Thursday, December 20, 2012

Easter Island/Santiago November 2012 - LAN Airlines 848 Economy Class (LIM-IPC)

***This post is part 3 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

I headed down to Gate 27 with plenty of time to spare. Judging from the crowds in the waiting area, the plane didn't look to be completely full, which was a little surprising considering how few flights there are to Easter Island. After about half an hour, boarding commenced via shuttle bus, and we were dropped off in front of the ramp stairs.

LAN Airlines 848
Boeing 767-300ER
Lima (LIM) - Easter Island (IPC)
Sunday November 4, 2012
Departure: 1:20 AM (scheduled)
Arrival: 6:55 AM (scheduled)
Duration: 5h 35m (scheduled)
Seat: 26A (Economy) 

I took my time taking plenty of pictures of our Boeing 767-300ER before entering the aircraft. Once inside, I noticed that the layout was identical to my previous flight, and featured the old versions of their business and economy class seats.

Initially, there was another passenger next to me, but since the flight wasn't full, he decided to move closer to his wife once boarding was complete. Incidentally, I later found out that they were staying at the same hotel as us, and we would all become good travel buddies over the next few days. With two seats to myself, I was able to stretch out and enjoy the extra space.

A late-night dinner service commenced soon after takeoff, and I was very glad they provided an actual meal since I had not eaten anything besides lunch and a snack on the SFO-LIM flight. I had considered grabbing a quick bite at the Lima airport, but decided to head directly to the departure gate instead just to be safe.

Dinner consisted of a simple choice between chicken or pasta. I went with the chicken dish, which included rice, potatoes, and a lemon meringue square. While the presentation wasn't too appetizing, everything tasted delicious (maybe I was just starving). Flight attendants came around with red and white wine, although I stuck with my orange juice.

The same AVOD system was present on this flight, and sadly, the response time was just as slow. This was a rather short red-eye at only five and a half hours, so I decided to skip the movies and instead get as much rest as possible. After the trays were cleared, I slept soundly for a good two hours. When I woke up, we only had about an hour left in the flight.

As we started our descent, it was still dark outside, so it was difficult to catch a good first glimpse of the island. By the time we landed, however, the sun was just peaking over the horizon. The first thing I noticed about Mataveri International Airport was how tiny it was. Just a couple of small buildings and that was it. The ramp stairs were quickly pulled up and we soon stepped out of the plane and onto Easter Island.

First view upon exiting the aircraft

It was crazy to me that the entire airport only had one aircraft sitting there - the one we just arrived in. Other than that, all you could see was one long runway and the beautiful green hills. With a long walk to the terminal building, we had plenty of time to take pictures, which is what virtually every passenger did.

Unfortunately, I wasn't aware that going through customs would be an absolute waiting nightmare. If I had known, I would have immediately rushed to the front of the line after deplaning. With only two officers checking passports and typing in passenger information for the entire flight, our wait time from the back of the line stretched to almost two hours. I have never experienced such an ordeal clearing customs before, and I hope never to go through it again!

Ridiculously slow-moving line

More people in line behind us

While waiting in line, there was a small booth to the left which sold tickets to the Rapa Nui National Park. If you purchase tickets at the park entrance, it costs $60 USD each, but getting them in advance at the airport only costs $50 USD. Keep your ticket, as you will need to get it stamped at Rano Kau and Rano Raraku in order to enter. It also comes with a detailed map of the island, which makes for great reading while waiting in the ridiculous line.

Rapa Nui National Park tickets to the left

Finally, after getting through customs, we picked up our checked bags and exited the tiny airport. Marcelo, the owner of our hotel, was standing outside waiting for us with welcome leis. I felt bad for him, since he had to make multiple trips back and forth from the hotel with some passengers getting through customs quickly if they were at the front of the line, and others (like us) near the back taking quite a bit longer. Luckily, the town of Hanga Roa is located right next to the airport, so it took less than five minutes to get to the hotel.

No comments:

Post a Comment