Part 2: South American escapades - Over to Torres Del Paine and back Video Report LATAM - LA293 - Santiago to Punta Arenas - A321-200SKY Airline - H2002 - Punta Arenas to Santiago - Airbus 319-100
This is Part 2 of the 5 part series:
1. Part 1: South American escapades - On BA's Longest flight to Santiago
2. Domestic Chile - Santiago to Punta Arenas and back
3. Chile to Peru - On Sky Airlines
4. Domestic Peru - Lima to Cuzco, Juliaca and back
5. Return back to London (Gatwick) on Shoddy/Disappointing/Hopefully never again Air Europa on B787-8 and B737-800.
Our next leg of the itinerary would take us to the beautiful Torres Del Paine national Park. For that we needed to get to Punta Arenas which was the nearest airport.
At the time of research, there were 5 daily flights from Santiago. The 11 AM flight by LATAM seemed the best bet for us.
There was also availability on BA to use Avios. A mere 10K points + £8.5 in taxes (per passenger). It was a no brainer.
3 months before the flight, got an email about the time change. I was expecting this, due to the time change in Chile and the resent change of other flight timings. Punta Arenas area time does not change, whereas the rest of Chile the time changes on the 7th April
For the return, we needed to get to Lima. Looking at various options, the best one I had was to get from Punta Arenas to Santiago on the 18th evening, overnight at Santiago and then an early morning/noon flight to Lima.
Sky Airlines was the best option for the 18th evening, read morning.
Similar to LATAM, 3 months before the flight, we got an email with amended timing. New timing was for 12:55 noon and reaching Santiago at 15:10, in the afternoon. This was due to the time change in Chile. Punta Arenas area time does not change, whereas the rest of Chile the time changes on the 7th April
Thanks to GC Maps, route for our trip:LATAM Chile - LA293
Route: SCL - PUQ
Flight Reg:CC-BEN; Delivered to LATAM Chile on Aug 2016
Aircraft Type: Airbus 321-200
Flight time: 11:20 - 15:41 (11:47 - 15:48) 11:27 - 14:49
Actual flight time: 3 Hr 01 min
Distance: 1354 Miles
Load:100 % load
15th April 2019
Booking details: Used Avios redemption. 20K points + £17 in taxes for 2 tickets including 1 check in bag each
My Log book: 1st Flight on LATAM Chile/ 13th flight on Airbus 321 / 203rd Total overall flight
Seat selection was charged for and OCI opens 48 hours before travel.
Checked in online 2 days prior to the flight. The process was straight forward, however, I was not able to choose seats free of charge. I was assigned a seat and any changes incurred an additional charge, no matter which other seat I had chosen.
Day of the flight dropped car off and reached the airport by 0915.
Dropping the rental can off at SCL
The airport was relatively less busy except for the LATAM desks. Which had the most traffic.
Bag drop took 15 minutes and was efficient. A full flight was told to me when I asked if I could amend my seats.
Security was quick too and didn't even have to remove my laptop from my backpack. Air side in 30 minutes after dropping the car off.
SCL Departures terminal
Check in desks for LATAM
Not too busy at SCL at this time of the day
Heading towards domestic security and departure gates
Domestic departures airside
The domestic terminal is in need of some TLC. Looks a bit dated and not much to do or places to sit and relax. It lacks any decent places to eat with the only options being a McDonald's and a Starbucks. Of course!
Boarding commenced at 10 40 and we were boarded by 1055. Boarding by the position of seat, although a good concept, wasn't strictly followed.
Heading towards our boarding gates
LATAM board passengers based on their seat location -> Aisle, middle or window
There is our ride to Punta Arenas
This was tempting, but did not try it
An awesomely rare 38 year old B737-200! Check out its history here... First impressions
The crew on board seemed friendly and had a smile on their face. Cabin temperature was comfortable and the aircraft looked clean. The grey and red interiors looked smart.
Boarding completed only by 1115 and disembarked at 1125. Flight time of 3 hour and 5 minutes announced.
Onboard LATAM's A321
Acceptable seats and seat pitch
Reading on board
Racing a LATAM B767 Cargo during taxiing
Entertainment was via streamed data on this flight. You could either access it via the latamplay app or logon to http://latamplay
to access the content. The content available was fairly extensive and ideal for a 3 hour flight.
Food and beverage started an hour after take-off. Snacks and beverages were paid for. A combo of beer and lays crisps coated 5000 Chilean peso.
The views en-route were breath-taking. Especially with no clouds in the vicinity.
Checking out LATAM Play -> Worked a charm and was very effective in whiling away 3 hours
Gorgeous views of the Andes en-route
The entertainment worked well for the entire duration of the flight. The only issue was it did not recognise when I had stopped a movie if I exited to go back into the app. Which meant I had to scan back to where I had last left the movie. Apart from that it was ace.
Crew on this flight were efficient and did their job well.
Rest of the flight was uneventful and landed on time.
We might have overdone the snacking
Toilets meant for minions
Approaching Punta Arenas
Once landed bags arrived swiftly. But car rental took for ages. Looked like everyone had only hired from Europcar. Took us nearly 2 hours to get the car!!!!
At Punta Arenas (PUQ), the gateway for the famous Torres Del Paine NP
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED: Never hire your car at PUQ from Europcar! Most certainly the most incompetent bunch of representatives behind the counter! 2 hours to serve this short queue of people! Ridiculous! Conveniently, Europcar did not send me an email reminder for feedback, but have sent me one for my other car rental in Santiago!
Exiting the airportSights around Torres Del Paine during our 3 day visit to the region
Our ride in Torres Del Paine -> did the job well. A very nimble vehicle, albeit a bit unstable in motorways
The Magical Torres Del Paine
Lago Grey glaciers
The vehicle worked hard for the past 3 days -> 960 KM in 3 days Return Trip Sky Airline - H2 002
Route: PUQ - SCL
Delivered to Sky Airline on May 2015; 29/06/2007- Skybus - N553SX - Ceased operations 05 April 08; Stored as EI-EAF; 29/07/2008 - Koral Blu - SU-KBB - Stored 03/2011 as EI-EAF
21/07/2011 - Tatarstan Air - VQ-BMM Stored 12/2013
Aircraft Type: Airbus 319-100
Flight time: 12:55 - 15:20 (14:01 - 15:58) 13:50 - 17:10 ()
Actual flight time: 2 Hr 57 min
Distance: 1354 Miles
Load: ~100% load
18th April 2019
Booking details: Online purchase failed as my card kept getting declined. I ended buying the ticket using the same card, but had to call customer service (Chile) and it was done over the phone in 15 minutes. Total cost of $220 (for 2 passengers) including 1 checked in bag each. There was no price difference between the online purchase and the price over the phone. Total cost of phone charge was £2.50. Very helpful and courteous agent on the phone.
My Log book: 1st Flight on SKY Airline/ 12th flight on Airbus 319-100 / 204th Total overall flight
Online check in opened 2 days before the flight. Process was simple, but yet again, seat election was paid for unless automatic selection. I rolled the dice and went for auto select and check in done in 2 minutes.
Unfortunately, once the boarding pass got sent, that is when it became evident that my wife and I got Seat 22B and 21B respectively! Ala Ryanair! Separating passengers on the same PNR for not buying paid for seats. I shall try my luck at the airport.
Back at the hotel, in the evening, I tried again to no avail. Tried calling the Sky customer service and was promptly put through a very helpful agent. He was kind enough to help me get 17A and B for a total of $9. But again, after numerous tries, it was just not accepting my credit card. The agent told me that he would block these seats for us and can pay the balance at the airport upon checking in. Once again, it looks like for domestic Chile travel, the Sky Airline website only seem to accept a local credit card. This is my guess, given that I was able to book my flight to Lima with no issues, using my UK credit card.
So far, the agents over the phone have been very helpful, but their website experience has been dreadful.
Day of the flight was a quick 2.5 hour drive from Puerto Natales.
Dropped the car off and then began the long winded process to pay the $9.06 charge for sear change. Took over 30 minutes to sort it out!! A couple of tries with charging me with Chilean peso. But for some reason that is not the right way. Finally charged me with US dollars. And that worked. But since I have paid, it takes 10 minutes to reflect in their system, apparently. It was a painful process and all because I was going it right by allowing them to charge me for a seat change so that we could sit together.
I think what's happened is the agent the previous night has blocked my ticket until funds have been paid. Then at the counter the agent tried to charge in peso but her system wasn't accepting it since the charge owed was in usd. Finally she got this and the payment was done. But it needed 10 minutes or so to refresh that my booking was indeed valid.
At the end of it I didn't even get 17 A. Instead got one of their preferential seats at row 5. In fact the agent didn't even know what the charge was for. She thought it was some taxes. I could've easily asked them to amend seats free of charge for us to sit together. My bad! I thought they'd be ala Ryanair and be pedantic about seat changes. This is Chile. Everything is possible. Just relax!
SKY Check in Counters
Not something that you see every day -> Antarctic Airways
After a painfully slow check in process, heading towards security
Security was kind of non-existent and over in a few seconds.
Nothing much to do in the air side of Punta arenas airport.
Boarding commenced at 12 55 but the aircraft had not even arrived! What was the point? They just made everyone wait at the aerobridge. I avoided it, even though they had asked me to board. We just waited in the lounge area.
Airside at PUQ
Boarding gates at PUQ -> Strict enforcing of cabin bag sized was being propagated
Our ride to Santiago, just arriving from there
They seem to have won some awards!
Finally we boarded by 1340 and disembarked at 1350, nearly an hour behind schedule. First impressions
The aisle seemed unusually wide. It had a wooden decking and it looked unique. Understandably, the seats were narrower. And the leg space minuscule. I reckon 3 hours would be the absolute maximum I could stay in this seat.
We were welcomed by the smiling 3 of 4 member crew.
View from Row 5
Reading on board
The flight was almost full with a few scattered empty seats. I'd reckon the load would be around 150 out of a total of capacity of 156 passengers.
During the flight the captain explained that the late departure of this flight was due to the aircraft needing a change of tyre in the morning from Santiago.
Departing from Punta Arenas
Optimise Process? Which process has been optimised yet?
The crew didn't start the food and round service until an hour and 15 minutes into the flight. There was paid for food and drinks available. Had some drinks with the nachos I had bought on board.
The flight do not even provide free drinking water and has to be paid for. Although I did ask and she gave the first cup for free since she was hesitant to speak in English. For the second one she mustered the courage to let me know that water has to be paid for
Old Skool toilets; looks dated but at least human size
Paid for snacks
2.5 hours later, Approaching Santiago
Rest of the flight was uneventful. Landed 40 minutes behind schedule.
Out of the airport by 4 25 PM.
Exiting through the same gates we entered from, 3 days ago
Exiting the airport Verdict
LATAM was quite a polished product. Their own board service, hard product, IFE on board was just a lot better than SKY. I liked their boarding process by type of seat and overall was a very good experience. In line with being the largest South American carrier.
SKY on the other hand was mediocre at best. Their website and booking process leaves a lot to be desired, especially when booking from abroad. For the price paid it was alright and it served our purpose well and safely.
Hope you liked this edition of the series. Due to public demand, I shall be uploading the Air Europa report next followed by Report number 3 and 4.
Thanks for reading. Happy and safe flying, adios!