Review of LATAM flight Punta Arenas Puerto Montt in Economy

Airline LATAM
Flight LA280
Class Economy
Seat 7L
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 02:10
Take-off 27 Jan 18, 09:30
Arrival at 27 Jan 18, 11:40
LA   #66 out of 113 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 139 reviews
By 749
Published on 25th May 2018
Welcome to the second flight of my 2018 summer holidays.

My mother and I visited cold, windy Punta Arenas for one week. Now we're flying back home, where I'll drop her before flying… back to the south!

But before we board, let me share with you some images of our visit to two of the main local landmarks: the milodon's cave, and Paine Towers National Park.

BTW, this is flight 2 of 9 of this trip. You can also have a look at the reports for flights 1, 3, 4, and 5 if you like. The rest are coming soon!

Pre-Flight Bonus - Paine Towers National Park

The day after our arrival in Punta Arenas, we take a full day tour to a place some 300km north of the city: Torres del Paine National Park.

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The van picks up at 6 a.m. and we travel north…

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…along this road that connects…

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…Punta Arenas and the small town of Puerto Natales.

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The whole trip is very scenic.

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In fact, we'll be watching awesome landcapes…

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…all day long.

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A brief stop at Puerto Natales.

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As we continue northwards…

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…the mountains get higher.

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…and we are in the middle of lenga forests.

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Before we enter the national park, we visit la cueva del milodón (the milodon's cave).

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The price of the ticket…

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…is not included in our tour.

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I'm not sure how much it was. 2500 CLP (4 USD) I think, but all tickets are three times more expensive for foreginers.

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Before you get to the cave, you find some information about the site.

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This was the milodon…

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…and other animals that lived…

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…around here thousands of years ago.

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The path leading to the cave…

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…is lined by lenga trees.

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There's the cave. Let's follow that path on the left.

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What if one of those stalactites falls on someone's head?!

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Some plants grow here thanks to the water that filters throught the cave's roof.

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Certainly not a good moment for an earthquake.

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And that would be all. Not much more to see…

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…but being there makes you feel like you are the size of an ant.

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On the way back I learn…

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…how this cave formed.

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This beautiful bird is nesting in a hole in the stone wall outside the cave. We'll see a similar bird later and, as we'll learn, they are very friendly!

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That one seems to be a tordo.

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We travel one more hour from the cave to the park, with Prat mountains on our left.

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Then we have our first encounter with them…

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…the majestic…

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…Cuernos del Paine (Paine Horns)

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We are watching them from Lago Toro (Lake Toro) (toro = bull)

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So, we're now inside the park. We find a series of hostels and cabins…

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…by río (river) Serrano.

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Then we make it to the park's administration. Admission is 21000 CLP (34 USD) for foreigners.

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This map was on the wall, but we visited so many places and went on so many roads that I just can't trace our complete route on it.

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The park covers this group of mountains and lakes carved in the soft rock by glaciers.

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Next stop is Río Pingo. There's a cafeteria there…

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…with insulting prices! And I thought that LATAM's BOB was expensive!

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Opposite the cafeteria is the park guard's house…

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…at the foot of some cliffs that reveal the turbulent origins of this land.

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Behind the cafeteria is this hanging bridge…

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…over Pingo river…

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…..leading to this trail that winds through a forest…

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…of lenga trees.

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The work of woodpeckers.

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And to think that lenga forests were seriously threatened in the early 2000s…

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…when a forestry company called Trillium planned to harvest thousands of hectares.

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Afaik, the case was taken to court in Chile…

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…and Trillium eventually cancelled their operation in Chile…

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…though they are still active in Argentina, under the name Lenga Patagonia.

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I wouldn't allow this to be destroyed.

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While we wait for the rest of our group to come back from the trail, this little guy - similar to the one we saw outside the milodon's cave - comes hopping between our feet.

And he (or she?) is not alone. There's a different one wearing a brown scarf…

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…and one more that looks like a common sparrow.

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At first we think that the three of them are a family, but some research shows that the mom is a rufous-collared sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis)

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…the young one is her baby…

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…while our colorful friend is a Patagonian Sierra-Finch (Phrygilus patagonicus)…

For the rest of the tour…

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…we get to see the horns…

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…from every possible angle.

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Those huge rocks are stunning!

Ah! A reminder of the route…

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…that we will fly in this report!

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Next to the horns there's a mountain called Nido de Cóndores (Condors Nest)…

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…for a reason.

Condors became an endangered species after sheep farmers hunted them, believing that they preyed on their sheep. Sheer ignorance. Condors are scavengers and they feed exclusively on dead animals! BTW, here's a heartwarming video of a condor that has a close relationship with an Argentine who used to be its carer The condor pays him a visit, and the guy greets the bird saying "Hola! Cómo estás. Tanto tiempo! Me viniste a saludar?" (Hi! How are you? It's been a long time! Did you come to say hello?) And the condor is the cutest thing on earth!

We get some of the best views from Pehoé, a camping site…

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…with a great barbecue restaurant.

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Luckily, it's not raining in spite of the menacing weather during my second visit…

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…and we can stay here for a while…

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…and have our lunch with these views.

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As we keep going around lake Pehoé…

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…we find evidence…

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…of the damage produced by some careless people.

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Thousands of hectares have burned after someone smoked or burned a little piece of paper…

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…which is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN in the park.

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The reason? The wind! These images give us an idea of how strong the wind is around here.

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So, if you think you can't stop smoking during your visit, PLEASE DON'T VISIT THE PARK! If you drop a single cigarette butt, even by accident, you won't be able to recover it, and you'll start a terrible fire.

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Our next view is of the well-known (at least locally)…

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Pehoé hostel.

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You can check the prices under the tarifas tab on their website. (I didn't find an English language version of it!)

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Eventually, as we near the end of our day-long tour, the mystical towers get in sight.

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You might notice the absence of trees.

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The landscape becomes dry as we move east.

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That change is evident from the plane, too.

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We stop at the umpteenth lookout of the day, by these rapids.
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If you ask me, I prefer the horns. The towers might be more attractive…

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…to climbers…

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…who can get to the base of the towers…

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…on a boat like this one.

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Finally, we leave the park with a wonderful sight of river Serrano.

It was a long day, and we still have a three-hour trip back to Punta Arenas. But, in spite of her arthrosis, my mother is planning to come back after she has her hip replaced in a couple of months. She wants to reach some places that she could not go to this time.

As for me, I think this is one of those places that you should visit before you die. Besides, just imagine the cool flight-reports you could post!

Punta Arenas Airport

Reaching PUQ is relatively easy. In our case, we arranged to be picked at our Airbnb by a taxi.

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A taxi will charge 10000 CLP, and the transfer service 5000, so a taxi will be more convenient for two or more people travelling together.

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As for the premises, I have noticed…

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…that Chilean airports are usually modern…

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…and comfortable.

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Most of them follow the same design…

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…with the counters area on one end of the main hall…

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…and the stairs/escalator/elevator in the middle.

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The only downside would be the lack of shops.

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Most of them are gift shops.

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Something more practical would be very welcome, especially considering that PUQ serves passengers flying to destinations…

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…as exotic as Antarctica! Aerovías DAP has commerical flights to the white continent.

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Antarctic Airways and Mineral Airways are DAP's subsidiaries.

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JetSmart is a relatively new ULCC. Unfortunately, their cabin baggage policy is quite strict, and a small bag that you can carry for free in LATAM or Sky Airline (the other Chilean airlines) is paid baggage with JetSmart.

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Looks like some local products are appreciated in other lattitudes.

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I guess they also enjoy a warm woollen sweater in…

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Porvenir is across from Punta Arenas, on Tierra del Fuego (lit. Fireland), the large island that makes up the southern tip of South America. Puerto Williams is the absolute southernost town in the world, on Navarino island. There's also a Chilean settlement in Antarctica called Villa Las Estrellas, where military and scientific staff live with their families, but I'm not sure if that can be called a town.

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Floating above the hall are some ethereal, transparent…

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…"sliced" acrylic whales.

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Not sure if they look like whales…

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…or more like giant spermatozoa. LOL. They might fit better at CCP rather than PUQ!! (CCP = Concepción airport)

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An ATM! You sure take it for granted at an airport, but there's none at ZAL, my local airport!

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PUQ's ground plan.

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First (ground) floor…

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…and upstairs.

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Arrivals is on the other end of the hall.

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Let's go upstairs.

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Apart from the restrooms, a cafeteria, and some tourists that decided not to pay for their last night in Punta Arenas…

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…there isn't much to see airside on the second floor. So we go straight through security.

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Airside, first thing you come across with is BrittShop…

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…and a little cafeteria on the left.

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To baggage claim.

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There's this lounge, which hopefully serves something more than the cheese and ham sandwiches I saw at CCP.

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Those less fortunate can buy more souvenirs.

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At the far end of the boarding room you realize…

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…that you'll be very hungry if you didn't visit the cafeteria when you were airside.

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Well, let's go back…

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…because mom is waiting for the little cafeteria to open.

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Our gate.

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It's 8:35. Shouldn't we be boarding?

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LATAM has adopted the general boarding system in Chile, too. Today we have priority, special needs and general boarding lines.

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See how spotter-friendly PUQ is, with those seats facing the apron. There must be some interesting spotting here.

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You bet! Here's CC-ARN, Aerovias DAP's British Aerospace Avro RJ100.

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And over there…

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…a British antarctic survey aircraft.

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That one I couldn't find on the web.

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Salmon shipping. To… Jamaica?

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Romans had the verb bibere (to drink), from wich many Spanish words originated (beber = to drink; bebido = drunk; etc) But for some mysterious reason, our word for "drinkable" comes from a different Latin word: potare, which also means "to drink". So, meet agua potable (drinkable water)

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In the distance, islands Magdalena and Marta, which we visited in our previous report.

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Ah, CC-BEK is finally here.

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What do I see? Is that some new livery?

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Oh! CC-BEK must have been the plane that took Pope Francis around the country during his unforgettable visit. Unforgettable in the way a plane crash is unforgettable, that is.

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Camouflaged hangars. I suppose they were built for the imminent war between Chile and Argentina in 1978.

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Aerovías DAP's CC-CZP shows off its beautiful black and yellow livery. One of my favorite combinations! In fact, I used to have a black and yellow backpack at school. :D

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Since my mother had to use a walking cane because of her hip arthrosis (she had surgery a week before posting this report and is recovering very well) we were allowed in first.

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The red headrests are a nice touch. Otherwise, LATAM's cabins would be as gray as Sky Airline's.

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The pitch looks good.

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There are two control towers. The older one announces…

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…that we are 139 feet above sea level. It also announces some lack of maintenance.

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The newer one, in the distance, announces nothing. Oh, JetSmart's CC-AWD…

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…features a condor on its tail.

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LATAM has reclining seats. So does Sky Airline, but not JetSmart.

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The condor has flown away. An Ilyushin is parked there.

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In the seat pocket…

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…safety information, BOB menu, and the inflight magazine.

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Mendoza, in Argentina, is only 180km from Santiago. But the Andes are in the way, so the 30-minute flights between both cities are crucial to avoid the 9-hour ride across the mountains.

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Wow! The controls look shiny and new.

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Standard overhead panel.

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A handsome cabin, isn't it?

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That was a flight full of surprises.

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The Flight

Some information of this flight.

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PUQ is a rather busy airport for Chilean standards.

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In fact, it also handles some international flights…

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…and for some time after the mega-earthquake that hit central Chile in 2010…

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…it handled flights coming from Australia and New Zealand.

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It has three runways. More than SCL!

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But this is due to the strong winds, not to the traffic.

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Taxiing with a view of the untamed strait…

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…which still makes the life of seamen miserable.

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Yellow lines. In case of snow, I suppose.

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More protection?

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Lenga trees and the dry cold Patagonian desert vie for domination.

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Their limits are clearly marked by an invisible barrier.

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Last view of the oil refinery…

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…and privately-owned Isabel island.

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For someone like me, used to live surrounded by mountains, these huge flat spaces extending in all directions…

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…are a humbling view.

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But the best part comes…

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…as we approach the glacier-carved…

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…Paine Towers National Park, which we visited only days ago. The Horns on the left.

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…and here in the center.

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Some mountains have been carved into leaf-thin structures…

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…by glaciers like this one, Grey Glaciar.

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For the rest of the flight…

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…the clouds have broken more since our inbound flight one week ago…

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…allowing us to see more…

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…of the ice fields where all these glaciers originate.

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But these views are nothing…

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…compared with what I'll see some days later…

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…in my sencond trip to the area.

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North of the ice fields, the landscape of fjords and islands turns greener.

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These little islands are scattered around the large Chiloé island.

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We'll be arriving in Puerto Montt very soon.

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Yummy! The sole sight of these islands…

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…makes me think of curanto

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…and cancato!

Of course! Salmon farms abound in the area.

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The continent at last.

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Puerto Montt in the background.

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The road connecting Chiloé island to the continent.

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It's a bit cold today. I don't think our young spotters from last week got their mother's permission to sit by the road today.

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Did you know that it's warmer inside the terminal?

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Welcome to PMC.

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Nice! Arriving at the same gate from wich we left.

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The scary LATAM scales are still there.

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The passengers to Santiago are already waiting.

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Wanna live in the middle of the Patagonian forest? (Dorm. = short for dormitorio = bedroom)

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Our baggage is delivered in minutes…

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…and we're ready to take…

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… the bus to Puerto Montt's bus station.

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And what better way to finish this absolutely thrilling week…

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…than making a final spotting…

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…of the plane that brought us here.

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Thanks for reading! :)
See more



Cabin crew10.0

Punta Arenas - PUQ


Puerto Montt - PMC



For decades, PUQ has been the center of intense military and scientific activity. That might explain why it feels a little too "basic" for a commercial airport in an area with a growing tourism industry. However, I have heard that a new terminal (or deep changes to the current one) is being planned.

Clean and efficient. Not much better than PUQ.

The best cabins among Chilean airlines. But their BOB menu is not as good as Sky Airline's.



  • Comment 446878 by
    AK SILVER 845 Comments

    Actually, I only looked at the touristy photos ^^, they are awesome !

  • Comment 447628 by
    loukas 343 Comments

    Hi Nechus, thanks for a great report! You are very lucky in Chile to have almost everything a man could imagine: high mountains, glaciers, ocean, vineyards, warm and cold climate, countryside like in Scotland or New Zealand (maybe there is a desert that you don't have but I'm not sure about that). Great mountain and birds photos! And the great spermatozoa..... :)))

    • Comment 447798 by
      Pilpintu AUTHOR 723 Comments

      Hi, Loukas!

      You are very lucky in Chile to have almost everything a man could imagine

      It's true. It's a real luck that Chile extends from north to south, not from east to west. Otherwise, the landscape would be pretty much the same in the whole coutry!!

      maybe there is a desert that you don't have

      Atacama! I have reported flights to Copiapó, Iquique, and Arica. All those cities are in the desert.

      In fact, the only kind of landscape you won't find in Chile is tropical jungle. We don't have crocodiles, boa contrictors, or piranhas. Quite a relief, anyway! XD But, at least where I live, most tropical fruit like mangos or guavas are imported... and expensive. And I love mangos!! :'(

      And the great spermatozoa

      Yeah! Long live the great spermatozoa!!!

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Comment 448155 by
    707Bob 7 Comments

    What beautiful photos. Makes me want to visit. Thank you.

    • Comment 448163 by
      Pilpintu AUTHOR 723 Comments

      Thanks for dropping by. Go on! You'll enjoy visiting Chile! You'll find everything, from Airbnb to expensive hotels, from street food stalls to expensive restaurants, from the driest desert to ice and penguins... everything! :)

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