20070817
South America Prologue
The days leading up to the trip were incredibly hectic. Had outings / dinner almost every evening with coworkers (parted ways with my company on August 3rd), a reunion with elementary school friends and a team dinner, two days of competition and a family dinner during the weekend I flew down to Peru. I was exhausted when I finally got on the flight so I ended up sleeping like a baby on both legs of the trip. My slumber was only broken by the 2:55 layover at one of the worst airports I've ever been to, Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chávez in Lima.

The design is sufficiently modern but the layout is unintelligible and most of the employees working there aren't the most helpful individuals. New York's airports aren't great either but they were built way before Lima's so I'd give them some leeway in how bad their tacked on layouts are.

Upon arriving, I couldn't go directly to the domestic departures area. Instead, I had to exit the airport then make my way to domestic departures. I had a boarding ticket in hand so whenever I stopped to ask someone where to go, I was directed straight to the airport tax window and security screening. I never checked my hiking backpack in so it was only after I asked one of the guards at the security area that they told me to exit again and go downstairs to the domestic departures check-in. I refused to pay the airport tax again and it was only after talking to several individuals that they finally told me to go back down to the LAN airlines booth. I explained my story to the lady in charge there, she filled out a form and then directed me to the airport information area where I had to explain my story again before the information lady finally reactivated my airport tax bar code.
  1. Why can't the airport tax fees be included in my ticket price so I can skip the hassle (I think I'm going to be paying about $80 in total over six flights/stopovers).
  2. Does it make sense to exit the airport and then go through all the security checks again before boarding a connecting flight? They could save travelers the trouble and reduce their workload if they just allowed disembarking passengers to go straight to the domestic departure lounge. There aren't any weapons for sale on the plane or in the departure lounges, why rescreen everyone that just got off a plane.
I don't travel much so my complaints may seem trivial to all the frequent business travelers, vacationers.

By the way, I'm writing this on Friday morning, five days after Terry, Vince and I touched down in Buenos Aires. Still no sight of my snowboarding bag which didn't make the connection in Texas. Apparently it's been sitting in the delivery company's (Del Mar) truck for the last few days but they haven't had time to drop it off. Well done American Airlines, I'll remember this when I'm booking flights in the future. Also, thanks for charging me $80 even though ski bags should be accepted free in place of another checked luggage on your website (yet snowboard bags aren't). Glad to see Pei-Li didn't get charged for her snowboard bag. And by the way, most airlines I know of don't charge for ski/snowboard bags, LAN, Delta, Air Canada, Pei-Li's AA flight.

On a side note, that bag seems to be cursed. My trip to Whistler also consisted of missing snowboard bags, but it showed up two days later at the very least. Fortunately I learned from that mistake so I didn't pack all my clothes into the bag this time around. Even so, I had some slippers and clothing I could have used during my days in Buenos Aires. I better get the bag today, leaving for Bariloche soon and I NEED that bag for that leg of the trip. Things to be thankful for... LAN didn't lose or delay my backpack for the Salkantay Trek... that would have majorly sucked.

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