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The average flight time is 1 hours and 29 minutes.More information
They say that some things never repeat themselves, like lightning striking in the same spot twice or Oumuamua coming back to our Solar System.
I thought that Pilpintu flying W would add to this list. But I was wrong!
Well, I was about to be right, but in the end the stars aligned correctly. There was no "dis - aster," i.e. no misaligned (dis) stars (aster)
I purchased this round trip ticket back in December 2020, but it wasn't until some weeks before the flight that I received an offer from LATAM to upgrade to Premium Eco. It was quite a surprise, for I didn't even know that LATAM had introduced this service in their domestic flights in Chile. I think this is a complete first. They invited me to bid for a W seat. There was a sliding bar to choose your bidding amount, and the max bid was 15 USD. I bid and received this confirmation.
They said that if my offer was accepted they would send me an email with a confirmation between 12 and 2 hours before my departure. And they meant it! Three hours before the flight they informed me that my request was in stand-by. Waiting for higher bids from other passengers, perhaps?
It looks like they REALLY expected someone else to bid higher, because my upgrade was not confirmed until less than two hours before the flight.
And so I was assigned asiento 1F.
I almost forgot about Delfina!
As my holidays were fast approaching, I wanted to be sure that I had all the documents required to travel during the pandemic, particularly because Valdivia (my point of origin) and San Pedro de Atacama (my destination) were both in the second most restrictive stage of the government's plan to contain the virus.
So I whatsapped LATAM and got a reply from their answering system, who introduced "her"self as Delfina.
"Hi, I'm Delfina, LATAM's virtual assistant. If you ask me short, direct questions I can help you with:
A- Information about your trip
B- Answers to frequent questions about traveling
How can I help you today?"
"Delfina." An unusual name in Chile nowadays. You might find some grandmother called Delfina. I wonder why LATAM thinks that a virtual assistant has to be female. Could it be that women have better social skills? Let me put Delfina to the test.
"Sorry, but I didn't understand. I'm learning." Hm! She is very good at pretending not to care. She must be a female.
With his pase de movilidad (certifying that you've got both doses of the jab) and his pasaporte sanitario (a sworn statement about your places of origin and destination, and your health condition) Pilpintu can permeate any barriers.
That's how I make it to the farthest corner of TurBus bus station, where you can buy your ticket to the airport over there, on the right, and take any of the buses that leave every 30 minutes from over here, on the left. The ride will take about 35 minutes, as they make a stop halfway at Pajaritos bus/subway station.
At SCL anyone can enter the hall. Inside - on the domestic side - SCL implemented a checkpoint where you will be asked to produce the aforementioned documents on your cellphone.
In the rush to go through the checkpoint, this photo came out blurry. Excellent! That saved me the work of having to blur all those faces! As you see, there's a row of health officials checking your papers. The shops behind them have been closed. Noooo! My favorite shop for DVDs and vinyl records used to be there! :'''(
Safety check is always fast at SCL, no matter how long the queue.
It's a busy time of day airside at SCL.
The FIDS shows that this is my gate today, but I see no signs of boarding activity yet, so I have time…
…for a brief reconnaissance stroll. I came to this corner for some spotting, but I see SCL is soaked in the Olympic spirit and decided to offer some discounts if you made a display of some physical skill…
…which is not my cup of tea, so I just keep walking. Skytrax recently released their Skytrax COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating in which SCL… er… I wonder if they even know that SCL exists!! But the dispensers ARE here. You can't deny that they deserve a star. A dying brown dwarf, at least?
And although SCL has taken a less radical approach to ensuring social distancing than CJC and have not removed any seats…
…they make it clear that some seats are no disponible.
More hand sanitizer at the gate. So what else do Skytrax expect?! Bubble wrap??
Some flight details before we board.
Ah! It looks like being in group 1 pays off better at SCL than at ZAL. We have a line of our own! (At ZAL, groups 1, 2 and 3 boarded together)
Definitely, today was not supposed to be a spotting day for me.
Con cuea I can see we're boarding CC-BAK.
Air traveler's limbo.
I didn't expect to get a good shot of the fuselage when I took this photo on the go!
Continuing the Premium Eco experience, here's the blocked middle seat. Too bad that this tray is angled and that can't be fixed! The FA just put the cup of coffee on it. It didn't spill because it was half full. Or half empty? It depends on your mood.
Lots of legroom in row 1, but still uncomfortable for me. I hate it when I can not stretch my legs completely…
…so I have to use that little space in the corner.
By the way…
…Oh, I see. An electrical outlet.
LAN's spirit is still around.
Poor CC-BOB. It looks like he won't be going anywhere soon. (Yeah, I know it's "she" in English. I just can't get used to that)
Yeepee. It's Premium time!
Oh, look down there! Constitución, on the mouth of river Maule. Lots of tourism until some years ago. A new pulp plant on the beach put an end to that. The town's original name was Nueva Bilbao. Bilbao is (or used to be) a densely forested area in the north of Spain. So was Nueva Bilbao. There are only pine plantations down there now. No wonder the whole of central Chile is quickly turning into a desert.
Our Premium experience includes a bag of chips made from potatoes native to Chiloé island.
And good coffee. Juan Valdez is my favorite.
A place I want to visit some day: Mocha island. (Ch as in cheese, not as in mocha coffee) It's one of the few places in Chile where primary forests still exists.
Oh my goodness! Carahue and river Imperial. I've never stopped at Carahue but it's in the way to the windy, stony beach of Puerto Saavedra, which I visited once or twice when I was a kid. On the left, lake Budi…
…a salt water lake.
Those views of Puerto Saavedra and lake Budi bring back some nice childhood memories. Who'd have said…
…that a plane can take you to different places and also to different times.
I went on a long trip hoping to forget and heal.
It's no good.
I buried her in my garden. Along with my heart.
Airlines are resorting to unexpected strategies to recover in a post pandemic world. Down here in Chile, we are surprised to see LATAM introducing Premium Economy in their domestic flights. I couldn't miss the opportunity, and obtained my upgrade for as little as 15 USD, which could be a sign that W has not become very popular yet. The key aspect of their W offer seems to be space, with more legroom and a blocked middle seat. But a cereal bar, a bag of crisps and a coffee is still sooo Y, isn't it?