You can’t say I wasn’t warned. I knew Lan 800 had a reputation for being late even when I booked it 11 months ahead of time. But I didn’t have any choice, it was the only flight available on the day I wanted that had award seats via AAdvantage available. I thought we were pretty safe since there was almost 4 hours layover in Santiago before the connection to Guayaquil.
A couple weeks before our scheduled departure, I started stalking the flight to see how it had been running lately. The news wasn’t great – 75% on time stats meant that 25% of the flights were late. Some excessively so, even 8 hours late!
I was even more worried when a story came on the news about strikes by Border Protection staff. They did postpone some of the strikes due to the terror attacks in Brussels but resumed them a week later.
Sydney International Airport — 12 midnight to 12.15am
Melbourne International Airport — 4am to 12 midday and 4pm to 12 midnight
Adelaide Airport — 5am to 1pm and 4pm to 12 midnight
Brisbane International Airport — 5am to 1pm and 5pm to 12 midnight
We were lucky-they didn’t affect the Brisbane domestic terminal for the BNE-SYD flight and the Sydney strike would end at 12:15am, well before our departure.
We only had carry-on backpacks with well-stuffed Scottevests to avoid checking any bags and get around the 7kg limit (camera gear is heavy!) so we were prepared for tight connections.
There was also a hassle over our pre-booked seats. To maximize sleep time, I had chosen the last two seats in the middle section of economy that had a lavatory wall directly behind them. We aren’t the reclining types and I wanted to avoid potential seat kickers behind us. When we checked in at BNE, we got boarding passes for completely different seats not even together! I went straight to LAN customer service at Sydney and complained showing the print-out of our pre-booked seats. Those seats were gone but she did give us the front row of economy – bulkhead which had been freed up probably by some elite getting upgraded. I was thrilled – nobody reclining into us! We actually had 2 different seats – 2nd row of economy for the SYD-AKL segment and 1st row for AKL-SCL, the long one.
As it turned out, the flight was late arriving from Auckland so our flight was delayed but at least only a couple hours so we wouldn’t miss the connection to Guayaquil but I was still biting my nails until the plane left Sydney. They did give us food vouchers so we bought a sandwich and some biscuits to keep on hand in case we got hungry later.
Transiting AKL is a pita. Even though it is the exact same plane continuing onwards, you have to get off with all your carry-ons, schlep them all the way down the hall to security, put them through security and trudge back to where the plane was parked – of course the furthest gate from security!
After all that, we were relieved that the plane had no further delays and settled into our bulkhead seats. Just then, a man approached us and asked if one of us wanted to change seats……………………………………!!!!!!
To be continued!