And So It Begins: Peoria, Chicago, Miami & Santiago
Sorry for the delay in this entry, but between overnight flight exhaustion, additional travel, and lack of Internet access, it’s been tough getting an entry out.
Has a nice Moody Blues ring to it, I think.
Tuesday morning, after the latest winter storm had cleared out, we finished packing up and said goodbye to the house for four months. This was and extremely surreal experience for me, somewhere between moving for good and going away for an extended vacation. Like leaving without leaving, or something.
Took the Peoria Charter Coach bus to O’Hare, then the airport shuttle (after a 45 minute wait for a shuttle that comes every half hour) to the Holiday Express Rosemont. Had a great view of the airport (as recommended by Cecile) for our afternoon and next morning. Got to watch some live Olympics (completely legally as opposed to the theoretically legal method we’ve been using with VPN), and then headed back to O’Hare for the actual flights.
Oh American Airlines, How You Make Us Hate You
While our flights were technically booked on LAN, a fabulous airline serving South America, they were serviced through American for the first leg, including check in. So we got to the airport in plenty of time, and as we weren’t able to check in online at the hotel (I assumed because of the international nature of the flight), walked up to one of their machines and started the process.
Retrieved the reservation fine, entered our names and passport numbers, scanned the passports (which worked very poorly), and then got a message that there was a problem and we needed to talk to a person. So we did. Apparently the domestic machines and the international machines are completely different (they look identical) so we needed to walk down to the International part of American and start again. Why the machine didn’t tell me this as soon as I retrieved my reservation is a mystery. So we walked down, started going through the same process, this time with the help of an agent. Got the same error message. Was then routed to an actual agent at the check in counter (remember those) and after 15 minutes of failure using modern technology, we were checked in in 5 minutes. I think there might be a lesson there.
#TSAwin aka #WTF
After the check in mini-fiasco, we headed over to security; always a good time, right? Well for some reason, perhaps because I was traveling with my son (though he’s 12, so not a small child) we were routed to the express security line. Didn’t have to take off shoes, left computer in bag, went right through. Cool for us, but as always with TSA it seems, questionable security.
Flying Down to Chile
After that, the flights were pretty uneventful. Had a nice view of Chicago on the way out, and of the frozen Midwest before cloud cover took over. Landed Miami in the evening, then got to walk the entire perimeter of the Miami airport because as far as I can tell, this U-shaped terminal has no way to cut across. I could be wrong, but all the signs had us walking around; we even had to go through security again (no expedited line this time, either). Stupid, stupid design Miami.
But LAN, oh my. Got on the plane to find a nicely packaged bundle of a blanket, pillow, eyeshade, earplugs and headphones. The monitors on every seat were like Netflix, huge selection of movies and TV shows (and for people like us who’ve cut the cable and rely on over-the-air, that’s a big deal).
A real meal: mushroom & cheese ravioli, salad, cheese & crackers, cheesecake & M&Ms later; and the beer was free (I know, going to Chile I should have had the wine, but just wasn’t in the mood).
There had to be one, right? Well it’s the overnight flight from Miami to Santiago, because neither one of us slept much and were thus exhausted all the next day (more on that later, need to finish this up so Joel can go to bed). On the upside, we were on the correct side of the plane to see the Andes as the sun rose. So I’ll leave you with that and finish filling in tomorrow. Oh the stories we’ll tell.