Monday, February 21, 2011

Magical Mystery Tour

Today we're in Buenos Aires even though we were supposed to be in Santiago. This is less terrible than it seems due to the awesomeness of LAN airlines. Yesterday we got to the airport at El Calafate to be told that our flight was cancelado because of "rain." Later we learned that a deluge had struck Buenos Aires. Anyway, bummer, right? We explained to the check in staff that we were supposed to fly internationally and they asked us to wait in the cafe and they'd see what they could do. An hour later, we're being whisked back to El Calafate to a hotel that LAN paid for for us to stay in for an indeterminate period of time, eating lunch that LAN also paid for. Awesome thing #1. (An American airline would never put you for a weather related delay.) So we ate and were resting in the room for an hour or two when the front desk calls. A bus will pick us up "shortly". LAN has gotten another flight for us. The hotel doesn't know where or when. Please don't tell the other passengers as not everyone is going. Very mysterious. The bus (a much smaller one than before) shows up to pick us and a few other passengers up. LAN guy is there, says we'll get to Santiago. Doesn't say how. I theorize exotic routes: Santiago via Punta Arenas or Islas Malvinas.

We get to the airport, wait in more lines and are told that we'll be going to Buenos Aires and probably be put up for the night there if there's no flight available (likely). We spend even more time waiting for the plane (which is late). We're a little grumpy, but mostly happy to be on the move again. We meet a nice couple from the States and bond over our travel woes. On the flight, we make another friend, a Porteña who's also been delayed. The word on the street is that LAN canceled a flight to Ushuaia to free up a plane to Buenos Aires. Awesome thing #2 (for us, the people going to Ushuaia were probably bummed).

At Aeropaeque Jorge Newberry we stagger off the plane, head over to baggage claim and discern from the LAN agent there that we now need to go to check-in and they'll sort things out. Near the head of the line, we eventually get to an agent (none the agents seemed to have been forewarned about our arrival, btw) and after a lot of checking with people over the radio, we get checked into a next day flight to Santiago de Chile. Furthermore, we have a hotel paid for the night and a ride to the hotel and to the airport in the morning. We were worried that it'd be a dump, but it turns out that Hotel Emperador is a swank, five star hotel. Kudos to LAN! This is almost certainly the best airline experience I've ever had. <knocks on wood>. So, here we sit waiting for our flight. On to Chile!

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