Welcome to my flight back home after my winter holidays.
After a three-hour layover in Buenos Aires, this flight will take me across the Argentine pampas and the Andes mountains back to Chile.
Yes, my holidays have come to an end, but this flight in particular turned out to be one of the most scenic.
Have a look!
What a nice day in Buenos Aires! A perfect day to fly!
This is leg 7 of 8 of this trip. You can also read the reports for legs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8.
My flight is on time (16:10)
Aeroparque never ever sleeps. It's an important hub for regional flights, and many passengers (like me) board connecting flights here.
The problem with AEP is its lack of services. IMHO, only one large restaurant…
…and the duty free shop (plus a candy shop and two vending machines) are not enough for a waiting room at such an important airport.
Most of the free space is used for queuing. Nowhere to have a good rest.
Electricity outlets. I can’t use them! Plugs in my country have two cylindrical pins.
Besides, being located on the shore, AEP must bear the terrible wind coming from the river/sea during bad weather, especially in winter. My flight from SCL last week was delayed precisely because of that! There's so much free, flat space around Buenos Aires, as you will see later. Why on earth did they decide to build AEP right here?!
Woo - hoo! Boarding time. Lining up at gate 19.
I still wonder where the other gates are. Are there more boarding rooms?
As we proceed along the ramp, I catch sight of this Andes Airlines MD-80. Andes is a relatively new Argentine airline. For the time being, they cover domestic routes only.
At the end of the ramp we climb down the stairs (there's also an elevator)…
…where we wait…
…for the shuttle bus. Be ready to freeze or fry, depending on the weather.
We are travelling on LV-FQZ.
Don't you think this is a nice livery?
The typical flat belly of the 737 engines.
AR's entretenimiento a bordo (which I didn't use) is Internet -based.
The walk of shame. We raise our heads and walk with dignity through the Cóndor cabin…
…and its wide, comfortable seats, towards cattle class.
The seat pitch is remarkable in cattle class, though.
As I said, the IFE is Internet-based. No seatback monitors.
The overhead panel. Sorry about the sharp angle pf the photo.
A cute stowaway!!
The last passengers.
The seat pitch is OK for me, but my neighbour is having some problems to… fit in. We are having a knee fight here. Maybe if he sat straight?
…the east .
We immediately bank to the left…
…and fly above La Plata river.
Now we're heading north and I can see the mouth of river Paraná on the left. Those ships must be going up the river to Argentine cities like Rosario or Corrientes, or to Paraguay.
As we climb above the river…
…we bank to the left again. This is when I realize that…
OH - MY - GOSH!! I'm gonna have a spectacular view of Buenos Aires!!!
This is the view that I missed in my three previous flights!
That's Aeroparque airport, and the racecourse behind.
I will never complain about long distances in Santiago again!
Puerto Madero was built at the end of the 19th Century.
The newer port (in the foreground) was built in the early 20th Century. Center left is 9 de Julio Avenue.
9 de Julio is the widest avenue in the world!* An important city landmark, the Obelisco, stands there.
*Some will argue that the Monumental Axis, in Brasilia, is wider than 9 de Julio Avenue, but the Axis is made up of two thin roads and a huge park in the middle. That's cheating!
We leave La Plata river and downtown Buenos Aires behind…
…but the city…
…seems to stretch…
…over the flat land.
This is the route we have taken.
Now we are…
…and the suburbs…
…little by little…
…give way to the pampa…
…until it's nothing but fields and more fields.
The first town we meet in the plains: Navarro and its lagoon.
Famous for its peaches and salami. Yum!
As we keep flying over endless plains…
…the curtains are drawn in order to pamper the Cóndor cabin passengers. Will my pre-ordered gluten-free snackbox come this time?
The FA hands me a box. I notice it has a green seal… the same as my neighbour's! It must be a standard meal, so I immediately ask if they have my gluten-free snack. She asks my name, rummages in the trolley, and… voila!
It has my name. Almuerzo = lunch.
Inside… oh, so sweet! A tiny little container with my meal, plus a rice alpha-whore (don't laugh! That's what alfajor sounds like!), and a set of blue plastic cutlery.
The meal consists of three chicken slices, some carrot sticks, two withered slices of cucumber, and some lemon.
The alpha-whore is filled with cream. Oh, my!! It says marroc. I wonder what that could be. We don't have marroc in Chile (afaik) and I couldn't find a definition on the web. So I guess it's a trademark. It's listed here under the top 10 Argentine candies.
To finish with, a cup of coffee. When will polystyrene containers be banned?
Meanwhile, the town of Chivilcoy, 160km from Buenos Aires, slowly passes under our feet….
…and so does Chacabuco.
The city of Junín, and El Carpincho lagoon.
Junín lies by the river Salado. Renowned Eva Perón was born in a little town just 58km from Junín. In fact, that road parallel to the river is Eva Perón Avenue.
In these plains, floods seem to be a constant threat.
…some towns seem to have escaped by a hair's breadth this winter!
As we approach the Andes foothills, these strange formations fill the landscape.
I am convinced that they are meteor impacts….
…but I haven't found any information on the Internet.
But it looks so evident.
I wonder if this kind of depressions can be formed…
The dam is fundamental for the local wine industry…
…like that around Ugarteche, the last town we see before the mountains.
Over the Andes
Now it's time to cross the wall.
It's amazing that these mountains…
…gave so many headaches to travellers…
…including the Incas…
…the Spanish conquistadors…
…and anyone who was travelling to Chile…
…until only a few decades ago.
…some have had to face the brutality of this beautiful monster…
…like Carlos Páez Vilaró's son…
…as I learned in my trip to Casapueblo.
I can't decide which angle is the most beautiful…
…so I'm leaving you all of them in a slideshow…
…in case you want to see them.
We make it to the other side.
The last snow on the hills…
…that nestle the valley of river Aconcagua.
The town of Los Andes lies there…
…protected from the smog that covers Santiago by those hills in the background.
A little farther down the valley lies…
The river Aconcagua flows westwards, from the mountains to the Pacific.
We bank to the left…
…turning towards the south, aligning with SCL.
I can finally see the king, Mount Aconcagua. It was on my right as we crossed the muntains, so I couldn't see it before.
Yes. We are near the airport.
We keep descending…
…into the valley of Santiago…
…over the peaks of the Cordillera de la Costa.
…northern suburbs of the city.
On final approach.
Landing gear down.
Crash… I mean, touchdown!
Welcome to SCL.
Here are some technical details of the flight.
What an interesting welcome committee! That white plane seems to be one of DAP's BAe aircraft. I'm not sure.
And one of Latin American Wing's 737-300.
We pass by the domestic flights wing…
…and taxi around the terminal…
…all the way to the international flights area on the other side.
A Canadian visitor that will surely depart at night.
Then we stop here and the captain informs…
…that we'll have to wait a little because the there's no space for us. :'''(
I take the chance to take some shots of the construction site.
A small Beechcraft…
…that comes and goes.
A Sky Airline A319 in its new livery leaves.
And we are finally given a place to park.
"Woman at the wheel" is a good thing, you see? No sexism here.
I didn't notice that little contraption before.
Last view of LV-FQZ
As I walk towards baggage claim…
…I wonder if baggage inspection will be as relaxed as at MVD. I'm about to find out.
After the customs stalls comes the SAG inspection (SAG = Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero)
You can't bring any vegetal or animal product into the country. I'm fine. I have nothing like that in my bags.
BUT THEY STOP ME AND ASK ME TO OPEN MY BACKPACK!!!! I freak out. I risk a fine if they find a prohibited item! I'm told that the scanner detected some moisture inside. We check. It was a pack of baby wipes! PHEW!!!
I'm afraid I'm suffering a severe case of post-holidays blues. Add to this the dim evening light, and the sad melody playing in my head… I'm ready to get into bed recalling the fantastic days spent in Uruguay, and get ready to fly to my hometown the day after. Boo - hoo!!!!
Thanks for reading. (Sob) :'''(
Buenos Aires - AEP
Santiago - SCL
Aerolíneas Argentinas I was planning to say that, for an economy flyer, the only thing that diferentiated AR from an LCC was the little snack box. But that would be too short sighted. The seat pitch is a bit better than on an LCC. They also have a good IFE. I didn't try it, but it's there. And there's the Cóndor cabin for those who like to be pampered. I'm about to try LATAM on an international flight next month. I might be in a better position to compare both competitors then.
AEP If you have to stay there for more than two hours, take a cushion with you, plus a lot of reading materials or many movies on your tablet. And a power bank in case you can't connect to the local outlets. No USB chargers at AEP. Also, take something to protect you or your children from the freezing wind in winter and from the heat shock in summer because you will have to wait for the shuttle bus in the open air.
SCL Kepp the good job, Nuevo Pudahuel!! ;)
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