the immigration officer by greeting him with 'iorana'). As we waited for bags we could see the queue growing longer very rapidly! The bags only took about five minutes to come out, we went through the "nothing to declare" aisle and were outside by 23:00.
Unfortunately our early arrival meant we ended up waiting about 20 minutes for our transport to arrive, and then a further delay while we waited for another guest at our guesthouse to decide where he was going to stay the night (he ended up deciding to stay elsewhere with people he'd just met on the flight - very poor form I thought).
Photos from Tahiti
Air New Zealand NZ41
Friday, November 30, 2007
Papeete (Faa'a) (PPT/NTAA) - Auckland (AKL/NZAA)
Duration: 6h05, 2544mi
Departure: 08:00 (scheduled) 08:28 (actual)
Arrival: 13:05+1 (scheduled) 13:20+1 (actual)
Seats: 2A/B (business class)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-319/ER ZK-NCJ
We arrived at Tahiti Faa'a airport pretty early in the morning to find check-in queues of similar lengths for both economy and business class. It took about 15 minutes to get to the front, with an intermediate passport and ticket check to make sure we were in the right place. We were issued with boarding passes through to Perth, and given a lounge invite (we never received one for our PPT-SCL flight on LAN, but found our way into the lounge regardless).
We dropped our bags off at the x-ray machine, then headed through customs and security. We used the last of our coinage to buy chocolate and then went into the lounge, the only air conditioned part of the terminal and therefore very pleasant. There were some breakfast foods on offer, such as cereal and juice and an intermittent supply of pastries. There was also a fantastic view over the tarmac - the island of Moorea in the background, and lots of activity at this time in the morning. There was an Air France 777, our NZ 767 arriving, plenty of Air Tahiti ATR72s and some Air Moorea Twin Otters.
Air Tahiti ATR-72, Air France 777, and Moorea in the background
ZK-NCJ, on the ground at PPT
When we saw people boarding we went downstairs to the gate but weren't allowed to board... after 10 minutes or so business class passengers were allowed through the gate but couldn't proceed onto the aircraft due to a medical evacuation being loaded into seat 4A. The ground staff seemed a bit stressed but kept us informed the whole time - they seemed to be doing everything they could in the circumstances which was appreciated. After a bit of a wait the business class passengers sitting on the other side of the aircraft were allowed on, and finally those of us in A/B seats.
Prior to departure we were offered orange juice, water or champagne. We pushed back about half an hour late and were treated with wonderful views of Moorea and Tahiti as we commenced our climb.
Pre-breakfast drinks were offered - orange juice or a honey and banana smoothie. Then breakfast which was one of the better airline breakfasts I can remember. We started with cereal, yoghurt and fruit, then we had bread and pastries, and finally a choice of french toast with passionfruit, or scrambled egg with salmon, or a cold breakfast of bread, cheese, ham, etc. The egg was really nice.
We had our own little screens (very small!) to watch a choice of movies that were available in business class. Just as well - the Simpsons Movie was on yet again back in economy. We probably could have watched it about eight times on our trip if we felt so inclined. I watched the X-Files Movie for a bit of retro entertainment.
I should mention the cabin crew - we had good experiences with cabin crew on all our business class flights, but on this particular flight they were extra attentive to our needs and happy to engage us and other passengers in conversation. I remember when they pointed out when we were about to cross the International Date Line and might feel a slight bump! Also when handing out immigration cards chatting about our trip and how we should be spending more time in New Zealand. I can't think of any more specifics but they were a level above all our other flights.
About to cross the International Date Line
Crossing the International Date Line
About 90 minutes from our arrival into Auckland we were asked if we wanted anything else, such as a drink, a sandwich, or a piece of cake. I couldn't resist and had a small piece of an excellent chocolate cake.
New Zealand looked beautiful as we crossed the coast and descended into Auckland. I'm really looking forward to going back in May.
Arriving over New Zealand
After landing we had to wait a while for our gate to become available, and then there was a further delay trying to get the aerobridge to attach to deploy correctly. Once inside the terminal we checked for the gate for our flight to Perth, and saw it was boarding in 5 minutes. Now that's cutting things a bit fine...
International terminal at Auckland
Air New Zealand NZ176
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Auckland (AKL/NZAA) - Perth (PER/YPPH)
Duration: 7h35, 3323mi
Departure: 14:05 (scheduled) 14:33 (actual)
Arrival: 17:40 (scheduled) 18:00 (actual)
Seats: 2J/K (business class)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-319/ER ZK-NCI
We had to go through a transit security check which included the stupid liquids rule. The amentities kits that we'd just taken off our flight were apparently fine, but my wife's lip gloss was cause for concern. Slipping it into an amenities kit made everything better though. If there's logic in these rules, I don't know what it is. We then walked to the gate and boarded a few minutes later.
The same welcome drinks were offered as on our previous flight - orange juice, water, or champagne. Pushing back was delayed due to a shortage of ground handlers... there's an excuse I haven't heard before. Prior to taking off we were asked what drinks we would like once we got into the air. That's a nice touch that speeds up the service once we get going. After our departure, it only took a few minutes before we crossed the New Zealand coast and then there were many hours flying over the ocean with nothing to see.
Crossing the New Zealand coastline
Once we had gained some altitude, the drink was served with a snack of olives, sundried tomato, cheese and pepperoni). I was forced to drink pinot noir because they had run out of my first choice - life is tough.
When the in-flight entertainment system was fired up, I was pleased to find a new selection of movies (because we had crossed the International Date Line we were now into December). There was no sign of the Simpsons Movie! I watched Shortcut to Happiness (must have been bad because I can't remember it at all) and Transformers (excellent!).
There was a lunch service shortly after the snack service - Air New Zealand were definitely keeping us well fed! We had an entree of cajun prawns, then fish with potato and brocolli (unfortunately they had run out of the lamb, which was my first choice). For dessert there was apple crumble with dessert wine.
Before arrival into Perth we had yet another meal - it wasn't dinner time so I will call it second lunch. There was fruit to start (orange, melon and pineapple) and then a beef wrap or a chicken panini. I had the panini, which was served with coleslaw. I found this a bit unusual. We had a choice of lamington or friand for dessert plus some chocolates.
We arrived into Perth slightly late due to our late departure and were quickly through immigration (it's always good to be at the front of the queue). We had to show our yellow fever vaccination certificates for the first time on the trip because we had been to Peru in the last 7 days. Once the bags came through we went through customs and declared a heap of things made of wood, as well as various foods. No problems taking any of it through, and they were actually a lot less thorough than on our return from Vietnam the previous year.
Perth International Airport
In business class, LAN's non-upgraded 767s are showing their age and the Air New Zealand 767 business class is superior. The service on Air New Zealand was also more consistent than on LAN, and also seemed friendlier (but perhaps this is due to sharing a common language). However, LAN's upgraded 767s impressed me greatly on the way to South America with a fully flat bed and 17" TV and I would rank them ahead of Air New Zealand. Overall a fantastic trip but it was great to be home. We had flown over 34,000 miles in 23 flights on five airlines and been to many amazing places.
I hope you enjoyed this report - feedback is always welcome! For my next report, we'll have something completely different with a short flight from Jandakot (Perth's general aviation airport) to Cunderdin (156km east of Perth in the wheatbelt region) where I had my first experience in a glider.