She has pestered me ever since I started at my current job.
Denounce her? Yes. But I can also find ways to make her life miserable. In fact, this flight is part of…
An evil plan
Everything starts when I see the Chilean calendar for 2018.
We celebrate our Independence Day on September 18, and this year it's a Tuesday. Add to that our Army Day on September 19. Moreover, the Congress agreed to make Monday 17 a holiday, too, so we have…
Only Thursday and Friday will be working days that week! The perfect opportunity to go back to Montevideo, Uruguay, and visit some places I couldn't visit in my previous trip for lack of time!
But all the other teachers in my school will surely want to take those two days off. I have to act quickly.
As early as April 4 I purchase my ticket for September 17, returning on Friday 21.
I get the confirmation on my mail.
Fast forward six months to August 2018 and you can hear a loud "WHAAAAAT??!!" coming from the Principal's office. I'm telling her about my trip six weeks in advance. She will have to find a substitute teacher, and the other teachers will say "Why him, but not us?" She could say no, but I know she won't because I have proof of her bad behavior.
She's fuming! As soon as I leave her office with my authorization in my hands - and an ear-to-ear grin - she instructs her bootlicker, the Manager, to email this message to all the teachers: "Leaves of absence won't be granted for the day immediately before or after a holiday, or for two consecutive days."
This mail also has the intention to make me lose face among my colleagues. They should be agry with me because she has taken these measures. But we know her well and we all laugh because the granting of leaves of absence in Chile is regulated by law, and the limitations described in that email are illegal!
Well, that's the way things used to work in my school under that principal and that manager.
But by the time I'm writing this report I had a little conversation with the school owner…
…and they both have been fired!!!
MWAAAA HA HA HA HA…….
Oh, Happy Day!
Monday, September 17, turns out to be a wonderful spring day. The air is crisp, and huge fluffy clouds float in the deep, blue sky. This puts me in such a good mood!
I kiss my mother goodbye with a Voy y vuelvo, (lit. I go and come back), our way to say "I'll be right back." She rolls her eyes.
You normally say voy y vuelvo when you intend to be away only for some minutes, as in "Oh, I need some milk from the supermarket. Voy y vuelvo." Well, this is what this trip feels like, because Valdivia and Montevideo - so distant and unrelated as they are - happen to be incredibly well connected! By some happy chance, the Sky Airline flights from Valdivia to Santiago and from Santiago to Montevideo are perfectly synched, so you can make the connection with no hurries or long waits.
So Montevideo is - so to say - just around the corner for me.
This corner, to be exact, where I can wait for any transportation going the way of the airport. Any of the little buses (aka micros) going to San José every half an hour will do. Like this one.
Yes, this is a very humble micro, but it's more than enough for the 25-minute ride to the airport. There are very good bus services to travel all around Chile, too, even the so called salón cama buses, which are the equivalent of first class in flights. To learn more about buses in Chile, you can read this British lady's blog describing her own experience.
I pay about one USD and the micro drops me by the road outside ZAL.
Few airports will welcome you with a stroll among flowering trees and singing bids. I told you this is a glorious spring day.
ZAL is not a concessioned airport…
…but it is managed by the DGAC - Dirección General de Aviación Civil. As many things managed by the state, changes are slow here.
The main hall looks the same. The only difference is the amount of people. Only a couple of years ago ZAL received only one flight per day. It can reach seven now.
There's something new! That screen. But it's not being used as FIDS.
It's used for broadcasting a Health Ministry teaching campaign. From a conversation between an eyed choripán (bread and sausage) and an hallulla (a bread roll) - staples in the Chilean diet - we learn that we must find healthier options. And the creative team was paid for that!
We are also taught that - due to a recent case of red tide in the south of the country - we must not eat mollusks, and that the toxin is not eliminated by vinegar, lemon juice, or even cooking.
Can you tell me if my flight is on time, lady?
Even though it's early and the female guard at security check kindly warns me that the only amenities airside are the restrooms, I prefer to go airside at once.
BTW, I have no photo of this, but a family with two adolescents are going through security check before me. One of the kids carries a plastic katana, and the other a wooden bow and arrows! The official tells them that those items must go in the cargo bay. The father is furious and complains that they're just toys. He exclaims "Qué estupidez!" I think "Oops. Somebody is not flying today." But then he heads back to the counters, grumbling.
The waiting room as I arrive.
LATAM almost ready to leave.
I'm sitting next to a lady with two male companions. One of them is reading aloud an email sent by someone who wrote a song, and wants her to buy it if she's interested. From their conversation I learn that she is Gloria Simonetti!!! This name probably means nothing to you, but she was a very popular Chilean singer in the 70s and 80s. I'd love to tell her "I used to listen to your songs on the radio when I was a child" but it wouldn't be very flattering, I guess. I'm too shy to talk to her or ask for an autograph or a selfie, so the only "souvenir" I keep is a photo of her back when she was leaving. XD
While our plane comes…
…I have the time to compare Sky Airline's baggage allowance with that of JetSmart, the other Chilean LCC.
Sky Airline has three different tarifas (fares): Zero, Plus and Full. JetSmart has only one fare which is similar to Sky's Zero fare.
Both LCCs make a difference between bolso de mano (a free 25x35x45cm "hand bag"); equipaje de mano (25x35x55cm paid "hand baggage"); and checked baggage. Measurements are similar on both LCCs, but when it comes to "hand baggage", like my faithful green bag…
Time to board. Only a single "general boarding" line. Not my favorite way to board, but better than JetSmart's three "zones". The zones system is chaotic in small airports like ZAL because the lines wind around the waiting room and nobody can find their line. Besides, in my last JetSmart flight, those passengers in the wrong line were being sent to the end of the correct one when they reached the airline staff checking their boarding passes! People were outraged!
This time we have to wait, but only for the incoming passengers to disembark.
…which doesn't mean we are moving fast. :(
Sky displays a sticker with the #OrgulloSKY (SkyPride) hashtag.
The reasons for pride would be: Higher safety rating, Seventh most punctual low cost airline in the world, Highest punctuality performance, Highest customer satisfaction, and Best customer experience. Not bad, especially considering that Sky is a local airline. JetSmart is part of a US holding.
A passenger is wanted. Badly.
Some additional information about this flight.
Is the tow supposed to stay on the apron?
Or does the guy simply enjoy a close view?
Legroom is barely OK. Could be better, but I can't forget that trip on LATAM, when a woman with a baby in her arms wasn't able to stand up from her seat because of the small pitch, or the clautrophobic cabin on my LATAM trip from Sao Paulo to Florianópolis. So I won't complain.
The IFE consists of ads…
…and a magazine that always features interviews to well-known showbiz personalities like Francisco Saavedra, who hosts a TV show showing off the natural beauty of little known corners of Chile.
Yes. Chile is vegetarian hell. (And I am the devil) >:)
Something I love about Sky is their BOB menu. It's less expensive and more complete than JetSmart's…
…though their muffins have shrunk, as of late. :(
For some readers this was surprising: You can pay 17 USD and change your seat during the flight. (If there are seats available, of course!)
This is the first time I pay attention to that little hole in the window. I always thought that aircraft windows were made of two layers: The inner plastic panel, and the "real window behind. So I wondered "Why doesn't the cabin lose pressure or explode if the inner atmosphere is escaping through those holes?!" But then I watched this video and learned that aircraft windows are more complex than that, and that the "bleeding hole" is in the middle pane, not the outer one. :)
I like the looks of these thick, strong-looking engines so much more that the thin B737 engines.
I don't know. They make me feel safer.
If one of those bolts, screws and rivets failed… This reminds me of that American Airlines flight that crashed because the engines of a DC 10 were intentionally unmounted and mounted the wrong way for maintenance in order to save time and money. Article here. Video here.
The flight was, as some of you say, uneventful. But actually, I'm having fun at the conversation between the lady sitting next to me, in 6E, and the boy in 6D. He seems to have Asperger's syndrome. You can tell by his robotic speech. The lady was a bit scared at first, but I told her that I have several students like him and that they are incredibly intelligent, and they usually concentrate in one favorite topic. They became good friends!!
We make it to Santiago when the sun has just hidden behind the western hills.
Ah! The cherry on the cake.
Buses always drop us here at baggage claim.
Since I'm only carrying my "equipaje de mano" - whose size nobody bothered to check, anyway, even though I am also carrying a backpack and paid only for the zero fare - I just head for the exit…
…and walk happily to the far end of the terminal, international departures. My next flight is departing in three hours time.
Thanks for reading! :)
Valdivia - ZAL
Santiago - SCL
A flight that allows me to compare our two local LCCs, Sky Airline and JetSmart. Sky leads with reclinable seats, a good in-flight magazine, and a complete and not-so-expensive BOB menu. Besides, they can boast being among the most punctual LCCs in the world and delivering great passenger experience, as demonstrated by their many awards.
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