Falling asleep on an airport chair is difficult enough but I couldn’t even manage two hours on the hard floor. It was about 7am and I still had no clue as to how or when I was going to get to Easter Island. Bogota Airport seemed to be up and running again, albeit with a bit of a backlog of flights to clear from the previous night. A few news camera crews had turned up but I couldn’t find any news stories, so hopefully last night’s incident was fairly minor. Rather than repeat what had previously happened and get passed among various LATAM staff, I opted for a new approach. Using the resources of Google Translate I wrote on a bit of paper, using the best Spanish I could muster, that I needed to arrange a new flight to Santiago with a connection to Easter Island. I didn’t want to appear desperate but I stated with, “Please help me. I don’t speak Spanish………” I then went and found a member of LATAM staff with the friendliest looking demeanour. It worked though. The young lady that I handed the note to was really nice and spoke a bit of English. She found a supervisor and handed him the note. His English was excellent and I was booked onto the 15.45 to Santiago this afternoon and then tomorrow morning’s flight to Easter Island. He also arranged for a hotel room until then as well as some breakfast, lunch and a transfer. It was nice to have finally found a bit of good customer service.
The hotel used by LATAM for delayed passengers was excellent, certainly the fanciest place I’ve stayed in so far on this trip. The breakfast buffet was great and it was nice to have the first hot shower in at least a couple of weeks. It would have been an enjoyable experience if I wasn’t losing a day on Easter Island. After eating, WiFing and showering, I watched some of the fallout following the US general election. Without wishing to get political, I’m just glad that I didn’t have to vote in that show. And I thought that Cameron v Miliband was a terrible choice!
I’ve always found hotel check-outs to be a bit of an unnecessary interaction. In the past I’ve been incorrectly billed by speaking and not speaking to receptionists. Therefore I tend to just leave the key in the room, walk out and check my credit card statement a few days later. With my flight at 15.45 I headed onto the 12.45 shuttle bus. The driver wanted to see my check-out receipt. I tried to gesticulate that I didn’t have one. There was also the small matter of about 20 people having just walked into the hotel who were now queuing at reception. Luckily the shuttle bus driver just pushed me in past all of them in order to obtain check-out confirmation. This was a good job as when we arrived at the airport there were about 500 people also trying to check-in to the three big flights that were leaving at the same time. At one point I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it but after about an hour an a half of queuing, I was finally onto the plane and finally off to Santiago. It was a bit like Groundhog Day as all of the surrounding passengers from the cancelled flight were occupying the same seats. Tonight I also discovered that the lady sitting next to me spoke excellent English and could have come in handy last night when I was clueless as to what was going on. There was quite a bit of clapping as the plane took off. Irony obviously translates in Colombia. As poor as LATAM’s communication skills were, they were certainly not stingy with the booze. I was offered three glasses of excellent Chilean wine and they also had a bottle of Scotch on the tea and coffee trolley. If you requested a whiskey, you are served a measure of about a quadruple. After a bit of a doze, the next thing I knew, we had landed in Santiago.
Due to the recent tragedy in Colombia I’ve removed quite a bit of moaning about being delayed. These events emphasised the futility of complaining about arriving a few hours late, yet safely.