Day 2 – So Somehow… I’m in Santiago de Chile

I wish I were able to travel without any hiccups, but in my world, that’s obviously me asking for too much. Needless to say my afternoon was eventful.

I arrived at the LAX airport fairly early, 9.30am, even though my flight departing to Miami was schedule for 12.30pm. From there, I would catch an onward flight to La Paz, Bolivia.

Finally, I would make it to my destination! But hey, life’s not so easy on the road, especially if you’re traveling with American Airlines, and considering 80% of their flights are delayed (okay, so I’m lash in out by making up the statistics… but you get my point). I was hopeful though. I checked the flight status again at 11.45am. Still “on time”. Man this trip was off to a great start. Low and behold, I hear an announcement from the boarding gate at 11.55am,

“Ladies and gentlemen, flight AA 1024 departing at 12.30pm has been deemed out of service. We will be prepping a new flight to fly out at 3.30pm. Sorry for the delay. Passengers with connecting flights from Miami, kindly contact the customer service center at 42A.”

So here is my original routing. Just adjust the dates below in your mind to April 7th and arrival on April 8th.

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I quickly grabbed my things and rushed over to counter 42A, anxiously waiting in the already long queue, and all the while thinking to myself, “what do they mean… ‘out to service'”. I decided to pull up my iPad and do a bit of research on my own to see my options, while I was waiting in line. They looked slim… to none. Why would they have more than 1 flight departing to La Paz per day anyways? My stomach tangled up into knots.

I was also in contact with my travel buddy Krista, and she was trying to help me look for options from her end, as she was also waiting to catch her flight from Toronto that Miami. Unfortunately I knew I wasn’t going to have my grand reunion with Krista in Miami anymore, and we wouldn’t be able to fly into La Paz together, as originally planned.

I was simply hoping that my rerouting would not be a 24 hour delay with the exact same itinerary. I don’t trust AA anymore.

After an hour of waiting, I finally got my turn with the CS assistant. She clicked away at her computer and looked through all my options. “It’s all full” she said. “All the connecting flights bring me back to the same flight you need to take from Miami to La Paz. I’m afraid you’ll arrive the same time in La Paz, but the following day.”

I explained to her that I travelled really far to get here, and to waste a day in rerouting was not ideal, but that I understood if she tried everything and couldn’t do anything more. With my head down, I accepted it. I would fly out to Miami today, spend the night in a hotel there and take the flight from Miami to La Paz the following day instead. Alright, it’s a 24 hour setback, but it could have been worse I guess. What if that was full too?

I surrendered my current tickets and provided her with a description of my luggage to reroute. I was sad but I didn’t want to stress her out more. She had a long day of rebookings and angry customers waiting their turn to yell at her out of frustration. I wasn’t about to be one of them. While she was yet again clicking away to reroute my flights, she looked up and said,

“I got you on a flight to Santiago, and from there to La Paz. It arrives at 3.40pm.”

I smiled so hard my cheeks we’re overstretched,

“You have now idea how much I want to hug you right now. I really thought I would have to wait 24 hours.”

Instead of landing at 5am, I would arrive at 3.40pm. That’s an 11 hour delay in arrival I was more than happy to accept!

“Your flight is already boarding and your luggage has been transferred. You’ll have to make a run for it. The gate’s at the Tom Bradley terminal, terminal 1.”

I was currently in terminal 4, and it was 1.10pm. The flight was departing 2pm. I needed to run.

“Go now, and rush a little. Hopefully they let you on the flight and I don’t have to see you back here,” she winked.

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I grabbed my tickets, thanked her again, and made a run for it. The thing is, I’m also on diamox pills, as a precaution to help me acclimatize when I arrive in La Paz. Basically it thins my blood and lowers my heart rate which means any form of exercising, let alone running, was an exhausting task, to say the least.

I arrive at terminal 1, gasping for air and nearly tripping on myself several times. What I had in hand wasn’t the tickets. It was the booking itinerary. I still had to figure out the gate number, find it, and go talk to the representatives to check me into the flight at the boarding gate itself. This had to work. I was hopeful. And it did! Hoorahhhh. After a bit of pleading, they let me on the flight 🙂 It was 1.45pm.. In the nick of time, I would say!

Oh did I mention, the flight I got on is a Dreamliner. How beautiful 🙂

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I’m currently sitting on the Dreamliner, writing this, as I check the flight status and arrival time. “Arrival 12.15am, Destination Lima”. Oh no, it doesn’t go to Santiago? Did I get on the wrong flight? No I couldn’t have. The lady checked me in in front of her and asked me to board then and there. But why is it going to Lima? I’m supposed to arrive in Santiago, which is in Chile, NOT Lima Peru, at 7:00am!

I decided to check with the flight attendant. It’s the same flight that will stopover at Lima and continue on to Santiago. Phew! I really couldn’t afford to have another heart attack and another mess of flights on my hands. Glad figuring out this one wasn’t so trivial. So I’ll arrive Santiago at 7am, with my flight to La Paz departing at 11.55am. It’s too bad I don’t have enough time during my layover to go out and explore Chile! That would have been sick.

I arrive at Santiago de Chile with over 4.5 hours to kill before boarding  I transfer directly to the international connections and head over to the priority pass lounge to get some rest and call my family to update them on all my shenanigans. My flight wasn’t on the monitor yet, so I decided to wait and check for it later. An hour passes and I got back to the monitors  they skipped my flight. Why would the monitors skip my flight? I googled my flight details and this is what came up…

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My first thought.. So it does a stop over in Iquique before flying onwards to La Paz. Where the hell is Iquique? And how am I supposed to know that I have this stopover. I wish I got a proper itinerary from AA, but I guess I’m effectively fighting through all the curve balls thrown my way so far. I google it. It’s in Chile. All the dots connect in my mind. That’s a domestic flight technically, and I’m in the international sector. I need to go through customs, get my baggage and recheck them in. Alright, time to hustle again! I wonder if I will pass though immigration flawlessly, or do I need a visa for Chile? Oops. That thought crossed my mind as I was waiting in the immigration queue. So this is what I learned… Thai citizens get free visa on arrival for 90 days!! Yay. Also, my bags arrived and weren’t lost in transit. Finally something went right!

Can I say that I’ve been to Chile now?

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So this is how day 2 ends… With a number of obstacles conquered as I sit and wait for my flight flight from Santiago → Iquique → La Paz. Let’s just hope this all goes smoothly for a change. Fingers crossed!

Sidenote: I feel like I just did an airport tour around the world and especially in South America… Sigh. I’m tired.

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