What would be the coolest airport in the world, in your expert opinion?
DFW, perhaps, as the headquarters of the largest airline in the world?
Or DXB, the gate to the splendor and magnificence of oil riches?
Or maybe FRA, a business airport by excellence in the economic heart of Europe?
Ts, ts, ts. No, my dear readers. The truth is quite different.
The award to the coolest airport goes to Sao Paulo's Guarulhos International (GRU), which happens to be the main hub for nothing less than…
Welcome to the fourth and last leg of this trip to Brazil. You can also read the reports for legs 1, 2, and 3 if you like.
Some interesting info about this flight.
Having just arrived from Florianópolis, we stop at this café in the main hall of Terminal 3…
…for a little refresshment.
In my case, being on the wrong side of 40s, this includes a visit to the restrooms. Too many people for photos, but this corner with a row of power outlets deserves one. Very practical!
Outside the restrooms - and all over the terminal, indeed - Uber ads confirm that Brazilians feel at ease with new technologies.
Need some help with your baggage? Look for these white uniforms.
The parent in charge of the group has new tickets printed for all of us, with the new departure time.
According to this map…
…we are in the east end of terminal 2. Gate 242, in the left pier…
…is accessible through this escalator leading to…
…the check-in counters on the second floor (which Brazilians call the first floor. And the first (ground) floor is called "térreo" /TEH hew/)
According to the FIDS…
…LATAM's flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, is atrasado (late), too. This is one trip I want to make… as soon as I can have a shower in Cape Town without leaving the rest of the city without drinking water! Luanda, Beijing… Hm! Amazing reports coming as soon as I have visited all the largest Chilean airports.
Getting lost is impossible at GRU, despite its size. Everything is clearly marked with large signs…
…and bright colors.
The group splits for some minutes and we go looking around the shops. Then… huh? What on earth is that? Is it a bird? Is it a plane??
Hi, there. What is a nice superhero like you doing in a place like this? [no answer] You're not very talkative, are you?
Let me check your credentials.
Mm! You're a limited edition. So beside those muscles you must have brains, too. Do you write reports about your flights, by any chance? Oh, I see. You don't need planes.
Now that you're here… are you taking passengers? I'd love to go for a Superman-class ride. :D
What? Lois Lane already booked all your flights?! Dat b*tch.
Back in the counters area…
…it's almost 6:30! It would be a good idea…
…to go through security check at once.
More corridors, more stairs, more Supermen…
…and we make it to the checkpoint.
Beyond security check…
…there are gates and a saída (exit) on the left…
…and more gates on the right. This is the way we have to go.
The usual duty free trap…
…then a long stroll along the pier…
…and here we are, at last. The area around each gate at GRU…
…is a whole world in itself…
…with money exchange services…
……cafeterias, et cetera.
Our flight is estimated to depart at 8:00. As you might have read above, we eventually leave at 8:30.
Time passes quickly and we are ready to board.
The only piece of CC-BAG I can see from here is its tail. Very disappointing. I was expecting a 787, as on our inbound trip. :(
I can see that general boarding is the norm with LATAM here. I wonder if the same happens with other airlines in Brazil.
Among the things…
…that I never saw before coming to Brazil…
…is the use of a tarp…
…instead of the traditional accordion-like jetbridge canopy.
…what it looks like inside.
Very representative of the fractured world we're living in!
LAN-style seats, covered in leather, not wool.
On them, a bag…
…containing a blanket and a pillow. No earphones. :(
Looks like I won't see much of the landscape this time. It's completely dark already!
How did she get there?!
The only outstanding feature of this seat…
…is the coat hook!
Seat pitch more than acceptable for me.
Oh, and there's my floating device in case we crash… in the Andes!
Tray table OK.
Contents of the pocket.
Ahh… It feels good to be able to read at a glance again, without that little translation work constantly going on in the back of your head!
I wonder if a LATAM blanket will look nice on my bed. What?! Oh, cruel world! :(
Gabriela kindly shows us how much the seats recline.
Standard A320 panel.
The bagage handlers have just finished their work…
…when we are handed the form needed to enter Chile. "Bienvenido/a" is one of those monstrosities resulting from this stupid idea that grammatical and biological gender are the same thing. In Spanish, the masculine form of nouns and adjectives embraces all individuals, male and female. It's called masculino no marcado. No need to write or speak like retards.
We're all set.
We leave the boarding rooms behind…
…and slowly make our way to the runway.
If GRU looks big by day…
…it looks even bigger by night!
We take off towards the east.
I can tell because that seems to be the Rodovia Presidente Dutra toll station.
Sao Paulo makes for an amazing view…
…even by night.
The meal service starts almost at once.
Actually, it's halfway between a meal and a snack…
…made up of a sandwich…
The sandwich inside.
And, oh, surprise! Branded metal cutlery.
They are good quality. In fact, I have been using them for the last few months and the knife cuts very well! :D
The weather outside is great. Too bad it's pitch dark and you can see nothing but this. >:(
But the best part comes above the Andes. Intense turbulence like I never experienced before! I'm having fun, but some of the kids start crying in silence! Awww. Especially when the captain explains that the turbulence is over… but then it gets worse!! I'm telling you! Without our seat belts we all would have flown out of our seats! It was like being on a speedboat on rough water.
Arriving at SCL is a relief.
Last one to disembark, as usual.
Whoa! Flying on CC-BAG was quite an experience!
SCL is very peaceful at the moment…
…and we seem to be…
…the only ones wandering around here (except that lady, of course)
At international police…
…there seems to be a booth for each one of us. Very convenient! :D
See the mountains on the screen on the right? They will soon be featured right here, on flight-report.com! :D
SCL's baggage claim, so modest in comparison to GRU's.
When you pick your baggage…
…you are given…
…the very last opportunity…
…to get rid of any products of animal or plant origin that you might be carrying! (I don't think that "option" means the same as "chance". Bad translation, IMHO. I would say "última oportunidad")
Thanks for protecting my country! (Or else) :D
You won't get away even with a small olive.
Just look at how concentrated they are. Nothing escapes them!
From there, the exit is just…
…around this glass panel.
It's a bit crowded outside. SCL is making some "home improvement".
I hope you enjoyed this trip as much as I did!
Tourism Bonus - Views from the highway
Now we start our 11-hour bus ride to Valdivia. Like a backbone, the Panamerican highway (aka 5 Sur) runs from north to south along the middle of the 1000km-long valley where most Chileans live. There are some nice views along the way.
We started our trip right here, one week before. This is near my city. If you go that way you'll arrive in Osorno in about 90 minutes. But we are going north…
…where the ondulanting land around Temuco is used for growing mainly cereals.
North of Temuco and up to Santiago the weather becomes Mediterranean…
…which means "short, rainy winters…
…and long, warm summers."
Agriculture and wineries are the main activities around here.
In fact, you might probably find some Chilean produce at your local supermarket, say apples, or grapes, etc. They come from here!
Too bad for us that the best products are exported…
…and we have to make do with the rest. >:(
This hill is very meaningful for me. I have been on its top two or three times. It's brown and dry in summer, but green and beautiful in winter and spring. It used to be my playground when I was a child.
To finish with, a little word of advice:
Always keep your distance…
…from the vehicle in front of you!
Sao Paulo - GRU
Santiago - SCL
GRU Large and efficient. Has all services you might need. Clear signage. Get there early because you might have to walk a lot.
SCL Still on the small-ish side, it clean and efficient, bit it's getting more and more crowded. Be warned. New terminal coming soon.
LATAM Quality of service varies wildly for the same route depending on... God knows what. First you fly on a 787 with the best IFE, etc, and then you come back on an A320 with barely an earphone plug. Decent meal service.
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