Welcome to the fourth and last leg of this trip around Argentina.
If you want to enjoy (so to say) the experience of flying this little-known airline onboard a rickety MD-80, visiting tiny (but growing) IGR, or simply seeing some great views of Buenos Aires and Iguazú falls, you're invited to check the reports to legs 1, 2, and 3.
Let's start with a brief visit to a historical corner of Buenos Aires called La Boca.
Pre-Flight Bonus - La Boca
Buenos Aires is divided into many neighborhoods, and the neghborhood called La Boca is located next to the mouth (la boca) of river Matanzas, aka Riachuelo.
La Boca was settled by Italian (most precisely, Genoese) immigrants, and it was always plagued by poverty, especially after an outbreak of yellow fever. The richest inhabitants moved to the north of the city looking for a healthier place. The poor stayed behind.
Houses were made of scrap metal sheets, and painted with leftover paint from the port. A house could be painted with many different colors because they didn't have enough paint of the same color to paint the whole house…
…and the tradition has been kept.
Housing in La Boca consisted of conventillos (tenements)…
…that have been turned into gift shops…
…and tango clubs.
I came early in the morning, when most shops were just opening.
It must be very interesting in the evening, or at night…
…but I was warned that La Boca can be a dangerous place when it's dark. Even by day, you shouldn't stray away from the main shopping streets.
In fact, there's no Uber service from here to the rest of the city. You must take a taxi or a bus.
But if you're looking for local history, tango, or a splash of color…
…you will love La Boca!
As you might have seen in the report for leg 2, AEP is a long and narrow airport.
Andes counters are open more than two hours before departure time.
Fantastic, because I'll be free to go for a stroll…
…around the premises.
This was the farthest I came the last time.
Not much to see beyond. Just the arrivals area…
…and some cafeterias.
There are several shops like this one. Very important if you have to buy your SUBE card, which you'll need in order to use the public transtport system, aka colectivos (buses)
And you can also get these!! It's been ages since I had my last Kinder Sorpresa! They are banned in Chile now. You can't use toys to lure children into eating high-calorie foods. So be careful! You can be fined if you try to smuggle them into the country.
Going back on my steps I arrive at the other end. So, AEP is divided into a series of smaller buildings, like the wagons of a train. This wagon in particular is the domestic flights area.
Upstairs, it's connected to international departures. Just a little peek…
…because there's a lot of people and I don't want to be late. The FIDS says…
…that my flight to Bariloche is en horario (according to schedule), but no gate has been assigned yet. The last time we didn't know our gate number until after departure time!
I didn't know they had capibaras in Argentina! The largest rodents in the world.
Evidently there's a lack of seats around here.
Once in the queue, we are sent to different lines depending on our destination.
The segregation continues as we near the check points.
At SCL, those screens show instructions about the security check process. In Argentina they play a loop about missing people, or rewards in exchange for information to solve murder cases. It's a long loop!
The info about security check is here.
A small duty free after safety check…
…and the access to the gates is on your left.
It was fast in spite of the crowd.
According to my boarding pass, boarding time will be at 11:30…
So I still have one hour to relax.
But the story repeats itself and we aren't assigned a gate until after boarding time.
So don't get anxious. You know what to expect at AEP.
The newspaper announces 3.7% inflation for July, the highest level in the last two years.
Gate 9 is downstairs. We'll be using a bus!
This gate has a door! I didn't see that at other gates.
No tomar fotos. I wonder what that means. XD
That was a redundant warning. It's a miracle that I can see something outside. These windows really need some cleaning!
Austral Líneas Aéreas - a subsidiary of Aerolíneas Argentinas - has a full-Embraer fleet.
Aww. No, you won't. Too bad. I'll never forget your brush-painted interiors…
…or your door fixed with duct-tape.
Very low clouds today! AEP usually closes…
…due to bad weather in winter.
Lookie here! LV-HHK brought me from Bariloche…
…and it will also take me back there!
I'm not sure if this is my good or bad luck. I wanted to fly on MD-80s but this happened only in one of the four flights of this trip. :(
Moreover, according to transponder1200.com, there are only two 737s in Andes' fleet - LV-HKK and LV-GWL - and they will be returned to ther lessor three months after this flight.
So, since October 2018, Andes' fleet has been made up of only five aircraft: Five MD-80s!! (Time to update the background image?)
Well, all in all, and after the "vintage" experience on LV-WGN, its a good thing that I'll fly in a modern cabin…
…that has not been fixed…
…I repeat, that HAS NOT BEEN FIXED WITH DUCT TAPE. Right? … Gosh.
Hm. At least my armrest looks OK.
Well, as Dwayne Johnson said in Skyscraper "If you can't fix it with duct tape, you're not using enough duct tape." XD
Meanwhile, outside in the cold…
…the ground staff brings the baggage.
Is that all? Really?
There must have been more before I looked out of the window, but I'm not sure. The last time I saw such little volume of baggage was with Latin American Wings, and it was not a good omen.
A little check of my duct-taped environment. Antimacassar showing Andes destinations.
Seatback pocket contents.
OMG, a seatback pocket inside a seatback pocket! I never saw that before.
…suggesting you reduce your salt intake.
I hope nothing will fall from that luggage bin.
It seems to be falling apart.
The overhead panel with those funny, lumpy lamps.
Fuel gets loaded…
…and the safety speech is given manually.
There they come for us.
In a minute we should be…
…on our way.
Welcome to Duct Tape Airlines - The Flight
Some additional information about this flight.
This way? You're very kind.
After a short pushback…
…we taxi past…
…Andes' other 737…
…towards the west end…
…of the runway.
The rain is spoiling my plane spotting, which is not very abundant, either. An Avianca turbo prop there.
The tops of Buenos Aires high rises look amazing when they poke out of the fog. I hope I'll have the chance to see them this time.
Here we go…
…into the fog…
…above Arturo Umberto Illia Av. and Jerónimo Salguero Street.
Nope. The fog is too high this time. :(
We won't happen to see much of the plains this time, either.
Yes. I can hear you saying "Phew! We'll skip the Geography lesson today!"
The snack service starts.
They have hot water this time! (They didn't onboard the MD-80)
BTW, in my previous flight I learned that MD-80s are terribly noisy at the back, but this 737 is not very different. I have a very akward conversation with the FA:
FA A-u-a–e-e? ME Huh? FA A-u-ca-o-en-u-e?? ME Er… huh? FA A–u–car–o–en–u–a–teee!! ME … ME … ME Huh? FA (Visibly pissed off) AZÚCAR O ENDULZANTE???? (Sugar or sweetener?)
The contents of the snack box has not varied.
I just wonder what happens if I pull a little…?
Looks like an easy way to "re-brand" the cabin.
Passengers kill time reading, talking, and playing on their cellphones for lack of some other kind of IFE.
Isn't this box supposed to be precisely that? I read about these metal boxes somewhere but I forgot. Filthy carpeting, BTW.
But there's no better IFE that flight-reporting, don't you think? I don't even notice when we reach the edge of lake Nahuel Huapi.
It's cold in Patagonia!
Under the clouds…
…Bariloche comes into view.
Even though it's on a lake…
…Bariloche doesn't have large beaches…
…but it's a paradise for many other activities, from water sports and trekking…
…to fishing, horse riding, and climbing…
…and a lot of skiing.
There's great tourism infrastucture, from humble airbnb rentals to luxurious hotels where - as rumour has it - even El Chapo came to hide in. Check some interesting websites here, and here.
Finally, after we cross the road that will take me home the next day…
…we make it back to BRC.
End of the road - BRC
Clap, clap, clap, clap…
Why do people clap after landing? I don't think the captain can hear it from the cockpit, can he?
Well, it makes more sense than clapping at the movies, at least! Now THAT is silly!
YPF is the largest Argentine oil company.
The weather is beastly today!
I wouldn't like to be them.
I could bet he didn't even take his pajamas off this morning!
While fuel loading continues…
…I say good bye to my duct-taped seat…
…and disembark with a view of the control tower and the cafeteria (the pointy roof)
The logo of the Argentine Soccer Association. Oops. If they could see the future…!
The steepest jetbridge…
…I've ever seen.
A last peek at LV-HHK before it gets stored.
Bottom left, the "international boarding room" of my first flight in this series. On the right, the other waiting room (with the woodpecker). We'll be coming back soon!
…baggage claim, which is usually…
…the last stop…
…in a domestic flight.
Not at BRC.
You must clear a phytosanitary control. No kind of red meat, sausages, salted meat, fruits, vegetables, or plant cuttings will make it through.
I brought a coati with me, but it's a wooden one, so I'm free to go!
I remember that taxis were outside on the left…
…but the transfer vans are outside, and they're usually cheaper than a taxi. Not at BRC! I suggest you ask first. A taxi might cost the same and be faster. Don't forget your SUBE card if you want to take the bus!
Thanks for reading! :)
Andes Líneas Aéreas
Buenos Aires - AEP
San Carlos de Bariloche - BRC
My fourth experience with Andes Líneas Aéreas, which might well be the last one considering their decaying cabins, their disappointing snack service, their rising prices, the increasing competition, and the troubled Argentine economy.
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