Sunday, February 24, 2013

Easter Island/Santiago November 2012 - LAN Airlines 842 Economy Class (IPC-SCL)

***This post is part 6 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

Mataveri International Airport is tiny. With only LAN Airlines servicing the island, there is no need for anything larger than one hall and one departure gate. In fact, with the cancellation of the Lima to Easter Island route starting in March 2013, there will only be two other destinations: Santiago and Papeete. The check-in counters were at the very end of the hall, and had a separate line for Premium Business passengers despite the economy lines being mostly empty.

Once our bags were checked in, we walked over to the other end of the hall, where there were a number of gift shops packed to the brim with tourists looking for last minute souvenirs. About an hour before departure, the doors to the boarding room opened, and passengers were screened via a quick security check before filing into a large waiting area. There were plenty of open seats, as well as more gift shops and a small snack shop. Passengers were welcome to walk outside from here and take pictures of the aircraft sitting on the tarmac, although we were not allowed to walk onto the tarmac until boarding began.

Once boarding was called, a mad rush of people crowded into the departure gate hallway, and we slowly made our way to the front, where our tickets were torn. Once passengers got onto the tarmac, everyone took their time snapping some final pictures of Easter Island before boarding.

LAN Airlines 842
Boeing 767-300ER
Easter Island (IPC) - Santiago (SCL)
Thursday November 8, 2012
Departure: 2:10 PM (scheduled)
Arrival: 8:55 PM (scheduled)
Duration: 4h 45m (scheduled)
Seat: 27A (Economy) 

When I entered our Boeing 767-300ER, I was pleasantly surprised to see the new-style interiors. Even though both the business and economy seats were very similar to the old version, the refresh nevertheless looked incredibly modern and clean. Incidentally, these new seats are identical to those featured on LAN's new Boeing 787s (once they are actually allowed to fly).

New Premium Business

New economy

I selected a window seat in hopes of catching a good view of Easter Island as we took off. However, I wasn't exactly sure which side of the plane would be ideal. Luckily, I made the right choice by sitting on the left side. It was a beautiful sight to behold as Easter Island gradually faded from sight. Once we broke through the thick layer of low clouds, it was clear skies all the way to Santiago.

One last look at Easter Island

I got to playing around with the AVOD, and was relieved to see that they finally fixed the dreaded slow-response issue on the older generation system. This new version was quick and responsive, and the screen was bright and clear. With a rather short flight time, however, I didn't bother watching a full movie. Instead, I caught a few episodes of the LAN travel series, which gave an informative introduction to a number of South American cities.

Service was friendly and efficient, no different from any other LAN flight I'd been on thus far. Meal and drink service began approximately an hour in, and we were given a choice between chicken or pasta. While extremely simple and not very pleasing to the eye, the chicken with rice was appetizing, and filling enough to tide me over for the remainder of the flight.

As we traveled east, the sun quickly set. And by the time we started our descent into Santiago, it was completely dark outside. We landed smoothly and exited the aircraft via jet bridge and into the terminal. Because Easter Island to Santiago is considered a domestic flight, no immigration paperwork was needed, and we also saved the $160 USD reciprocity fee that Chile charges American citizens upon entering through Santiago International Airport.

After picking up our bags, we booked a ride to the Crown Plaza Santiago at the Taxi Oficial booth right inside the arrivals hall. Although this option may be more expensive than hailing down a random taxi outside, it is always better to play it safe when it comes to taxis in foreign countries. I think that is a far better option than getting ripped off or worse. We paid 16,000 CLP (~$34 USD) for the one-way ride, but if you decide to book a Taxi Oficial for the return trip as well, they will give you a discount. Since it was fairly late already, the drive into town took less than 30 minutes.

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