A night at Santiago airport with kids (and a shallow LATAM South America review)

We had an early flight and decided to spend the night at the airport. Genius, right? It'd save us a couple of hundred dollars from a hotel night. Well, the thing is... we have kids. Four. Click to know how it was.

A pin to make your life a little bit less complicated

We had a 6 am flight. Our usual routine is to sleep in a hotel on the night before an early flight. This time we’d have to wake up at 3 am at the most to be at the airport at 4 am. So we thought to ourselves: ‘Why not spend the night at the airport? There are the VIP rooms where we can sleep for a while.”. We thought it was such a great idea, saving money from the hotel + having a few more moments of peace.

The check-out from the apartment in Viña del Mar (Chile) was at noon. We’d bought the bus ticket to Santiago for 1:45. Then we’d have another bus to the airport. We scheduled arriving at the airport at around 4 pm. So we contacted LATAM-Chile to ask if we could drop our bag off 12+ hours before the flight and they replied that we could drop the bag off anytime as long as we’d done the online check-in. It was also said that we’d have no problems entering the departing area as long as we had the tickets. There was also the lounge in the airport, which had on their website that a daily pass cost $43/person. Not cheap, but doable and cheaper than the hotel. Check-in was done, we left Viña.

We arrived at the airport a bit after 4 pm, just as we thought, and went to drop the bags off and first problem: they wouldn’t have it. Nope, they said. The bag drop off is only 3-4 hours before the flight. One manager came and said she couldn’t do anything because she didn’t even read English (the e-mails were in English). After pressing a bit, she said that even though the e-mail person had said yes, she was saying that it didn’t mean we could drop the bags off at any time. It’s a mystery what it meant. So we were getting upset. She called for another manager. Angelo talked to her for around 30 minutes until she allowed us to drop the freaking bag off. It took us 1 hour just arguing with them.

It was still 13 hours from the flight.

sleeping airport

This is how they slept – not super comfortable, but it’s what we had that night

Bag checked – and I was sure it wasn’t arriving in La Paz (Bolivia) with us. We headed to the departing area. The lady scanning the tickets looked for a second longer at our tickets but let us pass. X-ray was fast, they didn’t even let us take our laptops from the bags. We went to immigration police. The officer there looked at our tickets and said that it was over 12 hours before the flight. We agreed, it was, indeed, 12,5 hours before. He said we could only let us in 12 hours before the flight. But then again, he stood up and went to ask someone about it.

At that time, we were just exhausted and just wanted to sit somewhere with a nice cup of tea (well, tea for me, coffee for Angelo and juice for the kids).

The officer came back and let us in, but he told us that we could only enter 12 hours before the flight because otherwise ti wasn’t confirmed yet. We thanked and entered.

You’d think that was it, but of course, it wasn’t.

Milkshake sounded good, so we headed to Johnny Rockets. We each ordered one and some fries. It was our lunch, after all. José had his milkshake and started feeling sick. After letting it all go, he started feeling better. But it took time.

And then the lounge at the airport said it was $50 per person for 6 hours – anything over it and it’s doubled. It’d be $600 for our 12 hours. We asked about the price on the website and they said it was wrong and nothing could be done. We went to the other lounge, and they said the same thing (except that their price was a bit lower).

OK, it was enough. We were tired and decided to sit at the charging station and stay right there. Angelo went to buy some Coke (Coke is great for when you’re feeling queasy) and decided to go around looking for other lounges. They are expensive, but they have better internet (important), food, and drinks. And better chairs, super important.

The other ones closed sometime during the night (even though some said they had 24/7 service on the website), so it’d be no use for us.

That was it. We just stood there, using the free internet, and resting.

The kids ended up falling asleep for a few hours lying on the seats ( the great thing the airport was empty at that time of the night). It was cold, but it’s manageable – the kids do carry on only so they had all their clothes there. And the music was loud and annoying. The same 20-30 songs played on repeat and it was a Glee album, I’m pretty sure. After the second round, it wasn’t funny anymore. Luckily, we had a lot of work to do, a lot of decisions to make and time to talk without the kids listening (the music was that loud and they were asleep).

boarding time santiago airport

The poor kids after waking up – right before boarding

It was our 3rd LATAM South America flight in 3 months (from Brazil to Uruguay, from Uruguay to Chile, from Chile to Bolivia). They were all pretty much the same, with 2~3 hours flights on a simpler aircraft. On our first flight, my seat’s recline button was pushed inside the seat – it was literally lost somewhere inside the hole where it should be, but other than that, no major issue. The seats weren’t super comfortable nor were the service of the food great, but I don’t really expect it ever – it rarely is. Only on our last flight (to Bolivia) that Coral received an activity book.

The flights were cheaper than all the others we found in Latin America and that’s why we chose them. They did their job in taking us from point A to point B BUT they do need to improve their support. For once, the information they give needs to be the right one (we contacted them again from the airport and they said that the e-mail didn’t count, what the staff at the airport said was the rule). And the staff need to try and be a little more respectful. We were met not only with misinformation, but with indifference, rudeness, and sarcasm while trying to check our bag.

And, to my surprise, the bad did arrive at La Paz airport with us – incredibly dirty but safe and untouched.

But, no, thanks. We’re not willing to do that again.

So, if you’re flying LATAM, don’t really try anything out of the norm because they’re not willing to help. Otherwise, it’s not the worst company we’ve flown.

What is the worst flight you’ve had?

8 replies
  1. Tatiana Saito
    Tatiana Saito says:

    Ainda bem que as cadeirinhas eram fofinhas, né? Olha, tem barato que acaba saindo caro. Às vezes é melhor pagar um hotel do que passar por esses perrengues todos, que sugam nossa energia vital…


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