10 hours in SCL

Jen and I are done with South America – for now. After 4 months of wandering mostly Peru, Chile and Argentina – with one bonus trip to Colombia, we are on our way out. Our route leads us now to Easter Island, then Tahiti and landing for a while in New Zealand. Unfortunately our flight to Easter Island left at 4 am – so this left us with a bit of a conundrum. We had basically 3 choices:

  1. Spend the night at the Airport Holiday Inn (approx. $200)
  2. Stay at our favorite Santiago hostel ($50) and then take a cab to the airport in the middle of the night (approx. $35)
  3. Head to the airport in the evening on a normal bus ($1) and spend the night in the airport (real cost yet to be determined – likely to be my sanity) and if things weren’t going so well we had the option of spending a few hours in the lounge near the gate ($70)

We obviously chose #3. Sleepinginairports.net says that sleeping in the SCL airport actually isn’t that bad. I guess I’m a bit spoiled with all the beds I’ve been sleeping in lately – but it definitely was pretty bad. We arrived in the early evening fresh from Valparaiso. We were waaaay early, so we decided to have a leisurely dinner, before trying to pawn off our bags. There are approximately 3 choices of restaurants (not including Dunkin’ Donuts – so I guess if you count that, and also Telepizza there are 5 choices!) We made our decision solely on typeface on the logo.

We obviously chose La Pausa. After dinner we had a bit of a disagreement about when we could check the bags. I said that it was 6 hours prior to the flight, and Jen said 4 hours. After a bit of a scavenger hunt to find a LAN employee who could speak English, we were sad to find out that neither of us were right. There is no checking a bag until 3 hours prior to your flight, which meant we couldn’t go through security to the other side until 1.30. Time for some rest – since there is nothing else to do at the SCL airport outside of security. There is no wifi. There is nothing. It is very dismal. The only option for entertainment at this point was printing a boarding pass from each self serve kiosk and then making a giant art project from it. Luckily I was distracted by some signs advertising a “rest area” between doors 5 and 6 on the main floor. We were eager to check it out since it was past my bedtime (of 10 pm). We settled onto some benches near an open door. The open door ended up being the LAN staff lounge where staff were coming and going all night, catching up with one another, and talking about their hopes, dreams and feelings. That is solely my interpretation, because my Spanish is not good enough to translate what was actually happening. I chained our bags to the bench and by some miracle of Jesus – even though it was colder than Canada in that hallway, and also I swear I heard gunshots (but it might have been a hammer?) we both fell asleep.  There was a severe bench shortage in the area – and some people were even using the chapel for places to rest. We were glad to turn over our choice seats when we moved on to a family of 6 and one other lady. They were thrilled. LAN is very serious about you not checking your bags until 3 hours prior to the flight. We were there 15 minutes early – and we literally could not even enter the ropes to line up. In fact no one was allowed to enter the ropes, so everyone was in a long line in the middle of the airport causing troubles for security. Yes of course – please stand here in the middle of the room, instead of in these specially made ropes – yes the ropes that make an efficient line up – no you can’t stand there. Don’t be silly. Finally. FINALLY we got rid of our bags, cleared security, and found ourselves in the domestic terminal, far far from the lounge. Easter Island here we come!

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