I´m always a little sad to leave home but at 4.45 p.m. on Sunday, 28th February 2016, John J. picked me up to take me to Terminal 3 at the hated (by me, at any rate) Heathrow. Here, I boarded flight JJ8085 to Sao Paulo, Brazil. This was a Boeing 777-300 operated by the Bazilian carrier TAM, with whom I´ve not flown before. Before boarding, I made a quick visit to the British Airways Galleries Lounge which TAM passengers use because TAM are part of the ´One World´consortium. We commenced taxiing about right time (21:15) and made our way to the inevitable take-off queue. Runway 09R was in use for take-offs.
Well, the crew were friendly enough but I´ve been rather spoiled by recent flights with Quatar Airways and Emirates - the TAM equipment was not quite so modern, the menu not quite as comprehensive. The aircraft did have video on demand, but I couldn´t get it to work properly, so I had the novel experience of watching part of the recent James Bond film ´Spectre´ with no sound track and subtitles in Portuguese (Brazil´s main language). However, the seat went properly flat for sleeping, so I actually managed some periods of shut-eye, but I still found the eleven-and-a-bit hour flight tiring.
I´ve transited through Sao Paulo International once before. I didn´t enjoy that experience and the second attempt was no better. We arrived at the stand about 06:00 but, for some reason, it took over ten minutes to get the air bridge connected. The airport had been thoroughly rebuilt and enlarged since my first visit which meant that, despite moving walkways in places, the amount of walking was horrendous. I knew I wanted connecting flight JJ8018 for Buenos Aires and Heathrow has issued my boarding pass, but none of the departure screens showed the gate - just saying ´Check-in at area F´. Direction signage was in English and Portuguese but I found the positioning confusing. I realised I´d taken a wrong turn because what I thought was ´Transfer to International Departures´ appeared to lead only to 'Domestic Departures'. I retraced my steps to discover that the queue of hundreds of people which I'd thought was for the enquiry desk was actually the queue I wanted for Security before you could get back to International Departures.
This report was sent from Sao Paulo International Airport, which markets itself as ´GRUAirport´ ('GRU' is the ticketing code for the airport). I unkindly concluded that ´GRU´ might be short for ´Gruesome´. Rant over (for a while).
Next South Atlantic post.
All my South Atlantic posts.
There are a few pictures of the trip in the album South Atlantic Voyage.
You can find all my pictures on the trip in the Collection Cape to Cape (still being added to, at the time of writing).
['Cape to Cape' collection added 2-Apr-2016]