Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The South American Altiplano March 2013 - LAN Airlines 2106 Economy Class (AQP-LIM)

***This post is part 17 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

After returning to Hostal Las Torres de Ugarte and gathering up my belongings, I had the reception call a taxi for me. Although the airport in Arequipa is only about six miles from the center of town, it still can take upwards of 20 minutes to drive there since no freeways are located in the vicinity. Total cost for the one-way trip was 20 soles plus tip.

Rodríguez Ballón International Airport

I got to the airport almost two hours prior to departure, which I soon found out was complete overkill. The check-in line was fairly short, and I quickly had my large backpack tagged and boarding pass printed out. Unfortunately, they could not issue my remaining boarding passes to San Francisco via Dallas, so I had to retrieve my backpack and check in again with American Airlines once in Lima. 

Afterwards, I took a walk around the pre-security area and noticed there was a substantial amount of construction going on. I learned that the airport was in the midst of renovating the small terminal building, as well as installing its first two jet bridges in the departures hall. Last I checked, the first phase of construction was completed at the end of September 2013.


Check-in line

Airport renovation in progress

When I tried to enter the security screening area, the agent checking my boarding pass told me it was too early for my flight, and I had to wait a while longer. I assumed that the departures hall was probably very small, and this was just a method of crowd control. Approximately an hour before departure, I tried to go through security again, and once more, the agent told me it was too early. When I asked him when I should return, he said ten minutes.

Finally, after returning for a third time, I was allowed through the screening area, and found myself airside within five minutes. I was disappointed to see that the departures hall looked more like a depressing hospital waiting room than an airport. I think there may have been one tiny shop selling snacks. Otherwise, there were some uncomfortable seats for waiting, and lots and lots of fluorescent lighting. At 9:20 pm, boarding commenced, and we lined up by seat rows.

Clinical waiting area

Lined up for boarding

LAN Airlines 2106
Airbus A319
Arequipa (AQP) - Lima (LIM)
Sunday April 7, 2013
Departure: 9:50 PM (scheduled) / 9:50 PM (actual)
Arrival: 11:20 PM (scheduled) / 11:05 PM (actual)
Duration: 1h 30m (scheduled) / 1h 15m (actual)
Seat: 5A (Economy)

Boarding was efficient, and both the front and rear doors of the aircraft were used. It was quite beautiful to see the city lights illuminating in the distance while walking across the tarmac. During the daytime, there are spectacular views of the nearby Chachani and El Misti volcanoes as well. Once inside, I found my window seat at 5A and stored my small backpack under the seat in front of me. Like most LAN Peru domestic flights, there was no business class cabin on our Airbus A319 aircraft.

Boarding by stairs

Arequipa lights

Take-off out of Arequipa was smooth, and we hit no major turbulence during the short hop up to Lima. With just about one hour of airtime, the flight attendants only made one round of drink service. We were handed a small snack box, which consisted of some crackers and chocolates. Juices, soft drinks, coffee, and tea were also available.

I love eating Kraps

After a short duration at cruising altitude, we slowly began our descent into Lima. The flight attendants came around one more time to collect waste items, and prepared the cabin for landing. Once on the ground, I headed over to baggage claim to retrieve my large backpack and then made my way to the international departures check-in area, where a long line greeted me at the American Airlines counter. With more than two and a half hours before my departure to Dallas, however, there was plenty of time to spare.

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