My trip to South America begins with a long wrong flight


I’ve often wondered why many frequent flyers these days give American Airlines a bad rap.

Mine was a nice smooth flight yesterday from SFO to DFW . The attendants were fine. One would frequently give my arm a friendly pat warning me against being whacked from behind by the oncoming beverage cart. I appreciate things like that. And this morning the coach class seats on American’s Boeing 767 to Santiago are comfortable, even sporting a wider pitch than some others I’ve experienced lately.

The American Airlines unscheduled night flight prepares to land in Santiago

The only trouble was that this flight was scheduled to leave DFW at about 9 last night – some 12 hours earlier than it did today. This morning and afternoon I was going to begin a day-long project, becoming acquainted with Santiago de Chile. Instead, I’ll check in to the Sheraton just in time to sleep – without knowing anything more about the skinniest country in the world and its citizens than I did before leaving home.

Personnel at the Dallas Marriott North Hotel are very familiar with this situation, since American routinely puts up its refugee passengers there. It happens “multiple times” said the Marriott woman who acted as shuttle dispatcher to us displaced persons. The van driver said it had to do with AA’s last flight of the day which was always the one to Santiago. If there was some AA plane “out of service” it would somehow fall to this flight to get the neck of the chicken.

“But don’t write about it, he said.” I had given him a tip, and I imagine many other passengers did and do that, too.

On the bright side of things, I am looking forward to a good day tomorrow, when I am to take a day tour of the city as well as to meet with a long-time American expat, who has made a pleasant and perhaps profitable life in Chile.

And of course the following day, I will board the MS Veendam in Valparaiso. I don’t know the Veendam, but I have sailed several times with Holland America ships over the years. If previous experience is any guide, I will be welcomed there again with genuine old Dutch charm.



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