Tag Archives: aerolineas argentinas

Planning Upcoming Trips

6 Apr

In three weeks I’ll be taking off for my long awaited vacation to southern Bolivia and northwestern Argentina. Though I’ve been slack on planning or reading too deeply into what I can do, I’ve got some things in mind for what I’ll do during the two week period of traveling alone. I’m excited by the prospect of traveling again for longer than just a day or two, and being able to go at my own speed and leisure. So far, all I have planned out are the round trip air tickets to Salta. The idea is to show up and then catch a bus to the border, arriving in Bolivia by the morning. Because the train from the border only leaves twice a week, I need to get there that day before 3 pm to get my ticket and head to the city of Tupiza, where I’ll hook up with a tour of the Salar de Uyuni. If I miss the train, there’s always a bus.

I’m wary of buying my bus ticket from Salta to the border in advance because of my experience with Aerolineas Argentinas, which I’ll unfortunately be flying again this month. With the last flight of the day, I can almost guarantee a delay, and I don’t want to waste money on a bus which won’t get refunded.

Apart from this upcoming trip to the north, I’m starting to think about what I’ve avoided all along while down here in Buenos Aires: planning my return to the United States. The time is coming when I now need to look more deeply into flights, and over the last couple of days I’ve been searching heavily, and come up mostly empty as I find that even through consolidator Web sites, the cheapest airfare available back to Boston is close to U$1,300 with a route heading up to Toronto, for example. I was considering going to Atlanta for a couple of days on the way back to visit some friends, but it’s more expensive for some reason than flying 3 hours farther north. That part boggles me, but just as well I suppose because my friend Lauren will be out of town during that time.

Today my friend Vero passed me an email with flight offers from a travel agency just a few blocks away, and they actually had incredible deals. A flight to Miami was something like $250 and to New York would run $490. This was round trip and before taxes, but I wanted to double check before getting my hopes up. After work I went to check it out and though I had to prove that I work in a travel agency (it appears to be a special deal), the price was the same. Taxes are heavy though, and in the end flying to New York will run me about $1,100, which is still pretty good. It’s a round trip ticket which doesn’t have many strings attached, except that I can only use the ticket during low season (winter in the Southern Hemisphere) and during the week). Though it was listed as an offer expiring on Friday, the guy told me it’s basically available all the time, subject to availability.

I took the liberty of checking the price on Rio de Janeiro as well (listed at $148) and it would wind up being $300 round trip. It’s not too bad, but I’m still going to shop around a bit online first and see what other carriers have to offer. If this works out, I’m planning on returning to the travel agency tomorrow to buy the tickets back to the United States, which at least for now, seems to be fixed on taking the red eye on July 11, arriving in the States on July 12. From New York I could either fly back to Boston directly or go the cheaper route of taking the bus. There’s time to think about that, though.

It’s sad to see time winding down here, but it’s also a nice thought to picture myself back home and enjoying so many of the things which I have missed while being away. And with a round trip ticket with a changeable date, it doesn’t mean that I’m just going to leave and forget about this place. That would be impossible.

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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.