But… what’s the rush?! Only 200km beyond my hometown is Puerto Montt. I can fly all the way there and indulge myself in some of the renowned local cuisine before I make it home.
This will also give me the opportunity to get some aerials of the area between my hometown and Puerto Montt, an absolute favorite among Chilean vacationers because of its native forests and an abundance of lakes and rivers.
Here’s the route as seen by flightradar24.com:
We are closed!
ETD is 10:10 a.m. I need to be at the airport at 9, so I’ll take the Metro at 7.
But when I get to the Metro station… the gates are closed! I ask the guard: Isn’t the service supposed to start at 6? He answers: Yes, but not on SUNDAYS! The service starts at 8 today.
OMG! What will I do!? I won’t reach the airport in one hour! I’m gonna miss my flight!
I rush to a nearby bus stop and, like a miracle, a taxi shows up. The driver asks 20,000 CLP (30 USD) for the ride. I take it. I have no choice! (Actually, it’s quite a fair price. I was expecting 40 or 50 USD. I have to cross the whole city!)
In my conversation with the driver, we learn that we grew up in the same town and went to the same primary school. Small world!
However, he didn’t make me a discount! :’’’(
Chile’s first ULCC
In the last months Sky has been announcing what they call “the second stage of the implementation of an LCC business model”. They call it la nueva forma de volar (the new way to fly). In their words, you will pay only for what you need. But those words actually seem to mean that now you get charged for many things that always used to be included in the price of the ticket, such as checked baggage and the right to choose a seat.
In a nutshell, Sky offers two different fares now: The “light” fare allows to carry 10kg of hand luggage for free. Your seat will be randomly assigned by the airline. The “plus” fare allows to choose your seat and carry a 23kg checked bag.
Does this really mean lower prices?
For the sake of justice, let’s make an objective, unbiased comparison. These are the prices for a round trip from Santiago to my hometown on both Sky Airline and LATAM on the same date:
LATAM: 54,253 CLP (81 USD)
Sky’s Light fare: 46,032 CLP (69 USD)
Sky’s Plus fare: 76,032 CLP (114 USD)
Well, I won’t make a judgement, but I’m not giving up my checked baggage and my window seat for 12 USD. And I like LATAM’s policy of publishing their prices with all the fees included.
Along with their adoption of this supposedly ultra-low-cost model, Sky also made an interesting corporate image makeover. They went from this…
Here is the video of the arrival of their first A320 with the new livery.
Luckily, there’s only a short queue for Sky Airline at the moment…
…unlike the one for LATAM.
Oops! I immortalized a romantic moment here! ^^
Sky makes sure that their passengers know their rights in case of denied boarding.
For the first time EVER, I am not given a printed boarding pass because I have the pdf version on my cellphone!
I’m asked to check the FIDS for the gate for this flight. I come across more of these new information kiosks I reviewed in my previous report.
Wayfinding Kiosks is their descriptive English name. The Spanish name, however, is a grandiloquent Directorio Digital, much more to the demanding taste of the refined Shilean flying elite.
Side note: "Shilean"? In the rest of Latin America they make fun of Chilean pronunciation of CH. It should be the same as in English, but we inherited the SH sound from local native languages. This sound doesn’t exist in Spanish originally, but poorly educated people tend to use it instead of CH, so they say Shile instead of Chile!
My gate is number 26.
I’m curious about the progress of the works for the new terminal buildings. I can get some views from the west side of the terminal. On the way, the counters of my new favorite airline. ^^
Hm! Looks like the construction is “taking flight”. ^^
Afterwards, I go straight to security. I don’t realize at first, but the line…
…stretches out of the security check area, all the way to the main hall! I had never seen this before!
Thank goodness I still have plenty of time, but this means that I won’t be able to visit the vinyl record shop! :’’’(
Luckily, we move forward at good pace. It’s almost a stroll.
This explains the huge line. The scanners on this side don’t seem to be working, except for checking that crew.
In spite of the extremely long queue, I’m airside in around 20 minutes.
Another Directorio Digital.
The McDonald’s food court, aka resting area, is in service already.
I love that design!
I’m amazed at how clean this airport looks as of late! I don’t see the usual litter under the seats. I wonder if it depends on the time of day.
I think it’s time for my first visit to the brand-new McDonald’s.
Being a fan of the Smurfs as a child, the Smurf-themed Cajita Feliz (meaning "happy little box") is the perfect choice! Did you know that Smurfs are three apples high? OMG! You live, you learn!
I asked for the least healthy version. What’s inside! What’s inside!
After my Smurf-sized snack (it’s OK, it might need to fit inside a sickness bag a little later) I go for a short airspotting tour. I catch this “messkin” aircraft passing by national departures…
…and, what a nice surprise, this LAW 737 waiting over there.
But this is not good ol’ CC-AQL from my flight from Concepción. It’s former CX-OAB, which used to belong to the now defunct Alas Uruguay, a short-lived airline that tried to revive the also defunct Uruguayan flag carrier Pluna. LAW had shown some interest in buying Alas Uruguay, but it eventually withdrew its offer, and ended up keeping the airline’s aircraft.
Without much more to shoot at, I go looking around the gift shop. There’s a newspaper stand at the entrance. The Clinic, named after the the British clinic where Augusto Pinochet was arrested in 1998, is a leftist publication characterized by its hilarious covers. Donald Trump graces this one in particular, along with a reference to his IQ. The word Pelotón (Spanish for Platoon) has been slightly modified.
Among these souvenirs…
…I find these plump clay figures of the 33 miners who were trapped in a mine for 69 days in 2010. Creativity has no limits.
I leave the shop, and then something funny happens. I check the FIDS again. My gate is not 26 anymore, but 24. Hm… what way is gate 24?
I turn around and… LOL, I’m in the queue without knowing it! ^^
We board quickly.
I’m pressing the shutter when a FA comes into scene. She’s not pleased to see me taking pictures, but I’m used to this reaction from Sky Airline’s FAs. I apologize and reassure her that I didn’t take the photo. She leaves and I take this one. Sky’s FAs are quite pesadas (unpleasant), compared to LATAM’s and LAW’s.
I’m gonna miss Sky’s old livery.
Cabins in all domestic flights in Chile are full Y, except on some LATAM’s flights to Easter Island that are considered international flights because they continue to Tahiti.
I take over my seat. View from my window.
Commence inspection. Filthy tray table… check.
Crumpled magazine… check. On the cover today, Pablo Simonetti, Chilean writer and LGBT activist.
Inside, an article about Punta Arenas, the southernmost large town in Chile, near the southern tip of South America. Will be visiting soon. ^^
Safety instructions… check. All the contents in the seatback pocket are in pitiable condition!
Un cafecito? is the typical expression to offer a cup of coffee.
Té means tea, and sounds the same as the reflexive particle te. You're being offered some tea, and at the same time you're being invited to relax (yourself).
Even though Sky Airline is an LCC…
…the seat pitch is acceptable for my height (170 cm)
Every corner of the cabin is plastered with ads.
I mean it.
Male and female crew today. Ready for pushback.
Flight information from flightradar24.com:
Plane in colorful livery on the right. I wonder what airline it is.
Center right: now I know where I’ll be boarding Aerolíneas Argentinas next July. How exciting!
Usual foggy/smoggy morning in Santiasco (asco = disgust)
Andean peaks are impressive here. Those two on the right are…
Mounts Manchado and Castillo, both over 5000mt in height.
I’m amazed there’s still some snow at the end of the summer, and after a six-year drought.
Some 60km south of Santiago, a bit north of Rancagua, Maipo volcano rises in the midst of the mountains. I lived for decades in the area, but the volcano can’t be seen from the valley, so I never noticed it. It’s 5,323 meters high! The mountains around it look like small hills.
The city of Rancagua lies on the river Cachapoal. Maipo volcano in the distance, on the left.
Then the clouds block the sight…
…until 250km south of Santiago. We are flying…
…over river Maule and Colbún dam.
So many valleys with intricate patterns here.
I’d love to go hiking down there.
Those are the Epulafquén lagoons, in Argentina.
The lagoons are very close to Nevados de Chillán, on the Chilean side. It’s a popular ski resort.
Then comes Laja National Park, where the highest peak…
…is called Sierra Velluda. It looks impressive in its scarf of clouds this morning.
Those are Agua Blanca (White Water) lagoon, high on top of the hills, and Canicura lagoon on the left.
Both lie north of Bío Bío river, whose lower course I crossed when I visited Concepción in my previous report. There’s a dam over there on the right…
It’s the Ralco hydroelectric plant, opened in 2004…
…after six years of construction and a decade of conflict with the native people living there.
Quite a bit of land got flooded by the dam.
Then I see another white crater.
It’s Lonquimay volcano.
If Lonquimay erupted, its lava would flow directly to this town, Curacautín.
LOL I’m just speculating…
…but have a good look at it… just in case.
South east of Curacautín is another interesting peak…
It’s Llaima volcano.
From left to right: Conguillío lagoon, Quilillo lagoon, and Llaima volcano.
In fact, Curacautín is the town to visit if you want to experience nature at its best. There’s a well developed tourism industry there, and you can visit all these wonderful places in Conguillío National Park.
The little village of Cherquenco is also at the foot of Llaima volcano.
The little town of Cunco announces that we have reached…
…the area that I have been longing to see. The lakes district!
I’m numbering the lakes from north to south for your reference. We are flying over numbers 1 and 2 at the moment.
Side note: You might have noticed that those names usually have the endings hue and co. In the tongue of the Mapuche people, hue (we, as in wet) means place, and co means water. ^^ For example, Collico means red water. Yes, adjective - noun, just like English.
First in line are lakes Collico (foreground) and Caburga (background)
Then comes lake Villarrica…
…with well-off Pucón on its east shore (commercial flights land in that airport in summer)…
…and more accessible, middle-class Villarrica on its west shore.
Lanín volcano stands majestically on the border with Argentina.
Next in line is…
…Riñihue lake, lacking the large sandy beaches of its brethren, but not less beautiful.
And this is my favorite one by far: lake Ranco.
The town of Futrono lies on its north shore.
Its surroundings are exceptionally beautiful.
Little lake Maihue is to the east.
Driving or cycling around the lake is a must if you visit the area, starting in Futrono…
…and coming to Lago Ranco, on the south shore. A wonderful, wonderful trip.
Here’s the whole lake.
Then it’s the turn for lakes Puyehue and Rupanco….
…and Puntiagudo (“Pointy”) volcano in the distance.
Last, but not least, lake Llanquihue. The center of all tourist activity in this area.
Puerto Octay, on its north shore, and countless other towns were founded by German immigrants.
The whole area, in fact, was colonized by Germans.
The last traces of snow on Osorno volcano sublime in the morning air.
We continue descending towards PMC…
…along the shore of lake Llanquihue…
…over green fields…
…the town called Llanquihue…
…and then Puerto Varas…
…which serves as a dormitory city for Puerto Montt.
On final approach.
We reach the end of the runway…
…and turn right.
We taxi past these… things (?)…
…and some military…
Someone is crazy for old aircraft here.
Some private planes.
Turning to the right.
ATA Aerolíneas. They fly to some islands, like Robinson Crusoe Island. They also have a flying school.
This guy seems to be visiting from the US.
Not everybody is leaving the aircraft. This flight continues to Punta Arenas.
As I emerge at the boarding room…
…and take the mandatory photographs…
…of my plane on the tarmac…
…I realize that the juice included with the Cajita Feliz…
…won’t stay in much longer.
An apartment in Puerto Varas, anyone? "Plaza Schwerter". I told you about the German influence.
No baggage to claim. However, the transfer stand is inside baggage claim, so I have to go there anyway.
But there I’m told to hurry and pay the driver because the bus is leaving.
And here we go. Ready for lunch in Angelmó, Puerto Montt’s traditional outdoor market.
The price of the transfer from the airport to the bus station: 2500 CLP (3.5 USD)
Tourism Bonus - Angelmó
This sign shows that we are arriving at Angelmó, an outdoor market…
…where I’m planning to have lunch today.
You just walk along Puerto Montt’s seafront towards the west…
…past a long row of handicraft stands…
…until you find this gate.
Beyond the gates are the restaurants…
…which specialize in seafood and typical dishes.
There’s a small dock…
…and you can go for a boat ride. The land across the water is Tenglo island.
Some info about Angelmó.
The local produce in the market includes cheese, butter, preserves…
…chicha de manzana (fermented apple juice)…
…different kinds of seaweed like cochayuyo (the small brown packages behind the bottles) or luche (which is sold in compact “cakes”), and the huge cloves of Chiloé island garlic…
Tip: I usually mince cochayuyo finely in a Moulinette and use it in hamburgers in replacement of meat. Yummy! You could try that with some local seaweed!
…and shellfish ready to eat. (I prefer not to try raw food unless I prepare it myself)
Many different kinds of potatoes…
…and a favorite of mine: smoked, dried cholgas (Aulacomya atra), a large member of the mussel family. The orange ones are piures (Pyura chilensis), which have a strong flavor. You love them or you hate them.
But let’s get down to business. I chose this restaurant and ordered curanto. What is curanto?
This is curanto. It’s made up of shellfish (cholgas, mussels, clams), potatoes…
…smoked pork, longaniza (a kind of spicy sausage)…
…chicken, and two kinds of potato cakes called milcao and chapalele. Oh, God. This is heavenly. I'll come back to you in a moment. [OUT FOR LUNCH]
Some time later…
I’d kill for some place to slump down. Seafood always makes me sleepy. I take some shots of the landscape on my way back to the bus station.
Downtown Puerto Montt on a bright day is a rare sight. It’s usually cloudy!
The east suburbs.
The mountains beyond the city.
It’s an animated afternoon around the bus station.
Some people are waiting for their buses…
…and others are learning to drive.
In case of earthquake… run!
In front of me…
…this boat hurries…
…towards this bigger boat…
…which displays an important reminder: “Safety first”.
It’s time to go back home.
In every report there is a present for the first reader who asks for it. This was the present this time, a woolly hat from Angelmó, AND IT'S GONE! Sorry!
Stay tuned, and better luck for the next report! ;)
Thanks for reading! ^^
Santiago - SCL
Puerto Montt - PMC
Sky - Does the job. By implementing a hard-core low-cost model passengers can forget about free checked baggage or even picking their favorite seat, and their plus fare is more expensive than LATAM's flat fare.
SCL - The new concession holder is doing a magnificent work. New services surprise me every time I go there.
PMC - Nice and tidy as usual.
2 LIKESLIKE TO THANK THE AUTHORTHANKS ! FLIGHT-REPORT LIKED
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Nice report and you are an excellent tourist guide :)
Thanks for the hat, but it is not my style ?
Pls keep posting!
Thank you, FlyLWA!! ^^
I'm glad to know that you didn't get bored. This report was a bit too long!
No problem. But don't come back crying in winter! XDDD
I will. New posts coming late July/early August, with new presents that you might like.
In fact, I bought a present for a previous report, but it was candy and it was too good to be given away. :D
Thanks for commenting! ^^
Sky's new livery looks cheaper, in painting cost and in image.
Welcome to the wonderful world of smartphone BP users ! (I joined only last month ^^)
I suspect a number of French travelers in Latin America seem uneducated, when they pronounce CH like at home ;)
I hate it when an FA turns up unexpectedly in the frame AND complains about being photographed.
For a second, I thought that you described the livery of Barcode Airline (a.k.a Air France) as colorful, being the last parked at the terminal. ;)
Great geography lesson and tourist bonus !
I'm not interested by the cap, but your reports are most welcome. Thanks !
Yeah... well... I still like it more than LATAM's. KévinDC says that that purple color reminds him of Barney the Dinosaur, but I just can't imagine a Sky FA singing "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family". That's impossible.
Congrats! A tree will thank you for that!
Ah, but it's different with a French accent! ^^
I'm not THAT sarcastic! XD
Thank you! ^^
Thanks for the nice trip report and great bonus.
Loved the breathtaking views from the sky.
Never thought 'Ceylon Tea' market has reached as far as South America :)
My pleasure! ^^
Seeing those lakes from the air was very meaningful for me. I have wonderful memories of moments spent there since I was a child. I also lived and worked in Puerto Varas, by lake Llanquihue, for one year. Everything is so beautiful there, and it breaks my heart to know that much of it is endangered because of global warming, pollution and deforestation. :'(
LOL You see? Sri Lanka is famous all over the world! ^^ Though the average Chilean wouldn't be able to find Sri Lanka on a map! Actually, the average Chilean can't find Chile on a map.
I wonder what Chilean products can be found in Sri Lanka... if any. I found Chilean grapes in New Zealand. Chilean pickpockets are abundant in Europe, too. Non-traditional exports, you know?
Thanks for commenting! ^^
"Seeing those lakes from the air was very meaningful for me. I have wonderful memories of moments spent there since I was a child. I also lived and worked in Puerto Varas, by lake Llanquihue, for one year. Everything is so beautiful there, and it breaks my heart to know that much of it is endangered because of global warming, pollution and deforestation. :'("
It is always sad to see those things happening to the nature. Same thing happens here with commercialization of natural tourist attractions, destroying the very same thing tourists want to see. :/
"LOL You see? Sri Lanka is famous all over the world! ^^ Though the average Chilean wouldn't be able to find Sri Lanka on a map! Actually, the average Chilean can't find Chile on a map."
On the other hand, Chili is more of a spice used in daily cuisine in our context :D About the country, its mostly known here for Tsunamis and Pinochet!
"I wonder what Chilean products can be found in Sri Lanka... if any. I found Chilean grapes in New Zealand. Chilean pickpockets are abundant in Europe, too. Non-traditional exports, you know?"
Once I found some Chilean wine in a local supermarket :)
Hola Don Nelson.
You must be the first FR member who offers a gift so generously. If it is still available, I would love to have such a special souvenir from your beautiful country.
" I can fly all the way there and indulge myself in some of the renowned local cuisine before I make it home."
- The gourmand in you is coming out. ;)
"However, he didn’t make me a discount! :’’’("
- Are you sure you worked hard enough for it? :P
"Sky also made an interesting corporate image makeover."
- Personally I think the old livery had more charm than the new one.
" Sky’s FAs are quite pesadas (unpleasant), compared to LATAM’s and LAW’s."
- I would have asked her if she forgot to take her Valium. Perhaps she needed a laxative.
"now I know where I’ll be boarding Aerolíneas Argentinas next July. How exciting!"
- Another stellar report coming up. Can't wait.
Absolutely breathtaking and stunning aerials as usual. You are one of the best ambassadors for your country.
Your bonus was a treat and you made me hungry with all that delicious food. I have never came across a Chilean restaurant in the U.S. except for a little stand that sells empanadas chilenas in San Francisco, but the day that I will go down there I will eat to my heart's content.
Thank you for the privilege of showing us your charming corner of the world. Eres muy afortunado.
Of course!! The hat is yours! Just give me a shipping address using the contact button on my profile page! ^^
LOL Curanto is actually a pretty humble dish, but I inherited this taste for seafood from my dad. There's also a little red wine in the recipe, so get ready for a long nap afterwards. ^^
I made my best effort, but I'm afraid I was not charming enough. :P
I can't wait, either! I have never been to Montevideo before, and I've been told it's a wonderful city! Besides, I will also make a short visit to the paradise of scallops in the north of Chile. Yummy!
Gracias por comentar! ^^
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