Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Flying the Argentinian skies - Argentina

Waiting for my plane in El Calafate

So you might have noticed that I've been gone the last week. I admit to succumbing to a last hurrah around South America. Specifically the part frequently called "El Fin del Mundo" or end of the world. As a few t-shirts said, I prefer to think of it as the Beginning of the World--the wildly beautiful Patagonia including Ushuaia and El Calafate. 

I will try to contain myself about the place as after all, this is a blog about Brazil. And I am in the last week (!!) of my year-long challenge of daily posts. Can hardly write it all about the land of Messi and Cristina, right? But of course, I will have to indulge in just a little bit of comparison with my adopted country of Brazil.

First of all, Aerolineas Argentinas, their now nationalized airline is muuuuuch better than it used to be. I used to be afraid of getting on those old planes. Now, they have nicer planes than many US airlines (hello US ScAirways!). They don't have movies on the backs of seats (a huge disappointment to the 7 year olds) except on the Embraer 190s, one of which we took from São Paulo to Buenos Aires. That is a nice plane. I would like to congratulate all ITA graduates for being anyhow associated with that plane.  BH will like that. He is an ITA graduate. He might have associated with someone who built that plane.

Second of all, still on the Aerolineas subject, there are two other quirks that made me laugh. One, if you are on a national flight, you had better get there two hours in advance, because if they have everyone there early, they simply take off early. Yes, true story. On Wednesday, we had a 5:25 am flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and we were at the airport at 3:30 am. They loaded us on at 4:30 am and we were in the air by 4:45. Now that was an efficient boarding process--literally loaded on, sat down, and the plane pushed back. Love. Happened in Ushuaia and El Calafate too. So word to the wise: your actual flight time means nothing. Be early.

The other part of the Aerolineas subject is the clapping. When the plane landed in all national airports, the entire plane broke into loud and steady applause. My kids were craning their heads to see what had happened that everyone was so enthusiastic. Were people so surprised that they had landed another flight or is it like the good old days of flying when people were genuinely impressed and appreciative of the fact that a couple of regular guys had once again brought 240 people from 0 to 35,000 feet and then back again? I stopped to think about this one a bit. It is a truly amazing thing, this flying. I say "Yay Argentinians" for reminding me of this.

Ushuaia-Argentine Malvinas airport. Yes, we get your point, Argentina

My final thoughts on the flying portion of my trip is that Wow! Does Argentina know how to build an airport! (also they need to get over the "loss" of the Malvinas, but that's a subject for another day). In Ushuaia, the gorgeous terminal was built (another one had existed on site) in 1995, and kicks the butt of any small airport (Ushuaia population: 70,000) anywhere. Seriously. And free wi-fi.  And that's without throwing in the views from the airplane window (see below).
El Calafate International (I kid you not) Airport

In El Calafate, things are even nicer: that airport was built only in year 2000 and designed by an Uruguayan. Is that relevant? Why not? El Calafate is a town of 6,000 residents, maybe 8,000 counting all the stray dogs now that the tourism there is taking off. Their airport was used by 400,000 people during 2007 (source: Wikipedia). Wow! Dear Argentina, please send your airport terminal engineers to Fortaleza where our World Cup visitors will experience a canvas terminal.Oh, all right, that is totally unfair: Fortaleza has about double the passengers and has a pretty nice main terminal. And a canvas one. 

One more view of Ushuaia's airport - WOW!

Okay, so I've rambled on about the airline and airports long enough. If you all will give me license, I'm gonna yap more about Argentina tomorrow and maybe Thursday. Then I'm going to sum up my year of living daily posts. And then I'm taking Mother's Day off. And then I'll be back, but probably not daily. I've got a household to move and not enough time.

1 comment:

  1. Adorei seus comentarios! Matheus tambem adora bater palmas quando o pouso é perfeito!