This year it's a Monday, so we have a long weekend.
Perfect for a necessary visit to my family near Santiago, and for a brief report on the latest developments at good ol' Pichoy, my small local airport.
BTW, this is my 50th report. I can't believe it!! :O
Oh boy. No joy at Pichoy!
Being such a small airport, a visit to Pichoy is usually an enjoyable, even relaxing, experience.
I never care to be at the airport more than an hour before ETD, and that's why the fact that I'm finishing school 90 minutes before ETD today doesn't worry me at all. I could perfectly go downtown and take a bus that will leave me on the road outside the terminal some 30 minutes before ETD.
But for some inexplicable reason I have made arrangements with an Uber driver to pick me up at the school as soon as I finish my work.
And this saves me!!
As I enter the main hall I have some trouble making sense of the crowd inside. I ask one of the people in a queue that stretches all along the length of the main hall and beyond "Is this the queue for check-in?"
"No," he replies. "This is the queue for security check!"
I never imagined I would ever see this level of congestion at ZAL!! I join the queue…
…right next to the men's restroom. I have no idea if I'll make it through security check on time. I can only cross my fingers!
There used to be a small cafeteria and candy shop here.
Slowly but steadily, we move past arrivals (baggage claim at the bottom)…
…and across the main hall.
Transfer services and car rentals on my right.
Yes we can. yes we can…
Only one turn to the left and we'll be there.
Yaaawwn… Free wi-fi? B*tch, please! Who needs that!! Pichoy offers some top class excitement for passengers trapped in a queue.
I can feel my adrenaline flowing. Make it yellow! Make it yellow!
Woo - hoo! The final stretch.
This is new, but I haven't see it on yet.
The gates to baggage claim are open. Oops! This might mean that my plane has already arrived.
Once in the boarding room… yikes! This is crowded! Two flights are boarding at the moment: LATAM and JetSmart. One of the gates leads to the jetbridge, and the other to the apron. We are told to queue up according to zones, but nobody seems to know even which queue is for each airline, let alone which zones. It's chaotic.
There are angry faces because those passengers in the wrong zone are being sent to the correct one, which means going to the back of the line again. If the lines were straight, we could easily identify them, but in such cramped space the lines meander all around the small room between seats, pillars, bags and other people, mixing people from all zones and airlines. You hear a lot of "Is this the line for zone 1?" "I don't know! I don't even know if this is the queue for the restroom!" I make it to the jetbridge but some people are really pissed off.
Some months later I read in the news about the probable reason for the crowded airport I have seen today. A local senator blames officials of the previous socialist government for the loss of resources that had been destined to the improvement of ZAL. 13 million USD had been assigned to enlarge the terminal, but the money was eventually assigned to other projects due to the inaction of the local authorities.
We are held for some minutes while the incoming passengers deplane.
Boarding is sluggish today. On my right…
LATAM is still waiting for its passengers.
On my left, today's ride is…
…CC-AWE! Two reports on CC-AWE in a row. :)
At long last.
The cabin looks new and smells new… because it is new! Five months old by now.
The seats are basic…
…but I like this sleak design.
The contents of the seat pocket.
The menu (?) has been simplified to a single sheet of paper.
The prices are a little bit on the expensive side, aren't they?
There must be a mistake there. Combo 5 is more expensive than combo 4 in Chilean pesos, but combo 4 is more expensive than combo 5 in US dollars!
On the back, "Now you can change your seat while you fly." There's a range of prices depending on the seat you choose, and if you're on a domestic or international flight. Anyway, it looks less expensive than the same service on Sky Airline, as you'll see on the next report.
JetSmart's "smart guy" in his denim shirt… looks so… er… I mean… er… isn't he cute?
The captain is in a good mood today! We all laugh heartily when he comes over the PA system with the words "Tripulation! Preparar la cabina para el despegue." (Tripulation! Prepare the cabin for takeoff) He jokes by making up this "new" word in English. Tripulación is Spanish for crew. But he also uses a strong accent, as if he didn't know any English at all. (Well, I've heard many FAs speaking English like that, I must say)
Good bye, tow…
…and good bye us.
It might be only my impression…
…and climbing above the clouds…
…is always a very quick thing.
Because of the low rain clouds, perhaps? In fact, Valdivia is very rainy.
The cabin during the flight…
…when the BOB service has started. But I'll skip it.
Watching the landscape will be enought for today. Even though darkness is falling over cities like Talca…
…the last golden rays of the evening are painting the mountains with bright colors….
…especially as we approach Santiago.
So sad. Beautiful Aculeo lagoon turned into crusty wasteland during the summer.
Descending over Santiago…
…we have to make a U-turn to the left…
…in order to land from north to south.
And we make it to SCL…
…at a beautiful time of day.
We dock at the north side of the terminal, used by domestic and international flights.
Newly built VIP lounge above the exit to baggage claim.
I wish this were the end of the trip, but there's still a 1-and-a-half-hour bus ride ahead, which can become 2 or 3 hours on a critical day like this, when half of the smog-choked inhabitants of Santiago want to escape from the city. Ugh!
Valdivia - ZAL
Santiago - SCL
My small local airport is having trouble to keep up with the times. While ticket prices fall, passenger numbers grow, and air travel becomes more and more popular in my country, Pichoy (ZAL) slowly becomes unable to deal with the influx of passengers.
ULCC JetSmart does its job very well. Nice flight. BOB a bit expensive, IMHO.
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