SCL-IPC (Easter Island)
Flight time: 4:40
It has always been a dream of mine to go to Easter Island. Ever since I had heard it was (one of) the remotest airport(s) in the world. Only one airline services this island and that is the airline of its mother country Chili: LAN. The nearest airport is approximately 2431 miles from here. Makes me wonder what a 2 engined propeller plane is doing at the airport...
I had to leave Santiago early. The big disadvantage of being on an old paper RTW ticket is that you are often unable to check in online. Check in with LAN is notoriously chaotic, even at their home airport. To avoid all this I tried to have my ticket changed to an e-ticket. That was too difficult and after talking to LAN, LAN, BA-MRU, BA-USA and BA-RTW-USA desk I decided too much could go wrong. Paper it would remain.
Upon arrival at the airport my worst fears materialized. Queues longer than I had ever seen before and no dedicated business or first check in. They had several dedicated staff travel desks, but not a business one. Turns out you just have to talk to one of the guys that are walking around and they will help you jump the queue. Silly system though. I wonder if there were business class passengers unaware of this system in line...
So all in all check in went smoothly. After 10 minutes I was on my way to the Domestic Terminal. The IPC flight can be either just IPC or onwards to Papeete. If the latter is the case the flight will board from both terminals. That is why it is at the end of the Domestic (and thus also the end of the International) Terminal. This time the flight would go SCL-IPC and back.
Santiago airport is very, very boring. At the domestic terminal there is no lounge. Best place to hang out is behind the Starbucks where the good seats are. Try and get one there if you have a long wait.
For the rest there is not much to do. You can do some decent spotting, but since you are the domestic terminal you will see LAN, LAN and more LAN. Seeing how you guys like planes, here are some shots.
Apparently an MD11 is the biggest they get
The view of my own plane to IPC (a 767) was not great. I managed only a few shots. I did notice how spotless almost all LAN planes look. These guys take some serious care of their hardware. I like that.
Also I saw this strange 737 with no noticeable markings (or windows). Did the CIA resume their flights or is there a less 'conspiracy theory explanation'? Who knows?
The only other airline I saw
At this airport too there was the same VIP lounge as at PMC. Maybe if you do a lot of domestic travel in Chili it is worth looking into ways to get access, although they do not look extremely inviting, I must say.
Lower level departure area
Boarding started exactly on time. So far my experiences are pretty good with LAN. I was first in line, hoping to get some pristine shots of the cabin. Unfortunately everybody was on board quicker that I could get my camera out but still I managed some detailed shots of the cabin.
The seats are excellent. The best Business Class seat I have ever experienced. The only advantage BA has is that their layout gives you much more privacy. The LAN seat itself is much more comfortable, especially in fully flat mode. The only problem is that you cannot adjust your seat when the tray table is out...
The video screens are enormous and the selection is not half bad either.
Also there is a very good power socket. How come BA cannot think of something this logical?
The only minus was that the little 'glove compartment' on the bottom of the seat in front of me was broken and kept falling. I put my stuff in there (at the request of the FA) but had to stop it from opening and the same stuff falling out during take off.
Before take off the LAN crew always changes in to different attire. This is them inspecting the cabin and obviously the strange man with the camera...
What they should have been eyeballing is the passenger who put his seat in fully flat mode during takeoff. He was asleep before the wheels left the ground. Ah well, gave me a chance to show the seat in fully flat position.
Takeoff from SCL is spectacular to say the least. Unfortunately we headed away from the Andes in the direction of the Pacific. Still managed some nice shots...
Although Easter Island is the most remote airport in the world it's still only a short 4,5 hour flight. They menu was very unimpressive. If LAN fails me on one point (so far) it is their food.
The very boring and bland 'Fresh Omelette (?)'
The unanounced sandwiches. They were stale and tasteless.
Between the Omelette and the sandwiches I managed a good 3 hours sleep. I wasn't tired but the seat really was that comfortable. Nice blanket and nice pillows. Unfortunately I failed to take a picture.
Decent into IPC was impressive. There were some very nice cloud formations.
The first look at the island exposed a more rugged coastline than I expected.
The runway is (like most of you will know) also used as a back up for space shuttle landings. I was expecting all kinds of special stations but nothing. Only a small NASA center somewhere near the airport. We taxied to what could conceivably be called an airport and disembarked to the tarmac. Bo buses, nobody to tell us where to go: complete freedom to walk around.
The plane comes to its right here and I have proof!
The airport is (of course) very small. There is an actual belt...
I had only carry on, so I was outside in no time. My host for the next 4 days had mistakenly assumed I was on the night flight but since everybody know everybody here that was soon sorted. I was taken on a quick tour of the 'town' by the assistant of the owner of the cabin I stay in. She is the living proof you can take a girl out of New York but you can not take New York out of a girl... She is fantastic but still on NYC energy.
Easter Island is a strange place. Unlike anything I have ever seen before. When I was here 2 days I was so bored that I changed my flight out to 1 day earlier. I more or less regret that now... Easter Island will grow on you, but you need to un-haste first. The people are fantastic and the scenery is very varied for such a small island.
Although the French restaurant at the harbour (La Taverne du Pecheur) comes highly recommended by some I find the reputation to be very undeserved. Honestly the worst food I ever tasted and the crème brulee should be reason enough to throw the arrogant prick who owns the place of the island.
The big surprise was the only Japanese 'restaurant' on the island Izakaya Kotaro. It is run by a Chilean guy who was trained in Japan for 10 years. His sushi is good, his other food to die for. You can look it up at www.izakayakotaro.blogspot.com. Cool place!
The new love of my life!
Tomorrow I leave for LAX via SCL and Lima. A long travel day of 20 hours or more. I hope my flight out of IPC isn't delayed since I have less than 2 hours to transfer. I will keep you informed in my next TR.
As always: feedback is very much appreciated. I hope you enjoyed the detailed report on LAN Business and the pictures of Easter Island. Thanks for reading!