Santiago to Buenos Aires – It Should Have Been a Quick Flight But It Wasn’t

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I’m annoyed because:

  1. The plane is two fucking hours and a half late.
  2. There’s a two and a half fucking hours’ delay.
  3. We have been waiting for fucking two and a half hours in Santiago’s airport departure hall.

We knew it would be late. Why? Like Mark claims with a sigh, it’s not because “mommy knows everything” but because we’re flying Air Canada and let’s just say Air Canada’s track record of on-time flights is pretty awful.

And also, this is the Air Canada flight, the Toronto-Santiago-Buenos Aires route. We’re not going back to Canada, we’re just flying the Santiago-Buenos leg—but of course, the plane comes from Toronto and based on our experience, it’s always late.

If you look at my online search history from yesterday, you’ll find a cryptic “AC092.” Last night, we spent the evening searching for the flight status as it was leaving Toronto.

“It’s on time!”

“Oh, it’s 25 minutes late.”

“That’s not too bad.”

“Looks like it’s about an hour late now.”

“Not great, but it’s still okay.”

And when we woke up this morning, it had left two hours after schedule. Just before checking out in Santiago, AC092 was apparently flying over Peru.

We took the long route to the airport—taxi to the bus station on the Alameda, and then the bus to the airport. Slower, but cheaper than a taxi all the way to the airport.

“You know that the flight is late, right?” the woman at the check-in counter announced.

“Kind of.”

“New boarding time is 3:15 p.m.”

“That late?”

She shrugged.

“Can we claim compensation?”

“Of course, not. The delay is due to the… weather in Toronto.”

Liar. We checked. The weather was fine in Toronto—well, as fine as it can be at this time of the year. Air Canada is unreliable AND cheap.

So we waited, first in the arrival hall downstairs because the departure hall was packed, then we waited at the gate. Airports aren’t cozy places where you can relax—I’m lucky Wi-Fi was free, I got some work done.

The KLM flight to Buenos Aires as well as local airline flights to Argentina were on time.

Meanwhile, Air Canada passengers were lining up at the gate, many wearing winter clothes—those who had boarded in Toronto—and a few like us wearing shorts and feeling cold with the air con.

We did save a lot of money booking this flight because Feng used his Aeroplan points. But I was losing my sanity. I hate wasting time and being stuck in airports.

We finally boarded, a long process considering the plane was full. I started watching a French movie—okay, this is probably the only perk of Air Canada, every flight has a small French movie selection—interrupted by announcements in Spanish, English and French. Some passengers got a sandwich and a drink, and then since we were close to landing, the rest of the plane didn’t get anything, tough luck, gotta stop the meal service.

Mark watched It. I was tired of saying no. I’ll crowdfund his therapy if needed and we’ll avoid clowns for a while.

At 6 p.m., we finally landed in Buenos Aires. A football team who had won a trophy in Chile started singing and cheering upon touching Argentinean ground.

By the time we got the stroller at the gate, went through immigration—where we learned the reciprocity fee was no longer needed—and through customs, it was 7 p.m.

The only place where we didn’t waste time, for once, was at the notoriously unreliable Argentinean ATMs since we had exchanged money in Chile.

We checked in at 8 p.m. after taking a taxi from the airport.

“We should have arrived before 5 p.m.! It would have been perfect,” I complained once again.

Then I went out to find food and drink before the end of the business day, which is later than in most countries in Argentina but shops do close at one point.

I know Buenos Aires very well. Over the span of five trips, we’ve been there at least fifteen times. It’s our hub. Yet, I felt tired and confused. I couldn’t remember the exact exchange rate and whether the Carrefour on 9 de Julio was North or South. Was Plaza de Mayo this way or…?

Argentina is a familiar place yet it’s very different from Chile and it takes a few hours to adjust. Buenos Aires at night was confusing. Tucumán, Sarmiento and Corrientes instead of Catedral, La Alameda and Providencia. Crumbled banknotes, warm fridges and smaller empanadas. Different brands, people with blond hair instead of Andean black hair, a bit of a European atmosphere, saying “pocho” instead of “pollo”…

It should make more sense tomorrow, after I sleep.

Also, fuck Air Canada.

Waiting at the airport in Santiago

Waiting at the airport in Santiago… two hours later…

Landing in Buenos and leaving the plane last… because we’re waiting for the stroller

Pizza in Buenos Aires


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. That’s my #1 pet peeve about travelling, time spent in airport. Waiting on delayed planes, queuing at customs, waiting to board etc.
    Oh well, you made it! I’m sure after some rest everything will look better today 🙂
    Argentina is on the list of places I’d love to visit as well

  2. Martin Penwald on

    Curious. I thought that “cabotage” (I don’t know the English word) wasn’t authorized for air companies. After landing in a foreign country, i thought planes HAD TO go back to their home country.
    So, besides that, how is Mark doing after It?

    • Cabotage is the word in English too, and it’s rarely allowed. But strictly it applies to an airline from country X carrying passengers between two points within country Y. Here Air Canada is carrying passengers from Chile to Argentina, and that kind of arrangement is not uncommon. I once flew Cathay Pacific from San Francisco to Vancouver – the first short leg of a SF to Hong Kong flight for most passengers, and that was considered quite normal.

      • Thank you for your input! I still find it confusing as a passenger, especially when you aren’t explicitly told the plane will stop in an another country (i.e. like us the first time we flew this route to Buenos Aires and ended up in Santiago!)

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