Notes from One of the Worst Travel Days I’ve Ever Had

28 Mar

I can imagine that you have similar horror stories when traveling. Aside from a couple of close calls in bus terminals and airports, a bus hijacking and such, yesterday’s return from Chile was a new disaster I never want to experience again. Here are the notes I took throughout the day.

6:45 am: Wake up in darkness. Prepare for day and head out around 7:15 am from the beach village of Tongoy to La Serena Airport, about 50 kilometers away.

8:30 am: Arrive to La Serena Airport after getting slightly lost on the way, with zero road signs pointing to the airport. Check-in for 9:40 am flight to Santiago.

8:45 am: Embarkation begins for LAN flight.

8:50 am: Announcement of 1.5-2 hour delay due to thick fog.

9:40 am: Announcement of delay until 10:20. Told that though I’ll miss my connection, they can put me on an Aerolineas Argentinas flight at 4 pm from Santiago to Buenos Aires.

10:20 am: Announcement of delay until 10:40.

10:40 am: Announcement of delay until 11:20.

11:20 am: Announcement of delay until 11:40.

11:40 am: Announcement of delay until 12:30 pm.

11:50 am: Begin boarding next flight to Santiago, first flight is seemingly forgotten.

12 pm: Manage to get one of last seats on flight to Santiago leaving at 12:05 pm. Board plane.

12:30 pm: Take off for Santiago.

1:20 pm: Land in Santiago. Told 4 pm fight doesn’t exist, but I’m moved to the 7 pm flight. Check-in begins at 3:30 pm, when I can receive a food voucher too. Also told that they’ll reimburse me for the flight.

3:30 pm: Begin to wait in the check-in line. Previous flight at 5 pm is canceled.

4:50 pm: Given boarding pass for 9:50 pm flight and food voucher at a cafe.

5 pm: Eat first meal of day* (To be explained later)

6 pm: Pass through Customs, boarding is scheduled for 9:10 pm.

8:30 pm: Gate is changed to other end of the airport.

9:10 pm: Crew no where to be found. Readerboard now says flight leaves at 11 pm.

9:40 pm: Change gate again to other side of airport. All lights in gate are turned off and we wait in darkness.

11 pm: Begin boarding Aerolineas Argentinas flight to Buenos Aires.

11:30 pm: Return from taxi on runway for “technical problems”. Told it will be 5-10 minutes more. Can see ground crew loading a wheel chair into the plane.

11:45 pm: Begin taxi on runway again.

12 am: Take off from Santiago.

1:20 am: Land in Buenos Aires.

1:30 am: Begin line for Customs and struggle to explain my passport/DNI situation. Officials aren’t sure what to make of my status. Bosses are called over and they refuse to let me pass without stamping me as a tourist and having me pay U$140 ($568 ARS).

2:20 am: Leave airport after paying tax.

2:30 am: Arrive at home.

*5:50 am: Begin vomiting from the meal at the airport.

*7:20 am: Vomit again. It looks like the free meal gave me food poisoning on top of everything else that went wrong during the day.

As you can see, it was a pretty miserable day in which 2 flights of 40 minutes and 1.5 hours wound up getting me home 12 hours later. We were lied to and abused by Aerolineas Argentinas, and my theory is that because it was a holiday weekend they offered more flights, yet they were undersold. Thus, they canceled a few of them to consolidate and fill up the remaining flights, saving them gas. I think this because the 9:55 pm flight was essentially filled up with passengers from the 5 pm flight.

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