The Traveling Steve's

Flight to Santiago

On the last post Steve (DOS) and I were relaxing a bit in The Premium Lounge in Miami, waiting for our 10:45pm flight to Santiago, Chile.


And now, a day later, I’m happy to report we had a great flight down and our hotel was ready when we checked in this morning.

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The Premium Lounge at Miami Airport is located at the E-Concourse, and was about a 10 minute walk from our gate at D-23.  IMG_3622We headed down towards the gate around 9:50pm and arrived just as they had started boarding at 10pm.  I was seated in window/aisle seat 2L and DOS was right behind me in 3L on this Boeing 777-200 series wide body jet on American Airlines.  American has recently reconfigured this type aircraft in a two class configuration of Business and Coach, although their Business Class is truly First Class in every way!

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In the Business Class section there are only 4 ‘pods’ across the width of the plane, arranged in a 1 X 2 X 1 seating, which allows every passenger aisle access.  Unlike some aircraft’s configuration, you also don’t have to ‘climb over’ a seat mate to go to the lavatory, so this makes for an ideal arrangement.  The seats are arranged alternating front and back, and at least on this plane the middle section has a partition that lowers down, something it didn’t do when they first came out.  DOS and I are going to sit in the middle section on the return flight, so we can report on how we liked that.

I loved the window rear-facing seat I was in, and DOS liked his forward facing window seat, although we felt isolated from each other as we couldn’t see each other the whole flight unless we got out of our seats.

IMG_3660Each seat has a large TV, which swivels out from the partition at the press of a button.  You can use either the touch screen TV itself to control it, or the remote control device located to the right of your seat.  I didn’t find this remote control to be overly intuitive, but I slowly figured it out.  It didn’t have a select button in the middle of the up and down channel/volume select area, but rather buttons at the top of the remote for ‘select’, so it seemed a bit confusing at first.

In between the excellent Flight Attendant service (I later counted the number of flight attendants as we went thru immigration, and there were a total of 13 for this flight, plus 3 pilots), I watched the 1982 movie ‘Diner’ with Steve Gutenberg and others, a coming-of-age story about a group of friends in 1959 Baltimore.  I lived in the Baltimore area years ago before moving to Florida, so I was familiar with Fells Point, where much of the story takes place.  I also liked the interactive flight display showing where we were on our route to Santiago.



The Business Class section on this plane consists of two sections, and we were in the forward section, which we preferred as it seemed a bit quieter.  Plus boarding is done in between the two Business Class sections, so you get everyone walking by you while boarding if you’re in the second BIZ section.   Once aboard, we were offered a glass of Bubbly, juice or water, and I had the Bubbly of course.  As the flight was delayed leaving once aboard, I even had a second glass of Bubbly; don’t know what it was but it was fine, although I’m not a Champagne/Sparkling wine connoisseur.

The take off was smooth, and it felt pretty cool taking off ‘backwards’ in my seat, but otherwise I didn’t really notice any difference flying backwards.  People have commented on other boards and Seat Guru about the seats being ‘creepy’; i.e. the forward and rear-facing seats are attached, so when one person moves, you feel it as well.  I noticed this only slightly, and only when the person in front of me got out of his seat, but it didn’t bother me at all throughout the flight, and I slept soundly after the meal.  (I guess the vino helped too!)

The food service started quite late due to the already late boarding hour, coupled with the minor mechanical delay, so it was after midnight before we were having our first course: mixed nuts and  a brewski for me.

IMG_3662This was followed by the main course and salad all served together, which considering the late hour was fine. I normally like a leisurely Business/First class meal, but as it was so late, I was ready to eat and then hit the sack.  I had the beef dish which was good, but a bit overdone for my medium rare taste.  I had an Argentina Malbec with dinner which was very nice.  I was hoping for some Chilean wine, as we are flying to Chile on this trip for a 3 day wine-tasting tour thru 3 different regions, but the Malbec was fine.

I had a dessert plate of assorted cheeses, along with some more Malbec, and after finishing the movie, was ready for bed.  IMG_3723I pushed the button to fully recline, and along with the large pillow and thick duvet-like blanket, was fully horizontal in mere moments.  BIG STEVE’S TIP!   There is a control for lowering and raising the seat/bed, but it’s in an awkward position behind and to the right of your seat.  I told Steve this morning after we arrived, that was the only complaint I had about the otherwise great seat.  His response was “You’re kidding, right?”  I said no, it was hard to get out of ‘bed’ when going to the restroom with the seat fully reclined, and not able to see the up button for the seat due to its location.  DOS told me there is actually a detailed seat control on the TV screen which is easy to use!  Who knew!  I will definitely look that up and report back on the return flight.

IMG_9249Anyway, I got a good 3 to 4 hours sleep on the flight before being woken up by a Flight Attendant for breakfast (they had requested if we wanted a ‘wake-up’ call before going to bed).   For the breakfast I had the quiche and fruit plate, along with coffee and juice.  We were served breakfast approximately an hour before landing, and had already been given the customs form to fill out upon boarding, so it was a nice last hour of the flight to adjust to the morning.  Here is an early morning photo of our descent into Santiago.


After touching down, we had about a 45 minute wait to go thru immigration, which has normally not been an issue for us upon arrival to Santiago.  The line moved quickly, but it was quite long as many flights arrived around the same 8:45am arrival time.  The nice thing about the wait though was our luggage was waiting for us at baggage claim.  American Airlines even had set aside the ‘priority bags’ in a separate section, thus not waiting for the baggage-go-round hunt and seek.

DOS pre-paid a cab inside the terminal at one of the ground transportation booths there (highly recommended) before exiting customs and the scores of people waiting (and pushing their cab service) outside.  We showed someone our voucher, and we were quickly shown to the appropriate cab and on our way.  IMG_9258 (1)  The taxi fare was the US equivalent of around $36 for our 30 minute trip to the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where we are staying the first and last night’s of our Labor Day Chile adventure.

Once at the hotel, we were assisted by the familiar doorman Patrick there, who remembered us from our last visit in July.  Here’s a photo we took then, and he welcomed us back with a smile.


IMG_3747Fortunately our room was ready, and we were escorted up to room 1212 by the bellman.  Our 12th floor room offered spectacular views of the Andes Mountains.

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After settling in and showering, a short nap was next.  While traveling to South America we don’t experience jet lag like going to Europe, (as Chile is only an hour time difference from Florida), I was never-the-less tired out from my work week and early flight yesterday, coupled with only three or four hours sleep on the flight to Santiago.  I woke up an hour later a bit groggy, but ready for a “fancy” lunch.

My “fancy” lunch was at McDonald’s, of course, which has become a tradition for me every time I come to Santiago.  It’s quick, easy, and hits the spot as a quick pick me up, as well as open for lunch early; something the sit down restaurants don’t seem to do until noon or so.  Before going, I asked the Hotel Concierge to write out for me ‘No Pickles or Onions’ in Spanish, as each time I go, I’m at a loss for words in the translation!  Even last time with Google Translate, it didn’t come out quite right and I got a confused look at Mickey D’s.  The Concierge remembered us from our last visit, and was happy to oblige with the translation.IMG_3729


We walked a few short blocks in this upscale neighborhood to the mall, and went to the food court there, although I did get a shot of a drive thru McDonald’s on the way there.  IMG_3727I ordered a Grand Mac meal showing the clerk my ‘no pickles or onions translation’ and Coke Light, for 4,400 pesos.  With the current exchange rate of 670 to 1 US Dollar, that was about $6.56.


DOS got a pizza at a nearby food outlet, and we had our meal in the large food court seating area.  IMG_3733

We then walked around the mall a bit, touring their local version of Macy’s, called Paris, and a couple other stores.  While we didn’t buy anything, we did look thru the Chilean wine selection at a couple of the department stores, to familiarize ourselves with what was to come.

It was such a beautiful day, and we then walked around a bit outside enjoying the slightly cool Spring day, and back at the hotel enjoyed walking around the pool and grounds area of the hotel. For a hotel in the middle of this sprawling high-rise residential area, the Grand Hyatt has a tropical, resort-like, isolated feel to it – quite nice and relaxing.

IMG_3751IMG_3756 IMG_3759IMG_3779 (1)The Hyatt was setting up for an outdoor wedding which we walked by, conveniently set near the pool area.

IMG_3771Late afternoon, we took another short nap, and at 6pm went up to the 16th floor Concierge Lounge for the evening reception of drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  I had an Astral Cerveza  from Patagonia, and DOS had a glass of Cabernet.   We sat for quite a while, sampling a few cheeses without getting full for dinner.  I worked on this blog for a while, and we headed out for dinner shortly before 8pm.

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IMG_3785 IMG_3787Dinner was at Santa Brassa, our favorite steakhouse and restaurant in Santiago, and is located in the same mall area where we had lunch.IMG_3738  Santa Brassa has indoor and outdoor seating, but we sat inside, with a window view of passers by.  The hostess remembered us from our last visit and even asked us how our trip to Easter Island was!  She is really a delight, and translated our order for us to our waiters.  We also showed her photos of our last meal there, which we wanted to repeat.

We had the shrimps prepared in a sauce with olive oil which were a great starter.  Later we had our dry-aged ribeye cooked medium rare, along with a shared order of hand cut fries, which reminded me of the type served at Five Guy’s back home – nice and fresh.


We also ordered a salad, but they brought it at the same time as the steak, so we ate the French way, having our salad after the meal.

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We paired our dinner with a nice Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.  Compared to the Napa Valley Cabs, the Chilean Cabs have a different taste; somewhat lighter and not as full bodied, but was enjoyable with our meal.

For dessert we had a delicious gelato filled pastry for two, with a ‘treble clef’ topping made of caramel. Yummy!

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It was a full day of travel, resting up, getting acclimated to the climate and new surrounding, and rounded off with a wonderful dinner.

Bienvineda en Chile!


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