Hello everyone, this report is about the return flight to Bogotá of a recent trip to Santiago de Chile I made last April. Both flights were booked on Avianca's new 787s, BOG-SCL here!.
I booked a shuttle to SCL that would pick me from my friend's house at around 4AM. Nasty time, but that's what was available…otherwise I would be at the mercy of Santiago's extremely expensive taxis.
When we arrived to SCL the amount of haze was amazing. I was confident about my flight being able to arrive well is a state of the art plane, and surely SCL has all the technology so the plane makes it I thought…not!
The Check in area was rather deserted, but AV's counters were full with people flying either to LIM or BOG, AV's hubs in South America.
Check in was pretty straight forward, and then on to the airside. Emigration control was rather slow (is it a thing with Chilean authorities to be so slow?)…security check was swift and then on into the bowels of a duty free store, because of the time almost everything was closed.
I roamed around trying to figure out what to break my fast with. Not many options. Overall, SCL's international pier is a long L shaped corridor with a pretty poor offering. Like I stated on the inbound report, SCL was disappointing. It used to be awesome, but it has failed to catch up with the recent trends in the region.
Weather was not improving. The inbound was supposed to be already at SCL but no news from it.
There was another plane at our assigned gate…I assumed it would be towed. But something in my gut told me that something was not alright.
I chose to take a quick nap in the meanwhile…I noticed the walls were falling off. To be fair the airport is undergoing some upgrading, but the general state of it is that is falling apart!
The LIM flight was boarded and I asked the AV ladies handling that flight if they knew what was the deal with BOG's flight…she told me she didn't know (wtf!) but she guessed the plane wouldn't make it….she just told me to look outside:
It was nasty, but I've seen worse in BOG. And airplanes could land. As far as I read, SCL had the most advanced systems. I didn't understand what was going on.
And then….s+t hit the fan
The same ladies went to our gate, told us the plane wasn't going to land in SCL, but it was detoured to EZE. I thought it was a rather dumb move, why not to Mendoza that's just around the corner! I also thought to myself that the AV people in SCL knew beforehand that the plane wouldn't be able to make it there, so why didn't they say anything. So, all in all, I got a new boarding pass with my new times. Check that my scheduled time meant that I would arrive to Bogotá at 11:45, which meant I could work for the rest of the day. Well, that wasn't going to happen now.
The worst part of it all, was that SCL does not have free WiFi, and I wasn't able to hog to any free wifi. I was bored as hell, and I didn't feel like eating or reading. It was awful.
As the sky cleared up a bit some spotting was made…but SCL's architecture doesn't allow for decent picture taking in some places. One great thing about Chile being so far down is that it gets is fair amount of widebodies, moreover you can spot the three 787 operators in Latin America: LAN, Avianca and AeroMexico.
Then a horrible announcement, that if the plane didn't make it on time to SCL, the crew's work timetable would be completed, so we wouldn't be able to fly out of Chile at 11:30 but rather at the late afternoon. This would have meant spending another 10 hours at the airport. I was losing my mind. Again, chaos. Some couples were on their honeymoon flights to Punta Cana and they were pretty vocal about AV ruining their time. There was another sugar momma excursion to the caribbean, also very explicit about being furious. It was somwhat funny.
Finally our plane made it from Argentina!
Apart from the honeymooners and the sugar mommas who were demanding compensation, reparation and so on… everyone was excited. Laughter, tears of joy (this is an exaggeration, but I would have cried if left for another couple of hours in SCL) were commonplace among the affected passengers.
At one point I needed to go to the WC, but it was full. So I discovered one on the lower level. If you ever visit SCL, go to that level, it has pretty good views. It was really nice to see the planes from that angle. BTW if I'm not wrong that was LAN's last A343, they were retired about a week after.
Then it was boarding time!
Since this was my second flight on the plane, there were no oohhs or ahhs for me, but the daylight gives a different ambiance, compared to my previous redeye. Again, every single seat with its respective pillow and blanket…The flight was full, so I was lucky to get these pictures before the plane got filled.
Bye bye to the A340 in Latin America…:( (OK AR still operates them, but it's matter of time till they're out too)
SCL is QF's only destination in Latin America, I felt really lucky that I got to see it.
Other traffic on the way to the runway, SCL's ATC tower used to be the tallest in South America (I reckon BOG's is the tallest now)
Take off was on a southward direction, then we made a 180 northward, which allowed for awesome views of the Andes, if I'm not wrong the highest mountain in South America, the Aconcagua can be seen. SCL could also be seen.
Mood lighting was on
And on the meanwhile I was playing with the tinted windows.
Until they froze on one setting. I bet the crew had them set that way. I think it has is pros and cons. Now you can see around without bothering the rest, but not being able to control the settings is a bit frustrating.
The crew wasn't seen for the first couple of hours, and then they showed up with lunch. AV never hands out menus. The flight's options where raviolli or chicken. I chose the raviolli. They were OK, but again, a rather minimal offering. Not quite what one expects for a 5h long flight. AV serves the sodas from a big 1.5 litre bottle, something I hate since the gas is gone by the time they serve the last cups. I asked the FA for two cups of soda, to which he obliged (so he passed the two sodas test I've been doing when flying international with AV). Another thing that annoys me about AV's catering is that you have to ask for salt and pepper. I didn't bother this time and just spread the butter over the pasta so it would have a bit more flavour.
In the meanwhile we were flying over Perú, but I couldn't figure which city exactly
After we ate trays were cleared and we were left to sleep. The tinted windows were set on dark, it was like travelling on a night flight!
About 1h before arriving to Bogotá we were given some ham and cheese sandwiches, not to big but an unexpected nice gesture.
The view outside looked so ….out of earth, it looked as if the mountains were more desert-like. When they're quite green.
A couple of minutes before landing we were free to set the windows to real colour
It was a butter-soft landing on RWY 13R.
Our plane at destination
Immigration took no time, as usual in BOG, bags took ages to come out. In the meanwhile I bought duty free booze, I love BOG's duty free it's got the most convenient prices I've seen thus far. I got by bags, and then a cab ride to my flat.
———————— Bonus track: some pictures of Santiago, Valparaiso and Viña del Mar
Santiago - SCL
Bogota - BOG
It would have been an awesome flight because of the plane and the views....but the huge delay meant I was a bit cranky for the rest of the day.
AV: The 787 is a great plane, it is really exciting to fly on it. It is tight, but I fear that's going to be the industry's norm for our times. The crew did its job as required, nothing extraordinary. Catering was OK, but insufficient. It would be great if AV handed some drinks after take off in flights longer than 3 hours. The sandwich before landing was a nice detail. The ground crew in SCL was a shame (note to the admins.: is it possible to add that criterion?)
SCL: It needs a renovation ASAP, it needs to be restored to its former glory...if one could say so. It needs more shops and eating options, but most of all: FREE WiFi!! It is an extremely boring place after the first hour.
BOG: Everything OK, except for the bags taking so long.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for the next FRs (BOG-IBE on LA, EOH-PEI on EF....a pair of rather obscure domestic flights) !
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