Why did I get an additional day of holiday? Why did I run up and down stairs for nothing? Why did I think this would be my last flight? Why did I end up on a cold sidewalk instead of a jetbridge?
Go grab a cup of coffee and find the answers in the following report… if you are patient enough.
Getting my Sky ticket
This is the return leg of my trip. You can read about my experience purchasing my ticket in my previous report.
I check in using my cellphone this time. Sky doesn't have a cellphone-friendly site, and navigating it can be a bit bothersome. You have to zoom in on buttons and boxes. Luckily, the process is not long and everything is done on a single page. I choose seat 24A because I liked the pitch of seat 24F on the first leg of the trip, and because the window and the seat were aligned. I get the boarding pass number 001.
My boarding card:
According to Sky's instructions two copies of the boarding card must be printed, but I won't have a printer handy during my trip. I ask them via Facebook and they say it's OK if I show my boarding card on my cellphone.
I'm ready to fly back home. What could go wrong?!
Just wait and see.
Reaching the airport
It's a holiday today and 99.9% of the Chilean population is sleeping off their hangover after celebrating Chile's victory in the Copa América, where it beat Argentina in an agonizing match. Just in case you didn't know it, Argentineans make our lives miserable by being taller and more handsome than us, so this victory helps a lot to improve our self esteem. I'm not very interested in soccer and went to bed early last night so I feel as fresh as a daisy this morning.
I'll get to the airport using the metro, and then the bus.
I want to have a look at the arrivals section on the first (ground) floor.
It's really boring. Only offices and some departments where you don't want to be. Also FIDS like this one. See the flight to Easter Island? It's only one flight. The others are share codes. Even though Easter Island is part of the country, this flight is considered an international flight because it continues to Tahiti.
I climb the stairs at the end of the hallway and emerge here. There are restrooms and janitor's closets here, and a cafeteria on top.
I'm glad to see that the baby signs are not linked to a specific gender, recognizing that males can also look after their offspring. But one of the signs was removed, or did it fall off the wall??
Heading back towards the middle of the hall I find the international boarding section.
This moai head welcomes buyers to this gift shop.
Hmm… What were these used for? Ah, now I remember. They used to be called public phones.
Next to this archaeological artifact, a luggage wrapping machine.
It's time to go airside. I head for the national departures section.
I'm airside in no time. It's still early and no-one else is going through security at the moment.
This is what you see when you walk straight ahead from security check to the domestic boarding room: the second floor of the building.
Every time I am here, all I see over my head are these (ugly) iron beams. I never noticed the third floor hiding there on the left! I'll get well acquainted with it very soon. :(
The place is spacious, has plenty of seats and shops, and is quite spotter friendly, but it lacks some services. This young man is connecting a device to an outlet destined to the cleaning service.
Now, if you are a mite, this carpeting will be paradise for you. Plenty of food for many lives. Shame on you, SCL!! (And shame on those filthy people, too)
I check gate 28 and everything seems to be in order. The plane is not there yet, but my flight is announced on the screen and on the FIDS. I should be home by 5pm.
Yep. My flight is listed there. Everything is all right.
Time for some plane spotting!! What will I find in a place where LATAM is king, and Sky struggles to stay afloat?
Here's something interesting! Mineral Airways serves mining companies in the north of the country. It seems to be a branch of Aerovías DAP, an airline flying routes in the south of Chile, including Antarctica! They have packages like Full-day Antarctica or Overnight Antarctica.
Chilean Airways? Never heard of them before. According to their website, it's a charter airline. They fly to destinations in South America and the Caribbean.
Ouh là là! Sexy tail, mademoiselle! I love your… code de bar?
Who's coming there? Might that be my bird for today?
Yes! It's CC-AHE and she heads straight for gate 28!
Everything gets f*ed up. (Fogged up)
People start gathering by the gate, and soon we see the crew boarding.
The minutes go by. There's a queue now. We are all unsuspecting of what is about to come. Five… ten minutes pass. Some Sky staff are talking at the gate. Is anything wrong? Some passengers are calling home. The word starts to spread: there's a dense fog in Valdivia. Will this affect our flight? It shouldn't. An ILS system was installed in Valdivia airport last year, right? We will soon find out.
An announcement comes over the loudspeakers: Due to bad meteorological conditions in the destination airport, flight 043 to Valdivia has been…
The face of that lady very much resembles our own incredulous faces as we watch the screen. We are told that further information will be available in one hour. Many approach the counter, as if the staff had the power to change the weather.
Well, there's nothing I can do right now. It's time for a walk around the place.
I find this in a gift shop: penguins in all shapes, sizes and materials.
Some figures depicting Mapuche people. I deal more deeply with Mapuche people in this report. (Coming soon!)
And plush llamas.
I sit for a while. Nothing on TV but the big news of the day: the Chilean victory of the day before.
Passengers waiting to board other flights, oblivious to my fog problems.
I want to try the free wi-fi, but I get an Oops! message:
Disable Ad-Block? Keep dreaming, SCL.
One hour goes by. It's time to go back to gate 28 and get an update on our situation. But the damning news comes without delay.
But here is what I loved about Sky Airline: As soon as the announcement is given about the cancellation, the staff inform us about the arrangements for a new flight the next day. I think they are talking about finding us places in the scheduled flight, but they explain that this is an additional flight. We will keep our seat numbers and all.
Our new departing time will be 12:30pm, on Monday 28.
Erase and rewind
Monday 28. First thing in the morning I phone my mother and ask her about the weather. It has not improved since yesterday and she can't see a thing across the street. That doesn't sound good.
Anyways, here we go again.
Getting to the airport again
There's a long queue at the Sky counter. I ask a Sky staff what I must do to check in on the new flight. He says "General queue for now. You'll be taken out soon." In fact, one minute after standing at the general queue, a young lady calls all passengers for the additional flight to Valdivia aside, and we check in very quickly.
Our new gate, on the third floor. Passengers are commenting that things have not changed in Valdivia. We are crossing our fingers.
This is the view on the second floor, where I was yesterday.
I check the FIDS. Our flight has been assigned the number 1043. But most of us forget about today's flight 043, and this will create confusion later.
I sit for a moment and have a look at my new boarding pass.
This is a brochure I took from the counter: The Passenger's Rights. More people should read it before they board a plane, in my opinion.
A quick walk around the third floor.
I have serious doubts that the trash in that bin will be really classified and recycled. We don't have that kind of waste management in Chile.
It's almost 12:30. I go back to my gate to see what's new. Other passengers are there, too.
Our worst nightmare comes true:
Damn fog. How is it possible that even the passengers to Punta Arenas, on the border with Antarctica, are merrily boarding their planes, while we can't land in Valdivia, a mere 800km from Santiago?!
We'll receive an update at 14:10. Disheartened, all passengers spread around the room. I am hungry, so I go to the cafeteria. At 14:10 we are all back at gate 23A, waiting to hear the bad news.
BUT THE NEWS ARE GOOD!!! The new departing time is 15:10! We are ecstatic and applaud.
We have to go down to gate 32 on the first floor.
But something strange happens around boarding time. Over the loudspeakers they say that the gate for flight 043 is 23A. There's an exasperated naaahhhh, and many of us flock back to the third floor.
Once there, the lady at the gate clarifies that flight 043 is today's normal flight. Our flight is 1043. DUH! Go back to your gate, you retards!
Yes. She is right. Lesson learned: Read the FIDS.
But, as if our agony wasn't enough, precisely when boarding should start we hear over the loudspeakers again: "Passengers of flight 1043 to Valdivia, your new boarding gate is… 28!!" We just can't believe it. This time there's this lady here, trying to calm the passengers telling them that gate 28 will allow us to use a jetbridge instead of a bus.
I stick to the lady and the crew on our way to the second floor.
We line up, and we start boarding… at long, long, long last.
I can't see much of our aircraft from the jetbridge.
We are welcomed by… a mechanic (?) and , oh, I almost forgot, Banco de Chile. I still see that logo in my dreams after my previous flight.
The cabin is similar to that of my previous flight. There's the FA. I say hello with a smile and she replies, but she's having a hard time trying to smile, it seems. She's either feeling ill or has heard too many rude comments from the passengers about the delay.
Why do Chilean airlines choose such dull colors for their seats?
The view from my window: that's the flyover I visited twice in the last 24 hours.
For the upteenth time… If there's something strange On your Sky airplane Who you gonna call? Banco de Chile!
Tray cleanliness test: FAILED AGAIN!! What's wrong with you, Sky!?
The pitch is more than enough for me!
The inflight magazine praising the wonders of Chilean ski resorts.
A full cabin.
Sky advertising on the overhead bins: "Three million passengers choose us every year. And we are low cost."
The overhead panel.
Safety instructions are given manually.
We start a rather long taxiing.
LATAM is not really in a hurry to paint their aircarft with the new livery, it seems.
We go from one end of the terminal to the other. Here, domestic departures.
In the middle, the main hall with the check-in counters.
On the other end, international departures.
I have always been curious about these things on the side of the runway. What are they? They look like CDs! What are they for?
We finally reach the runway.
Airborne at last!
The parking lot.
El parking de el plano de Gringoland.
I am amazed at the bucolic looks of river Mapocho, which flows across Santiago. I am used to seeing it trapped in a concrete bed.
In the distance, downtown Santiago in all its toxic, polluted glory.
The city stretches its tentacles like a hungry monster, swallowing croplands with a thousand new neighborhoods like this one.
See that hill in the middle of the city? That's San Cristóbal hill. The area that stretches from its foot towards the mountains is the most affluent part of the city. The so-called barrio alto (high neighborhood). A little beyond San Cristóbal hill you can see the tallest tower in Santiago, the commonly called Torre Costanera.
This is the sharpest image I could get of the tower. There's an observation deck on it. You pay 8,000 CLP (around 12 USD) for the addmitance. Take something for a headache before you climb, because you get from 0 to 300 meters in less than a minute. I had a minor discomfort when I was there, but I saw a Brazillian lady who got a splitting headache.
Above the smog, the pristine mountains.
That's a weird looking peak.
This photo is very representative of the geography of central Chile. Most people here live in the flat valleys at the foot of the mountains, always keeping an eye on the volcanoes up there.
Rancagua, 100km south of Santiago, bordered by the river Cachapoal.
These volcanoes are called Descabezado Grande and Quizapú. They are about 250km south of Santiago.
Descabezado means beheaded. I wonder if walking on that snow inside the crater is possible.
The further you go south, the lower the mountains are. I am horrified when I see that only the highest peaks, that is, the volcanoes, are covered in snow here in a time of year when all this landscape should be completely white.
Llaima volcano boasts its own umbrella.
The same does volcano Lanín.
Volcanoes Villarrica (on the foreground) and Lanín (on the background) dominate the landcape east of Temuco.
We start to descend towards Valdivia. A strange phenomenon occurs. Is that a round rainbow, or is it just a reflection on the window?
Yes! It is a rainbow!
But wait. What is that shadow in the middle of the rainbow?
It's the shadow of our plane on the clouds!
We are now under the clouds. There it is! That hideous fog that has kept us one whole extra day in Santiago!
Mocho volcano (left) and its brother Choshuenco (right) let us know that we are flying right over Valdivia.
The captain warns us that another flight couldn't land a little earlier. We are giving it a try anyway. if it doesn't work we will land in Temuco, some 120km north of Valdivia. The usual approach to Valdivia's runway is from north to south, but this time we are using ILS. We must go from south to north, so we make a steep turn to the right.
The sun is in on the left side now.
We sink into that thick fog. It's like being in a milk ocean.
Only the familiar sounds of landing give us an idea of what is happening. We are all still and quiet in the cabin.
I'm pretty sure we are about to land when suddenly…
The captain rejects the landing and we soar above the clouds again.
He announces that we are going to land in Temuco. We get there in a few minutes. The fog seems to be less dense here.
But it still turns the day into night at the airport. Wow! I can't believe it's less than 6 in the afternoon!
The view is better from this boarding room, but the registration is not visible.
I can take this photo later, but from a distance and having two windows in between.
I go through the boarding room in search for the counters, which are in the first floor.
We are told that some buses are coming from Valdivia with passengers that will board their flight here. Those buses will take us home, but they won't be arriving here until two hours later. I think it's OK, but some passengers complain that Sky "should have known about the bad weather", "that Sky should have given us a sandwich at least", that "there has been a lack of information" and that "the buses should have been waiting for us at the airport." I might be wrong, but I think that those passengers are not being realistic. I don't know what they are talking about! This man in the reflective jacket has to cope with all those rude passengers, but he won't stop until we all are in the buses. Two thumbs up for him.
Anyways, I get ready for a long wait at Temuco airport. I buy a mineral water and some cookies and take possession of some steps on the stairs, along with other passengers. There's a boy playing in the escalator. I should tell him that he can have an accident, but I'm too tired for that.
In the end the buses arrive much earlier than expected and we start our 2-hour trip to Valdivia. We are boarding here outside the terminal.
Two hours later they leave us at the Plaza de la República (main square) in downtown Valdivia, and my sister and her husband fetch me in their car.
This is how flightradar24.com saw our odyssey:
If you have read down to this point, you must be as exhausted as I was after this epic trip. But I hope you had as much fun as I did!
Thanks for reading!
Santiago - SCL
Temuco - ZCO
I don't want to write more. My fingertips are aching!
Only a big thumbs up for Sky for bringing us home safe and sound. Contrary to what some passengers said, I think that Sky did what they had to do. And there was no lack of information. We were clearly told what would happen, when, and when more information would be available. I never felt neglected.
SCL: improve your cleaning service, for God's sake!
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