As the "wayfinding kiosk" at SCL clearly announces, WE ARE HERE to fly to some great places, and visit some amazing airports.
This is the beginning of a series of eight reports in which we will land at (among others) Atacama Desert Airport (CPO) - the beautiful, newly-built airport serving Copiapó in the north of Chile - and then at the stylish Carrasco Airport (MVD), which serves Montevideo, the marvelous capital city of Uruguay.
Besides, I will be delighted to share with you some nice little souvenirs from these destinations in some of the reports! (Not in this one, unfortunately. But stay tuned!)
Unfortunately, I have to board my plane at SCL, so this first leg takes me from my hometown to Santiago.
This is leg 1 of 8. You can also read the reports for legs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
The Santiago curse
I seriously dislike Santiago, but the gods keep laughing in my face.
My plan is to fly to Santiago, and then board the flight from there to Copiapó only a couple of hours later. Sky Airline schedule allows me to arrive at SCL at 14:50 on July 11…
…and board the flight to Copiapó at 17:10.
I buy my tickets some days apart in November 2016. Sky Airline changes its corporate image in the meantime. Hence the different logo.
However, several months later the flight to Copiapó is rescheduled. It's departing from SCL one hour earlier now!
I'm afraid this won't leave me enough time to check into my second flight if the airport is crowded for winter holidays. I prefer to change the first flight for the day before. I will have to spend a night in Santiago.
I did well to buy my tickets in advance. I can choose a seat in my beloved row 24 for free. A few months later Sky Airline implemented what they call the "second stage of their adoption of a low cost model", which means you have to pay for choosiing a standard seat.
Prices were never the same again after this "second stage". You won't find a "Plus" fare (i.e. with seat and checked bag included) at Sky at this price now. (37,136 CLP = 57 USD)
July at last!
It's incredible how time flies. A whole school semester came and went, and it's time to check in. Sky now sends to your email a standard version of the boarding card…
…and a mobile version.
If you have read my reports before, you might have noticed that I aways fly on a budget. That's why I appreciate it when I can use the public transport to reach an airport, and ZAL is remarkable in this sense.
Almost any bus going north from Valdivia will drop you outside the airport. Here we are arriving. I can see the airport's ILS.
This bus in particular is going to San José de la Mariquina, and then to a fishers village called Mehuín. Have I mentioned how good their salmon is? Yummy!
And here we are.
The small terminal is crowded with passengers for a LATAM flight. I go straight to the Sky Airline counter now that no one is queueing there.
Hm! Quite light, considering I'm carrying smoked salmon and a bottle of Chilean wine for my airbnb host in Montevideo.
Yes, I know this is not a lot of people, but it's a crowd by local standards.
Boarding pass in thermal paper.
It's always a good ides to visit the restroom before your flight. However, the usually clean restrooms at ZAL leave much to be desired this time!
And they stink! Too bad.
Some views of the activity around the hall.
ZAL is growing. There used to be one self check-in kiosk. Now there's two!
There's a bulletin board in a corner, with posters inviing you to join the world of aeronautics. It must be a reflection of a growing need for professionals in this area. As you will see in future reports, the landscape of Chilean commercial aviation has widened considerably in the first half of this year.
Not much more to see around the hall. I go through security in two or three minutes, This is what the boarding room looks like at the moment.
Most of these passengers are waiting to board LATAM's flight…
…which is park outside while passengers from Santiago disembark.
It's time for them to board. Nothing unusual…
…until I happen to see a man walking along the jetbridge AFTER the plane has left! I know that he will have to come back, unless he decides to jump to the the apron and run after the plane just like this Bolivian man did some time ago, so I prepare my camera. There he comes…
…while the plane leaves…
There he is, talking on the phone. I wonder if he missed his LATAM flight or thought he was boarding the Sky aircraft. I didn't check if he was still there when we boarded one hour later.
I clearly remember that little girl's name, Elisa. Her young, apprehensive father was constantly calling "Elisa, don't touch the floor. It's dirty." "Elisa, don't sit on the floor." Well, Elisa decided to LIE on the floor.
Elisa had a great time crawling and rolling on the floor while we waited for our delayed flight. It was scheduled for 5 p.m., but at 4:12 it was just leaving Santiago.
It wouldn't arrive at ZAL until 1 hour later.
We can hear it landing from south to north, as it happens when it's foggy in order to use the ILS you saw in a picture above, but we can't see a thing because of the thick fog! The plane goes past the terminal, and we know it's taxiing back… somewhere.
Until it shows up…
…and comes to a stop…
…behind this frayed flag.
With such delay, the boarding process starts rapidly…
…while the incoming passengers disembark.
We are held at the entrance of the bridge until we can board.
At long last we board…
…with some 50 minutes of delay.
Curiously, no one looks annoyed and we are all cool with it. We board in silence.
Must be the weather. Everybody seems to be dozy because of the cold and a lack of sunlight.
As for the delay…
…I am surprised that Sky didn’t say a word about it. And ZAL doesn’t even count with FIDS, so the only way to stay updated was by means of apps like flightradar24…
…or Tripcase, which sends me an email. (A little late, though)
The cabin looks as gray as the day outside…
..and ads are colonizing every corner of it!
The tray is acceptable.
Creativity crisis reflected in the coverline.
Wow! Foldable cover! First time I see this in an inflight magazine.
Safety instructions both sides.
The menu, which I (foolishly) thought I would not use this time.
Taxiing to the runway. Romantic or scary… it depends on your mood.
Above the clouds, the snow-capped tops of some volcanoes contrast with the shades of pink and purple of the evening light.
Mocho and Chos-wuenco volcanoes raise beyond the fog that covers Valdivia.
The view gets clear as we head north.
The atmosphere in the cabin is placid. All the children seem to be sleeping.
The BOB commences. I decide I’ll try the blueberry muffin with a cup of coffee this time. Just wonderful! The muffin is soft and sweet.
We soon reach the southern suburbs of Santiago.
River Mapocho flows towards the west through the center of the city.
Shortly before landing we are told that lights will be dimmed in the cabin for safety reasons.
It’s a soft landing. As usual, we land from north to south…
…and head for the east wing of the terminal, dedicated to domestic flights (in the picture)
…next to this LATAM aircraft.
Our baggage is unloaded at once.
Give me one good reason to get off. Moving around Santiago at the rush hour is not a good idea.
The crowd is waiting to board the next flight to Antofagasta, in the north (which I will be visiting next February!)
A last glimpse of CC-AFZ.
We are told that we must pick our baggage from belt 8. Yep. They are right this time. There comes my bag.
I pull my bag (and drag my feet) slowly around the first level…
…towards access 5 where, besides bumping into a colleague who’s flying to the Caribbean, I take a photo of this message that reminds me that I'm here for a fantastic reason: My winter holidays are just starting!!!
Valdivia - ZAL
Santiago - SCL
Airline Sky Airline played an important role in bringing the low cost model to Chile. Ticket prices plummeted thanks to them. They keep doing their job: taking you from point A to point B. If you don't care about ads plastered all over the cabin, you will probably enjoy their service. In spite f today's delay, they proud themselves in their punctuality. Also, in spite of not having an IFE system, their magazine goes beyond advertising for tour operators, and include some showbiz. And a special mention goes to their muffins. Lovely!
ZAL Frozen in time. No relevamt changes. If they want my respect they should place something more than a chewing gum ball dispenser in the main hall. Hope the stinky restroom was something circumstancial.
SCL Moving fast forward. You will see more of it in future reports. The current European concession holder is doing an amazing work!
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