Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Delays at Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires Airports

In the first post in this series here, I grumpily described the trip to Sao Paulo. I joined the queue for security which inched forward at a rate which would have shamed any self-respecting snail until a couple of staff appeared and started to divert the rear of the queue, including me, a different route. It seemed that they'd decided to open up another security lane to clear the backlog. Unfortunately, the lane they'd opened only lead to Terminal 2, which none of the queue wanted. Two more staff impatiently urged the 'cleared' passengers down the stairs (no namby-pamby escalators in this part of the airport) and we all, rather naively, assumed they'd made arrangements to route us back upstairs. They hadn't so two passengers opened one of the moveable tape barriers and we appeared at another staffed, but otherwise quiet, security. We quickly gave up trying to explain we'd just been through a different security and submitted to a second check before finally being allowed back into Terminal 3.

There was then a fair walk to locate the TAM Airways lounge, which was quite an impressive affair. Because of the delays we'd suffered, I didn't think I had sufficient time to set up my laptop computer and log on the free WiFi, so instead I had a decent wash before scurrying off on the walk ("allow 20 minutes" the desk told me) to the gate for my onward flight to Buenos Aires. There were plenty of people waiting but no movement. The check-in staff advised me of a 70-minute delay so I traipsed back to the Lounge where one of the girls apologised profusely - they'd been unaware of the delay. I then hunted for a 'fixed' computer. I only found one (not one free, just one computer), carefully set on a high shelf with no high chairs, forcing the user to stand. I assumed this was a cunning plan to stop people from 'hogging' the computer but I hurridly published my first report before returning to the gate.

The crew managed to board everybody and ran the safety briefings. This one was a rather irritating affair with Computer Generated Images. Unfortunately, it was a while before we were cleared to taxi so, by the time we took off from runway zero nine left, we were about two hours late. The Boeing 767 appeared more modern than the 777 on the first leg - I even managed to watch the rest of the James Bond film with sound. However, they were running the passenger cabin so cold, I had to make use of the duvet they provide.

On our arrival at Buenos Aires, when we finally stopped at the gate, everybody was on their feet ready to disembark. Although the air bridge moved across to us, apart from some rather ominous shaking as the air bridge repeatedly 'rammed' us, nothing else happened for about fifteen minutes. Whilst parts of Buenos Aires International Airport are fairly modern, we were clearly at an older part, with older air bridges. I don't know whether this had any bearing on the final late disembarking. Immigration Control was fairly quick and friendly, but did require foreigners to have a photograph and right hand thumbprint taken. One consequence of the delay opening the cabin door was that lots of luggage was already waiting when we got to the baggage reclaim carousel and the baggage loaders were sending through even more bags. At each bend, the overloaded belt was dropping bags on the floor and, just after I spotted the distinctive multi-coloured strap on my bag, the conveyor started issuing painful noises and slowed almost to a standstill. I didn't see what happened next, as I was trying to locate the end of a long queue of people with bags waiting to go through customs. My assumption that over-zealous customs officers were causing the delay was quite wrong - no customs officials were apparent and the customs forms we'd filled-in on the aircraft didn't seem to be being collected. The hold-up was caused by all arriving bags being X-rayed by a battery of machines. Although there were lots of staff in attendance, passengers were being allowed to do all the lifting-on and lifting off. With all the delays, I was more concerned as to whether I would be met in the arrivals hall, as arranged but this, and the rapid transfer by taxi to my city centre hotel, was the one part of the day which went to plan.

However, tired and hot, I'd only just found my room on the 8th floor when I discovered that my camera, which I'd been using regularly from Heathrow until just before arrival at my Buenos Aires hotel, was missing. I assumed it was on the back seat of the taxi, overlooked as I struggled to collect the other items. The hotel reception staff phoned the firm who'd provided the taxi transfer but, at present, nothing is known regarding the fate of this important accessory. As you can imagine, this rather limited my enjoyment of my short time in Buenos Aires as, the following morning, I faced another flight to Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina where I was to join the ship for my South Atlantic Voyage.

Related posts

Next South Atlantic post.

All my South Atlantic posts.

My pictures

You can find all my pictures on the trip in the Collection Cape to Cape (still being added to, at the time of writing). There are a few pictures of the trip in the album South Atlantic Voyage.

['Cape to Cape' collection added 5-Apr-2016]