Marg & Linda's Horror Trip Home

The LAN Chile flight from Santiago to Auckland was at first delayed  for 3 hours then they extended it to 12 hours. Many passengers were very upset and were piling up at the gate and  demanding action from the poor LAN Chile attendants who didn't seem  to really know what the problem was themselves at first. Also, the  announcements were mostly in Spanish with few in English which didn't  help. The irate passengers settled down after awhile especially after  the arrival of several burly security personnel. All they had to do  was to stand in a row at the back of the gate looking like they  wouldn't stand for any nonsense.

Anyway, eventually LAN Chile provided mattresses and blankets and a  room downstairs for all the passengers caught up in this. Many of 
these were Australians returning to Sydney and people going to  Auckland. I hadn't seen all that many of these all the time of our  trip, I guess they were spread out all across South America, but they  all came out of the woodwork for that flight.

LAN Chile also provided a stamp for our boarding passes which gave  everyone free food and drinks from the 'Gatsby' cafe in the airport. In the morning in the sleeping room they provided a trolley with breakfast (juices and a ham and cheese roll) and a toiletries pack that included a size XXL T-shirt and shorts.

LAN Chile also chartered a special Qantas flight from Auckland to Sydney as the replacement plane didn't go all the way to Sydney as
the original one was scheduled to do.

When we finally arrived in Sydney LAN gave us a voucher for a night in the Stamford Hotel which was considerably upmarket from the
Formula 1 hostel. Marble bathroom, luxury fittings, gym, pool... all lovely. A shame Marg and I only had 5 hours there before the early
6am flight back to Melbourne. We even had to miss their buffet breakfast which was included in our voucher, but breakfast was on at 6 am and we were on our plane to Melbourne by then, having got up at 4.15 am to catch their airport bus at 5 am. We couldn't even get their room service because it stopped between 10.30pm and 6am. At least we found a chocolate bar in their fridge. Small compensation.

So overall, LAN Chile did their best to look after us. And I would rather be delayed than go on a plane with technical problems which was the reason they gave (eventually) for the delay.

BUT Marg and I had more issues that that - especially Marg.In Arequipa I was given boarding passes for all my flights back to Melbourne, and they even let me have 27.5 Kgs luggage with no extra charge, and the check in chick told me I could have had 46kgs!! I could have done more shopping ! damn! (but I think she may have made a mistake as everyone else's limit seemed to be 25kg). But Marg was not so lucky. We reckon her check in Chick stuffed it up and she had to check in again in Lima and again in Santiago to get a boarding pass each time for the next leg. As we wanted to sit together, that meant they also then changed my seat each time too.Poor Marg was worried that they thought there was something wrong with her passport but we couldn't really tell and weren't told - could just see lots of calls in Spanish going on each time.

A further issue was that we were all (ie the whole planeload) told we had to get a new boarding pass whilst we were in Santiago, for when
we arrived in Auckland - because of the different plane from Auckland to Sydney. Well I was given a new list of flights for the two of us, which had on it an Emerites flight for Marg and I from Auckland to Sydney. But all the other passengers were on the chartered Qantas
flight. Anyway alongside the Emerites flight number and gate number was a reference to Scott  from World Expeditions - so we surmised
that HE must have got wind of the delay and stepped in to help and found us a flight (and probably hadn't known of the specially chartered Qantas flight as it wouldn't have been listed.

For me, the worst part of all of this was the actual flight when it finally happened. 12 hours worth of a kid sitting behind us who couldn't seem to just ask for what he wanted, but screamed instead.i.e. not a crying baby but a noise to demand attention and it went on all night long. As well the plane was packed (unlike the flight over where we had 2 seats each to lie down on and sleep) and very squashy and uncomfortable. So just as I had gotten to sleep.. uncomfortably, the kid would screech... this happened all night long.

Our flight from Santiago finally arrived at 6.10 pm in Auckland and the Emirates flight was scheduled to leave at 6.45pm.Note the LAN flight got in to a gate at one end of the NZ terminal and the Emirates flight was leaving from the gate at the extreme other end of the terminal. So we raced around there, huffing and puffing only to be told that we would have had to check in at 6.05 pm in order to be allowed on their flight. At this point their plane was still on the ground but about to taxi out, but there were to be no exceptions to their rule. So we raced all the way back to the Qantas flight and found we had been included on the passenger list for that one anyway..!!@#$&&!!

Oh, and one last thing  .. when we arrived in Sydney... Marg's luggage was still in Auckland!!!. So she had to wait in a long baggage claim
queue for another hour before we could get to the Stamford hotel for the night. Fortunately her luggage arrived home in Melbourne the day after she did and was delivered to her door as promised by the airline, but it meant she had to go one more day without  clean clothes - funny she didn't want to meet her man (who came to meet her at the airport) wearing the LAN CHILE XXL white T-shirt and boxer shorts??!!

So there you have it .. it makes a good story.  But in the end we were only 18 hrs later than originally scheduled and we arrived home safe and sound which is the main thing. And I would put up with that again for another wonderful trip like we just had! If you think about it, we are very lucky to be able to fly around the world like we can and do the things we have done. A bit of discomfort is nothing and all adds to life's rich tapestry.