Hi and welcome to my latest trip report covering my journey from my home base in Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile for FIDAE air show.
One afternoon, while browsing through Twitter, I saw that FIDAE was taking place next week in Santiago. Surprised as to how come hadn’t I ‘ve noticed this was happening before, I decided to wing it and give it a go. I won't go into the all the hooves that were required to travel to Chile until last week. Now there's no need for vaccine validation or pre-departure testing. You do need to carry travel insurance covering COVID, fill out a health declaration form and be subjected to a random PCR test upon arrival.
I booked my flights five days before travel so they were definitely not the cheapest. I booked myself on both of Chilean low-cost carriers with the outbound flight on Indigo Partners backed JetSmart and my return on Sky Airline (though to be honest I could have flown on a LATAM Boeing 787-9 on the way back for not much more, which would probably have been wiser).
. I originally booked a flight leaving minutes before 7 in the evening. This would let me have my work day in Lima which was convenient. However I received a text message the night before announcing that my flight was delayed by four hours. As I didn’t fancy a 4am arrival into Santiago before my first fair day at FIDAE, I jumped on the phone and managed to switch to the morning flight leaving at 08:30 in the morning.
. I arrived at the airport about two and a half hours before my flight and proceeded straight through security and immigration. It’s not news that Lima airport renovations are way overdue. The airport already looks worn and overcrowded. When going through immigration I couldn’t help to notice how weird it is that they haven’t opened back the e-gates two years and counting after they were shut down for “sanitary reasons” oh well.
Lima airport’s international area has around 15 jet bridges and a handful of remote stands which are used during peak hours. The airport’s renovation plans include the construction of a new runway which is well underway and the construction of a new terminal up to current standards. Now the airport’s operator is trying to get away with building a “modular terminal” next to the current terminal alleging it would have the same capacity as the proposed new terminal. I guess this is probably due to Fraport wanting to reduce their risk exposure in Peru, where unfortunately political instability and institutional degradation is increasing risk of doing business. That change would need to be approved by the ministry of transport and quite frankly would think that logically the airport’s operator should carry out the plan they initially proposed. Once airside I proceeded to the lounge.
Lima airport has two lounges operated by the airport. One lounge is open for all business class passengers and airline status holders, while the other welcomes all those with priority pass or Mastercard lounge key cards. Both lounges are quite similar with the one for airline premium passengers having slightly better food and drink options. Flying on an ULCC I obviously went to the latter and sat at the second floor and grabbed some breakfast.
There is an assisted food counter where one is given a form to fill out with what you want to eat or drink. Additionally guests are limited to one complimentary alcoholic drink from the bar. I grabbed a coffee, along with some OJ, bread and some potato and sausage based dish.
After around forty minutes in the lounge I proceeded to the gate where the plane was about to dock in from Santiago. The airport was relatively busy at this time in the morning. There were LATAM departures to Santiago, Bogotá and Mexico City, a Delta Boeing 767-400s bound for Atlanta, an American Airlines A321neo departing to Dallas, amongst others.
After a very quick disembarkation process we were allowed to board. There was some arguing at the gate from some passages who did not know they had to pay to bring a carry on bag onboard, creating some tension at the gate. I was one of the last passengers to board the aircraft and settled into seat 1D, which I was assigned to me at check in. Score .I guess JetSmart fills all the window and aisle seats first, so when I finally managed to check in for my new flight they were no regular window of aisle seats left, hence the “upgrade”. The flight was 65% full, with empty middle seats in almost every row. I was able to move into the window seat which was unoccupied.
The crew was nice enough to allow seat swaps, I guess as long as seats were in the same "category". I was sat next to an older lady and the crew let her grandson move to the empty aisle seat next to her, which is of course appreciated.
JetSmart's A320s seat 186 passengers in a single class configuration. I believe this is the greatest number of seats airlines can fit in these aircraft.
Our flight time was announced to be 3 hours and 10 minutes. As we climbed up one could see the 2nd runway construction well underway. Up in the air, it was a very clear day, which is unusual. From the right side of the plane San Lorenzo Island came into sight.
As we reached cruising speed the seatbelt sign was switched off. Oddly enough, there were no signs of buy on board service. I spent most of the flight doing some work on my laptop which thankfully it wasn’t an issue due to being on the bulkhead which has regular sized tray tables that unfold from the armrest. Regular seats have tiny tray tables though. Seats do not feature power outlets or USB ports, so better charge your devices before the flight.
Toilets in this A320neo are tiny as it is fitted with Airbus cabin flex configuration which has both toilets at the back of the aircraft crammed behind the gallery. There is a removable partition between the two, which can be removed for passengers requiring assistance. The front toilet was for crew use only due to sanitary protocol.
Buy on board service only started two hours into the flight. I bought a bundle deal for around 5 US dollars for review purposes, which included a drink and a sweet or savory snack. I chose some hard doughnuts along with a coke. The crew was very friendly and was keen to interact with passengers which is nice.
We descended into Santiago landing at 13:20 local time a few minutes behind schedule and docked at the far edge of the new international terminal.
As you walk out of the plane you are greeted with the sanitary control station where an agent validates all of your docs. This Is the point where passengers are selected for a random PCR test, I believe based on the last number of your travel document. I was selected for the test which is done before clearing immigration. Thankfully the process was quick and the test was gently done by a friendly lady. Then you have to show your test slip proving that you’ve had the test before being allowed to clear through immigration. As there are not a lot of flights arriving early in the afternoon I was able to clear immigration in a jiffy.
Thanks for reading and stay turned for the return portion of the trip with more detail on Santiago’s new international terminal.
Bonus : Click here display hide
I'll let the FIDAE pictures do the talking. It was definitely a very enjoyable experience, with some superb demonstrations.
Lima - LIM
Santiago - SCL
I enjoyed this flight with JetSmart quite a bit. The airline provided a hassle free travel experience from A to B with friendly crew, which helps improve the travel experience. Of course being sat in the bulkhead for no extra charge helped a lot in making this flight more enjoyable.
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La verdad que FIDAE estuvo super bien organizado y con buenas demostraciones. Ojalá puedas darte unos días para la feria en la próxima edición. Es verdad que SKY y LATAM tienen mejores asientos en sus flotas de 320s, pero al final del día "cash is king" y la gente termina sacrificando confort por ahorrarse unos centavos.
Oh wow, I didn't know it was random testing. I had understood it was mandatory for all international arrivals, so that's great to know! I'm not going to Chile until the fall so the arrival PCR test may not even exist by then--either way I built in a lot of time before a connecting flight in case it took a long time.
Correct! It used to be 180, which was tight enough as it is, but now it's 186 with some galley and lav re-configuration. Either way, you're lucky you got a bulkhead seat since it's tight 28" pitch everywhere else...not great for a 3h+ flight.
Thanks for sharing!
Used to be that way but now its random fortunately. Hope this is scrapped too by the time you visit.
The complementary bulkhead seat definitely helped a lot in making this flight enjoyable. Otherwise, probably my report conclusion would not have been the same.
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