Air travel  (Anchorage to Ushuaia in 94 hours)

The only value we have as humansIs the risks we are willing to take 
Ernest Hemingway in movie seen on airplane trip “papa Hemingway in Cuba”

Currently sitting in Santiago Chile airport on a 5 hour layover. Arrived here at 3:30 pm after boarding in Los Angeles at 8 pm last night. 13.5 hours on the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” on a full flight. Now Jeanne is asleep on chair here in transit lounge.  (The transit lounge allows us to not go through immigration control). 

We are asking ourselves how did we do this to ourselves.  We know we do not do night flights.  And the past years I have tried to break up long flights.  One can fly across the United States in one day but when you arrive you are so exhausted it negates any benefit of having more days at destination.  When flying now to east coast I try and spend a night in Seattle.  Makes life easier.  

Hence our layover in Los Angeles.  We kept asking ourselves why we did the night flight leaving Sunday night at 11 pm arriving Los Angeles at 6 am.  My second cousin Vickie, who  we realized we had not seen each other since teen agers, picked us up at 6 am as she claimed, and it was true, lives 10 minutes from airport. We promptly fell asleep for 3 hours before beginning our visit to the city of angels, although did stop at an outdoor restaurant for breakfast enroute to her house.  Coming from a more rural background and Alaska I do not consider LA a wondrous place having not having been there for any time in decades.  Not that I would want to live there but it was a stupendous visit.  First day after waking up Vickie asked what we wanted to do in the area.  My family used to go there as kids every summer to visit relatives and for three weeks we were busy with something new every day, and ever year.  Amazing the things there are to do.  But all we wanted was to walk, hence we walked about the neighborhood.  I was entranced with the surfboard carriers for bicycles, and folks just walking to the beach a few blocks away.  Great just seeing the community of El Segundo.  (LA seems to comprise not only the city, but numerous small towns one never knows are distinct as their borders are just the streets). 

Manhatten beach pier
El segundo beach

Next day (yesterday) did the same only this time drove about 2 miles to a beach walk.  Their is a paved bike path which apparently goes for about 25 miles and is not a great place to walk as bikers ride like me.  But the pedestrian path is great with numerous multimillion dollars small condo, houses on one side and beach with surfers, volleyball nets, players, and several just beach sitters.  (The town of Manhatten Beach is the world capital of beach volleyball, so they say).  Wondrous to not do anything like Griffith park or Disneyland or whatever but just visit the local habitats.  Breakfast lunch at another superb outdoor restaurant.  Then back to car and a wondrous afternoon solving world problems.  (Once again no one else cares for our  solutions and I have forgotten the answers already). 

 

Breakie
Peruvian Andes 6000 plus meter peaks

And the journey continues.  Currently in the air an hour south of Buenos Aires on theoretically the last flight of this section.  24 hours ago we arrived in Santiago  and had a somewhat pleasant 6 hour stay in transit area.  An hour late departing but for us it just meant less time on the Buenos Aires layover which was to be an allnighter.  We were not looking forward to it as already a bit sleep deprived, and not enough time for a hotel.   That was the reason I believe we did this version. 

Seems all flights to Ushuaia depart early morning and most require a change of airports in Buenos Aires.  It was difficult to arrange, enough so that we went to a travel agent who worked through the intricacies.  But I believe we were so intent on not staying in a hotel that one night, we forgot the miseries to ensue of the schedule we created.  But it was supposed to be a 5-6 hour layover with a 5 am departure in Buenos Aires.  Best laid plans and such.  

The layover began to go bad on arrival when we had to retrieve our bags which were checked through to Ushuaia, to clear customs.  At other places where this is done, you go through customs and Then put bags back on carousel and they continue on.  Here though it meant going out and to check in, which on our arrival was closing at 11 pm. They said too early to check in for 5 am flight and we had to keep bags.  Asked where best place to sleep in airport was and workers did not know.  We roamed a bit in the somewhat large 2 terminal airport, getting kicked out of a few places as would upset cleaning regimen.  Finally found a place in hall where one could snake yourself around the armrests and lie down a bit.  Airports love armrests!  I chose the floor.  A marble floor but managed about 3 fitful hours of pseudo sleep, locking my bags together to prevent theft with the straps and computer bag as a pillow.  Luckily I can sleep most any place.  There were mayb 50 others doing similar attempts.  A 4 year old well behaved boy played most of the night with his toy airplane while one parent or the other took turns watching him.  

About 4 am finally said enough and we went to check in getting the maze of people also in line at the maybe 15 check in stands wit) only 2 working.  Seemed a supervisor was there doing whatever supervisors do, when after about 15 minutes inline he began to inquire everyone’s destination.  He had the folks heading to Ushuaia go form a separate line of which Jeanne and I were first.  The line behind us grew to a long length winding out the hall and into hallway out of our sight, while the original line became much shorter.  The supervisor then began rearranging the maze of webbing directing the people going to other locations.  Jeanne and I were laughing as he seemed to be having such fun removing the webbing from one  poles and fitting in another.  But then that line was soon short and those who had come after us were checking in.  No explanation, but when we moved to a check in counter we were told to return to the Ushuaia line.  Finally someone who could speak Spanish went up and a possible answer was given our flight was cancelled, but no one was really sure if that was true, including the counter people.  

Not sure how it all began or started but soon there were people chanting and clapping in the area.  One fellow was going around insisting everyone totally block the check in area until answers were found.  The police were called in as the scene was developing.  Jeanne and I were not exactly happy but did not want to give up our place in line, which was beside the folks growing angry.  Check ins for everyone was halted as the mob was blocking the kiosks, not to block them but searching for answers.  Jeanne got on a chat session with Latam airlines but seemed they knew nothing, but did say they could not rebook us as our bags were already checked from Los Angeles to Ushuaia.  The counter people now said they had contacted headquarters in Chile and they were working on solution.  ​

​Finally were told there would be an answer about 8 am. It was now 6 am. The crowd  had quieted somewhat.  The airline gave us vouchers for breakfast and told to return at 8.  Numerous people said it was a ruse but Jeanne and I took the vouchers and were reassured by people next to us they would hold our place in line.  They would wait.  I got a note on my airline scheduling app on phone that we were rescheduled for 3 pm flight, and off we went to find only one restaurant took the voucher and it was only for coffee and a croissant.  

On return to counter our place in line remained and when we told the counter people about how voucher did not work, they gave us a lunch voucher.  But our bags were checked although we were wondering if it was another ruse.  Several people including counter personnel told us this all was common.  Someone said the flight was cancelled because the pilot called in sick, but no one seemed to really know.  

Most airports are designed to transfer people from one connection to another and often there is little thought given to the time one spends between flights.  Airports are getting better but this airport (the smaller regional airport of Buenos Aires) although) nice does not have a lot of attraction.  But when all the excitement settled we looked out window and viewed what we thought was the ocean, but were informed it is the river and one said it is here 250 kilometers across.  Whew that seems to be the ocean, but whatever, we found our way across the 7 lanes of traffic and began walking the delightful escalade with bikers, walkers, fishermen, venders and such.  We soon discovered though that we were exhausted and did not feel like walking.  Returning to the airport worked our way through security and into departure area, where we fought off unsuccessfully sleep, sitting in the uncomfortable chairs.  Reading was impossible due to sleep deprivation.  The web was slow, email would not work for us, I could not contact the Airbnb of change in arrival time.  No SIM cards were available in airport, and our phone carrier, ATT was having computer problems, hence many times we had to find a recharging area as going through batteries.  

Buenos Aries airport front
Basically I guess I could have shortened the last bit by summarizing the day as it was not fun, and we remain even more sleep deprived than yesterday.  Our hopes of getting to Ushuaia and making arrangements for the next week were shot down.  Did manage a second night, at a different place than tonight, as most places sold out.  

I remember a conversation that we exclaimed Jeanne and I like to travel pretty much on the fly, without a set schedule, which often ties one down to a particular trip, without potential for changing circumstances or happenings.  This has led us on some very special times, adventures, and meeting amazing people.  But one must be prepared as there are ups and downs.  Sometimes things like today happen.  Seems to work out and after numerous days and sleep we will probably reminisce about it letting memories erase the bad parts.  

South Atlantic Ocean coastline Argentina

Hence if you have made it this far you realize we are enroute to Ushuaia and on to t)3 next section.  Let the fun begin.

One thought on “Air travel  (Anchorage to Ushuaia in 94 hours)

  1. Having flown so many “non-rev’s” I can appreciate to some extent this last trip of yours. You can laugh about it later – much later. I have slept on a diaper changing table, on the floor, crawled under a rope and slept on a table bench, and many more. But I’ve never attempted some of the fearsome things you have.

    By the way Tom just finished training for the 787. Not sure where he’ll be heading. Happy Thanksgiving – whereever you are. Love you, Auntie

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