18-20 April 2012 – Sydney, Australia
Originally, I had no intention of writing a blog about our trip home. Firstly, because from this day – the original group of 20 will now part ways. Two will stay in Bolivia, another two will fly to U.S. and the rest will head back to Sydney.
We had a 6:00am pick-up and Cintya came to see us off. We took a TACA flight to Lima, Peru and transferred to another TACA flight to Santiago, Chile. On the plane, we were given immigration papers to enter Chile, which is a bit surprising because we just need to pick-up our luggage and go on to a connecting flight with LAN to Sydney. Two others had connecting flights with American Airlines to the U.S.
To our surprise – we were being required to pay US$145 for each Australian passport holder to enter Chile so that we can pick up our bags. It is also expected that we pay a further US$45 to depart from Chile after we’ve checked in with our connecting flights. Understandably, we were up and arms about it, it is a diplomatic robbery. These fees are only imposed on Australian, Canadian, U.S. and British passport holders – with varying reciprocity fee for each nationality.
We were told to contact the LAN office to see if there was an alternative. Sure enough, the LAN staffs were helpful and collected our baggage tag details. They arranged for our luggage to be collected and loaded to their plane without us having to go through Chilean immigration and avoiding the fees in the process.
The two others who were flying with American Airlines (AA) were not so lucky. AA did not assist them and worst may have confused them into believing that they were arranging for their luggage to be picked up. In fact – they were waiting for TACA to deliver the luggage to them but it was never going to happen. Their luggage are now likely to be on the unclaimed luggage in Santiago, Chile Airport.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. The 6 hour wait in Santiago was largely filled with us running around trying to figure out how to get our bags through. The 12 and a half hour flight to Auckland, New Zealand – passed mostly by sleeping. The short stay at the Auckland airport where some ladies including Jeanne still managed to do some more shopping.
There was a brief moments of scary turbulence closer to landing in Sydney. It is scarier than the usual turbulence as the plane dropped quickly giving that rollercoaster drop feeling. Some passengers let out a slight scream then an uneasy silence amongst the passengers. Then everything calmed, as the LAN crew moved about calmly and went on business-as-usual. As we circle the city – we saw the familiar landmark of the centre point tower, the harbour bridge and the opera house. There was a bit of joy in my heart and pride that I live in one of the best city in the world.