Well, another day and still no idea when things will change here in Coyhaique! Yesterday Ethan and I got a new ticket out on LAN. It is for 5 pm today. We have just about enough gas to get to the airport – if we coast down all the hills and keep the RPM’s as low as possible. BUT the road to Balmaceda is completely closed for 24 hours ending at 6 pm tonight. Our “early out” ticket to Santiago isn’t going to do us any good.
This morning we walked over to the LAN office to see about changing our ticket. To get there we had to go through the Plaza. There were big demonstrations there last night complete with a tire fire. Counting the steel belts it looks like a 5 fire night. There is also the start of a tent city. Public toilet on the Plaza and a popcorn cart and an empanada cart there as well. The statue of General O’Higgins – the local hero – has a black mask on.
So we get to the LAN office about 3 minutes after 9, when it opened, and we are number 16 in line. Number 13 is an American couple there with their Chilean guide. Tried to engage them in conversation. Guide asked about where we had been fishing and the wife spoke in short curt responses. Husband never looked up. They got the agent right in front of where we were sitting. Guide did most of the talking to the agent since the couple didn’t speak Spanish. The couple was scheduled to leave on the 5 pm flight we were on. Of course with the blockade until 6 pm that wasn’t going to happen.
The man told the guide to tell the agent that he wanted LAN to hold flight in Balmaceda until they got there and to call Santiago and have them tell Delta to hold the flight to Atlanta until they got there. The guide did – kind of – what he was instructed to do. Ethan said he toned down the man’s demand. I felt sorry for the guide. He couldn’t tell the man NO for fear of the repercussions at the lodge and he had to insult the agent by suggesting that this guy was more important than LAN airlines. You could see the anguish on his face. Thankfully he was dealing with perhaps the best airline agent I’ve ever seen – Claudia. She clearly understood the position, dealt with it and the jerk went away still angry but without having a stroke.
I am embarrassed to say that this pompous fool is also an American. We got lucky and had Claudia as our agent. After her last encounter we could have been hosed but our change went as smooth as silk!
How about contacting LAN airlines and telling them they have a gem of an agent named Claudia in their Coyhaique office: United States 1 866 435 9526 or MIA: 305 670 9999.