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LATAM Flight AEP – MDZ | Economy
We took three intra-Argentina flights on this trip. Two on LATAM Argentina and one on Aerolineas Argentina. I’ll be sharing a couple of different LATAM experiences in this overall trip report. You’ll also see a comparison to Aerolineas Argentina – a new airlines for us.
After our little snafu upon arrival, we managed to make it to to the right airport with enough time for some pizza before our 1 hour and 54 minute from to Mendoza. Like every other experience with LATAM, the check-in lines were long, but moved fairly quickly. Even though we were transferring from another flight, it was booked separately, so we were treated as a new customer, not a transfer.
We were scheduled to leave at 15h55. We didn’t start boarding until 15h50. Adding to the boarding time, we were leaving from a remote stand. Unlike most airlines I’ve flown, the boarding process with LATAM Argentina is a little funky. Elite members board early, like every airline. Next, we were organized into two groups: small hand luggage and larger hand luggage.
We were traveling just with briefcases (or in my case a duffel), so we were in the small hand luggage line. I think the intent is board the small stuff first, which should fit under the seat, then everyone with larger bags boards and dukes it out. After our bus filled up, we were the first five people on the plane. We put our bags in the overhead bins and there we no issues. Easy enough.
I was in row three. The all-economy configuration was totally retro. These seats were the old formerly padded (now compacted) leather recliner style seats. No, these weren’t the first class style recliners. The pitch was awful. My knees were slammed into the seat in front of me from jump.
This was only exacerbated by the guy in front of me who couldn’t get out of his seat without leaning back as far as possible, nearly dislocating my patella. At least he only got up about 10 times on this less than two hour flight.
Once seated, the flight would never be ready for departure. The plane was nearly full and all the “large hand luggage” people struggled with their bags. There was plenty of room for bags. Unfortunately most people wanted their bags up front, so they would move bags in the first couple of rows, to fit theirs in. I had to ask three separate people not to move my bag. One guy took my bag out and set it on the ground, put his in its place and walked away. I called him back and handed him his bag. Crazy, no?
The flight itself was uneventful. We were served drinks and some nuts. There was no in-flight entertainment. I’m happy we charged our gear on the United flight, otherwise this would have been long and boring.
I’ll say that each time I fly LATAM throughout South America, I get a different experience. It’s never been stellar, but it seems like each of the planes is quite different. This one was so old, not to say that it was bad. The really new planes have the slimline seats that are like sitting on a bus bench.
Despite leaving nearly 30 minutes late, we landed in Mendoza right on time. We deplaned, at a gate this time and made our way immediately into baggage claim. The claim area was small, with only a couple of belts. Our bags were some of the last off the plane. Departing baggage claim was a mess. Security routed all passengers through an additional screening checkpoint. Most people ignored this and just pushed by. You could choose to wait in the line, or just walk around. We chose, initially to follow the rules. It wasn’t long before we made a different decision. We decided to just walked on by with about 100 other travelers.
After a long day of work, travel, surprise airport transfers, we finally made it to our first actual destination in Argentina. Mendoza. Hopping in a taxi we were off to the Park Hyatt and a couple days of wine tasting and wonderful spring warmth.
Have you flown LATAM Argentina? How did it differ from LATAM in other countries throughout South America?
Wait. Wrong Airport?
As we deplaned from our 10 economy flight from Houston, we had about four hours to kill at the Buenos Aires Airport We figured that we may be able to move to an earlier flight if we can make it through customs and immigration quickly. Well, that wasn’t going to happen.
Customs and Immigration
As we made our way to the checkpoint, we were herded into the foreigner line (rightly so), which had about 500 people ahead of us in line. With about six stations open, we knew we’d be here for a while. Luckily, I went to the bathroom before hopping in line.
Fast forward a little over an hour, it was our turn. I never know if we should go through the line together when entering a foreign country. We are married, but sometimes other countries don’t recognize same sex marriages and once, I had to go back into the line, which caused lots of people to think I was cutting. No issues in Buenos Aires though.
We grab our bags and head out to re-check and try for an earlier flight. As we check the big board, we don’t see our flight listed. We see flights to Mendoza, but not at our scheduled time and not many on our scheduled airline. My first thought was that there was a schedule change and we didn’t get notified. Or perhaps our LATAM flight was operated by someone that we hadn’t heard of before. We continued to ponder the big board and I grabbed our itinerary and found the problem.
A New Problem For Us
We were at the wrong airport. Instead of leaving from EZE (Ministro Pistarini International Airport) we were leaving from AEP (Aeroparque Jorge Newbery). This helps explain why the fine folks at United couldn’t check our bags all the way through to Mendoza. AEP is 43km (27 miles) from EZE, so it looks like we won’t be getting on an earlier flight, but we better get cracking if we don’t want to miss our current option.
We waited in the taxi queue for about 20 minutes, then another 25 for the taxi. At EZE you order a cab through a central dispatch, you are given a number and then eventually a driver shows up to transport you.
The ride to AEP was pretty uneventful and fast. It took us about 30 minutes, but the taxi was more like a fancy lawn mower than a car. Loud. Spewing fumes. Rickety. The driver was really nice and helped with our luggage and kept us safe among the other wild drivers. His car reminded me of an old roller skate – it’ll probably get you there, but a wheel could break off at any moment.
We arrived in plenty of time to make our flight, but there were absolutely no options for an earlier departure. So to kill time, we snagged a pizza in the food court, which was really great, by the way.
Our best laid plans for an early transfer fell short today. As we waited to board the flight to Mendoza we remembered that we chose the flight with the long layover because it saved us about 75USD per person. If we had gone with the earlier option, we would have missed it – likely leaving us with more travel troubles.
Have you ever realized you were at the wrong Buenos Aires airport? How about the wrong airport in ANY city?