Domestic Flights In Ecuador With TAME

TAME is not part of any airline alliance so you have to buy these tickets online with a credit card.  Luckily, they are not expensive!   TAME flies to certain destinations like Loja (closest airport to Podocarpus & Buenaventura) and other eco-tourism hotspots like Coca for the Amazon and the Galapagos.

Keep an eye out for sale fares like this one.  Would you rather take a one hour flight or a 10 hour bus ride with prices like this?


It’s a pretty user-friendly airline.  I printed our boarding passes the night before at the Holiday Inn in Guayaquil and the flight actually left on time!  The planes are small but I prefer smaller planes with 2×2 rows rather than larger planes with 3×3 rows where a couple has to sit with a stranger.

When you buy your ticket, you may see a notice that you have to show the original credit card you use to purchase the ticket.  On our flight, no one asked us.  We didn’t have checked bags and they just compared our passports to the printed boarding pass.  It’s probably a good idea to bring the credit card along just in case though!

The overheads were a tight squeeze for our backpacks which are normal carry-on sized but we managed to squish them in as they weren’t full anyways.

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Why Flights Are Expensive

If you don’t have enough airline miles, buying a ticket from your home to your destination would probably be the biggest cost of the trip.  But have you ever wondered WHY airline tickets are so expensive?  This YouTube clip has an interesting perspective.

Transiting Santiago & Flight To Guayaquil

After a fantastic business class surprise, we arrived in Santiago with just over an hour to make the connection.  If the flight had been on time it would have been almost 4 hours to connect.  By the time we got through the transit desk and security there wasn’t enough time to use Priority Pass to enter a lounge so we went straight to the gate.  I was just relieved that the delay didn’t cause us to miss the flight!


If we had been entering Chile, we would have had to pay a “reciprocity fee”.DSCN0306 DSCN0307

This time we were both in our regular economy seats but at least we had an unoccupied middle seat!  The flight was uneventful and we were happy to finally land in Guayaquil so we could get some sleep!DSCN0308 DSCN0310 DSCN0311 DSCN0313 DSCN0314 DSCN0317 DSCN0318


“Would You Mind Changing Seats?”

If you have a good seat booked especially on a long flight, this simple question can cause a huge amount of stress and inconvenience.  So there we were, safely ensconced in our middle section bulkhead seats on a 10 hour flight from Auckland to Santiago feeling relaxed and comfortable.  Shortly afterwards, a couple with 3 young kids (3-7ish) came in and took the 3 seats on one side and 1 seat next to us in the middle section.  The father approached us and asked if one of us would mind swapping seats with him so he could sit next to his family.


Wait for it………………………


As it turns out, his company had paid for him to fly in business class but he had paid for economy for his family.  He must have had some kind of elite status to get them the bulkhead seats as you can’t select them before departure without status.  He was willing to swap his business class seat with one of us so he could travel with his family!

HELL YEAH!!!!  I couldn’t say “Yes” fast enough!  There was no question who would get the business class seat.  I had done an all-nighter before departure as I was worried about not waking up in time to get to the airport.  My husband can sleep sitting up and I can’t.  And he is a gentleman!  I gleefully swapped boarding passes and after checking that the crew were cool with the swap, moved into my new seat.


This is a review I wasn’t expecting to write but really glad I got the chance.  Business class award seats between Australia/New Zealand and Santiago are rarer than hen’s teeth using AAdvantage miles!

The seats were very comfortable and of course went fully flat.  I slept like a baby (minus the crying) for most of the flight.  The purple glow in the overhead lights and windows was really nice.  The chair had all kinds of functions and positions.

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The food was pretty good but to be honest I was so exhausted I just wolfed it down so I could sleep sooner.

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Meanwhile, my husband was being a good sport back in economy.



I woke up well refreshed and ready to tackle South America.  It was pretty cool to see one of our lodges – Sachatamia in Mindo, Ecuador being featured in a travel video!DSCN0296

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It’s really a shame it’s nearly impossible to book these seats with miles.  It didn’t used to be this bad.  Back in 2012, we got a return flight from Santiago to Sydney on Qantas in business class.  It really made a difference to be able to hit the ground running for the transit in Santiago and flight to Guayaquil.




An Inauspicious Beginning To The South America Trip

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.

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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!

More Legroom Vs Wider Seats On Economy Flights

With airlines tightening up redemptions on premium classes and the huge devaluations that have happened over the last couple years more people will find themselves traveling in economy even though they may have originally been saving for business class redemptions.

This is where doing some homework can really pay off.  Conde Naste has a good article on finding extra legroom seats.  Even if you redeem miles, you can usually pay extra to have these seats when you choose your seats.

You should also check the exact plane configuration on Seat Guru and read the comments as some seats can have problems such as ife boxes under seats which reduce your legroom.  You can also check the width to see how closely you will be crammed in next to your seatmates.

I personally prefer to fly on smaller planes which have 2 x 2 seats on opposite sides of the aisle so my husband and I don’t have to sit with a stranger, so I always choose these planes over a 737.  We also prefer more seat width to more legroom so Seat Guru shows us what our options are.

Getting The Most From Economy Class – Aussie Version

I’ve seen a lot of posts (and made a few myself) about surviving economy class flights which have become something many people dread due to over-crowding.  This clip from an Australian show – Weekend Sunrise gives an Aussie perspective.

No surprises that Singapore comes out on top, but I am not looking forward to doing LAX-BNE in Qantas economy!  It’s pretty much impossible to get business class with miles on this route nowadays so not much choice!

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Copa Has Big Sale On Central/South America From USA

It always pays to keep an eye on sales, I get them emailed to me but you can always check the websites as well.  Copa is running a nice sale to various places in Central & South America.


Here’s a sample quote from Orlando to Guayaquil (since we are going there soon).  Ecuador has great birding and I will be blogging the whole trip after we get home!