Vacation Day 1
Friday, January 23rd
Departure for Chile
As indicated on the calendar on the main page the trip started with a travel day. I was at Pearson Airport in Toronto by 10:50 which was three hours and twenty minutes before the 2:10PM departure time for American Airlines flight 719 to Miami which was the first hop to Santiago, Chile. I was at Gate B10 by 11:20 AM so there was some time to wait. There were some people there before me.
As time went on more and more people gathered but no plane or gate staff appeared. Some gate staff finally arrived and made an announcement that the plane was coming from Miami and would be there shortly. They also noted that there were not too many people on it so they hoped to turn it around very quickly and only leave 10 - 15 minutes late. I am not sure how late it was but it did not get there until 10 or 15 minutes before my flight was to leave.
Once the flight crew changed they found a problem that their (American Airline's) regulations would not allow them to fly with. It was something to do with a 4 inch long exit light sign at the back of the plane that was missing or broken we were told by the Captain who was outside of the flight deck at the front of the plane. By this time the flight was almost an hour late in departing. He said that they thought they might be able to get it fixed in just 10 or 15 minutes more.
Just minutes after the Captain made that announcement, one of the Toronto gate agents came on and asked all the people going to Santiago, Chile to get off with all our carry on bags and they were transferring us to another flight. So, 17 people got off the plane. They told us they were going to take our bags off. (Hold this thought, it is important for tomorrow's story.)
It turns out that the flight they were putting most of us on was LAN Chile's flight 533 to JFK in New York and then non-stop to Santiago which departed at 3:50PM. The couple I ended up sitting beside on the plane told me it had been cancelled the day before because there were not enough passengers. They new this because they had been booked on it that day and had to make alternate arrangements which was to have been the flight I was booked on. So, when we got to the American gate they were madly talking on the phone to one of the gate agents for the LAN flight. There appeared to be a certain amount of confusion. We were rebooked by American onto the LAN flight and then sent to the Gate for that flight which luckily was just 9 away from where we were. Once there, the LAN agent was busily entering everyone's passport information and checking everyone in with no baggage.
This flight departed Toronto virtually on time and went uneventfully. It was not full (maybe half full) from Toronto to JHK but was very full from there to Santiago. This flight was only an hour long so we were at JFK just after 5:00PM. The flight to Chile did not leave until 8:00PM se there was just under a three hour wait. While there I took a couple of pictures.
Here is LAN 533 at Gate A3 at JFK. We had to get off and take everything off with us while the plane was serviced.
This slightly out of focus image shows part of the terminal building across from Gate A3
The image above was one I thought was interesting. It is a picture of a Singapore Airlines 747-400 (on the left) sitting beside the worlds newest and biggest passenger plane, the Airbus A380. This is the first time I have seen the new A380. You can not see it in this picture but the A380 belongs to Emirates Airlines, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates which if I am not mistaken is also known as the country of Dubai. What is interesting here is that these two airlines were the first and second airlines to order A380's. I know that Singapore Airlines got the first one off the production line and it is possible the Emirates got the second one. For those of you that do not know, the 747 was the largest passenger jet for many years and the A380 is the first one that is larger. So, after this brief digression, back to the vacation.
The 15 or 17 people (depending on who you get the story from) that made it to New York on this flight were the first people put on the plane, some 45 minutes before it pushed back. It should be noted at this point that there was an unconfirmed story that not all of the 17 people that were pulled of the American flight made it onto LAN 533.
The plane pushed back from the gate at JFK right on time at 8:00PM but it took 48 minutes to get off the ground. The Captain said we were somewhere between 20th and 30th in line to take off.
This flight was scheduled to take 10 hours arriving in Santiago at 8:00AM on Saturday. Yes, I know that looks like 12 hours but it is only 10 when you factor in one time zone to the east and Daylight Savings Time in Chile making a 2 hour earlier difference.
"You ain 't heard nothin yet" as the saying goes! It gets even more interesting tomorrow!
Created: January 27, 2009 on the
MS Amsterdam off the coast of Chile.
Last updated: March 16, 2009 1:24 PM