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A Route to the End of the World: How to Travel to Chilean Patagonia

October 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM | by | Comments (0)

Go south, way south, to Chilean Patagonia. As home to snow-capped mountains, dramatic fjords, extreme weather, exotic flora and fauna, and the world's second largest ice field, it's no wonder this region ranks high on traveler's bucketlists. We've just crossed it off our own, and all week we'll be sharing our top tips to making this dream destination a reality vacation.

It is impossible to take a bad photo in Patagonia. In fact, the scenery begins the moment your flight sets off from Santiago Airport, with a course due south to Punta Arenas, as it passes over the Andes mountains and the lake district around Puerto Montt en route to the southernmost city on the South American mainland and the gateway to Chilean Patagonia.

Crossing the lines of latitude may be invisible events, but events nonetheless; every few minutes of flight means progressing where once only the most intrepid explorers dared venture. In fact, the name of Punta Arenas was once "Magallanes," after Ferdinand Magellan, first to circumnavigate the Earth and first to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific, via the Strait still named for him.

Approach to Punta Arenas Airport (code: PUQ, full name: Aeropuerto Internacional Presidente Carlos Ibáñez) happens over the white caps of the Strait of Magellan. Keep a look out for rainbows, as they'll be the first of many magical sights to come in Patagonia.

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The Seven Sites You've Just Gotta See in Chile's Atacama Desert

October 24, 2013 at 4:07 PM | by | Comments (0)

The Atacama Desert of northern Chile is the driest place in the world with some of the craziest scenery. It's no wonder it often features high on traveler's bucketlists. We've just crossed it off our own, and all week we'll be sharing our top tips to making this dream destination a reality vacation.

Now that we've explained how best to reach northern Chile's Atacama Desert and even how to pack, it's high time to venture out and explore the dramatic landscape.

All of these sights we hit as part of excursions from our hotel, the Alto Atacama, just outside the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Driving to them independently is possible, and we even witnessed some intrepid travelers in reinforced vans setting up camp in their cars at particularly scenic overlooks, but many of the area's hotels specialize in expert-led tours of which you should absolutely take advantage. Getting lost out there may be fun for two minutes, but this is one instance where it's best to keep to the beaten paths.

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Beyond SPF: What to Pack for a Trip to the Atacama Desert

October 23, 2013 at 5:24 PM | by | Comments (0)

The Atacama Desert of northern Chile is the driest place in the world with some of the craziest scenery. It's no wonder it often features high on traveler's bucketlists. We've just crossed it off our own, and all week we'll be sharing our top tips to making this dream destination a reality vacation.

What the Atacama harms with its harsh environment, it makes up for with stark beauty. Thus, venturing into the Atacama Desert is no road trip to Joshua Tree and a little forethought will go a long way.

Now let's get packing...

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Mars on Earth: How to Travel to Chile's Atacama Desert

Where: Calama, Chile
October 22, 2013 at 2:27 PM | by | Comments (0)

The Atacama Desert of northern Chile is the driest place in the world with some of the craziest scenery. It's no wonder it often features high on traveler's bucketlists. We've just crossed it off our own, and all week we'll be sharing our top tips to making this dream destination a reality vacation.

Listen for the whirr as the landing gear of the LAN Airlines A320 descends. In a few minutes more, you'll be on the ground that now, at a few thousand feet, looks like a stretch of rusty orange nothingness. From that nothingness appears a runway, and a few bumps later you've entered the oldest desert on Earth.

Although the Atacama's arid expanse seems peaceful, it's actually only a thin veil disguising the truth of the region—that its volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, salt lakes, towering sand dunes and whipping winds mean the very ground underneath your feet is extremely alive and active. It's often said that the terrain resembles the surface of Mars more than anything you'd expect to find here on Earth and, in fact, NASA maintains testing sites here.

As you can imagine, reaching such an extreme place requires some equally extreme travel, but it can be done. Pack moisturizer and come along...

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The 6 Most Scenic Flights in South America

Where: Chile
October 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM | by | Comment (1)

If you think the above photo is beautiful—it's our Andes view from LAN Airlines flight 158 from Santiago to Calama—then get ready to have your mind blown and your bucketlist overflowing.

South America is a land of such staggeringly varied terrain, from desert to glaciers and rainforest to snow-capped peaks, that flying over it without requesting a window seat is one of the biggest travel mistakes one can make.

Now, which route? Get your camera ready because, using our own past travel knowledge and a passion for experiencing the extremes, we've laid out the Six Scenic South America Routes to Fly Before You Die:

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One Stuck Traveler is Living Like Tom Hanks in 'The Terminal'

Where: Chile
February 11, 2013 at 9:11 AM | by | Comments (0)

We feel like this isn’t the first—and probably isn’t the last—time something like this will go down at the airport, but once again we’re looking at a real life story straight out of the Tom Hanks movie The Terminal. It doesn’t sound like there was a cute flight attendant in this example, as apparently Catherine Zeta-Jones was too busy to reprise her role in the real life sorry. Anyway, the latest airport sleepover all took place over the last few months at Santiago Airport in Chile.

It’s been a couple of months since Rodrigo Ben-Azul first arrived at the airport, and it’s all because he can’t get back to Spain. There’s no political conflict back home like in the movie, but his problem is way simpler. He’s run out of money and he’s flat broke. Apparently he’s waiting for family back in Spain to wire some euros his way, but until then he’s been collecting the luggage trolleys hoping to earn a few cents here and there.

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What It's Like to Fly for 10 Hours on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Where: Santiago, Chile
January 14, 2013 at 12:05 PM | by | Comments (0)

It flies! It actually flies!

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a headline hog. You can read all about it and its drama (lately more than ever) throughout major media, but there's nothing better than actually stepping onboard with a ticket to ride.

After more than a year of hanging out with the 787 on the tarmac, we finally flew the darned thing as South American airline LAN celebrated the inaugural flight of their new Los Angeles-to-Santiago, Chile 10-hour non-stop with the spiffy new bird.

So, what actually happens onboard a 787 flight? Is it really so different from any other airplane? Having just stepped off of this, our first 787 flight, we can finally answer those questions: lots of stuff and yes.

To describe a 10-hour flight is akin to boring neighbors with photo slides of a water park vacation. Instead, we're breaking it down into the hourly highlights ("the short of it") and, for those rapt with pleasure for every detail, the long of it, in first-person:

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Celebrating LAX's First 787 Flight: LAN 603 Non-Stop to Santiago, Chile

January 11, 2013 at 1:50 PM | by | Comments (0)

While this week hasn't exactly been all sunshine and rainbows for airlines flying their Boeing 787 Dreamliners around the world, last week sure was. On January 2, we stepped onboard aircraft CC-BBC, the gleaming new third 787 delivered to South American airline LAN for what would be a monumental inaugural flight, non-stop from Los Angeles-LAX to Santiago, Chile-SCL.

Our ticket read seat 1L. As the first row, first window on the right, that's practically a cockpit jumpseat (though our legroom and recline would be better). This would be more than a first 787 flight from LAX; it would be our own, personal first 787 flight. To say we were psyched is a gross understatement. The energy and optimism rippled through the line of waiting passengers in all classes, holding all types of tickets, as a special party for the full flight began at the gate.

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How to Say '787 Dreamliner' in Spanish

Where: Santiago, Chile
January 7, 2013 at 5:24 PM | by | Comments (0)

How do you say "787?" Seven-eight-seven or seven-eighty-seven? Though technically both are perfectly acceptable, the language may vary depending on the country to/from which you're flying the new airplane. And, since United is the only US operator of the airlines with Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the international names for the bird are more prevalent.

Before we set off on last week's LAN inaugural flight from LAX-SCL on their newest Dreamliner, @PointstoPointB tweeted us to ask: "how do they call the plane in Spanish onboard? Siete Ocho Siete? Siete Ochenta y Siete? El Sueñoliner?"

Well, dearest @PointstoPointB and future flyers of the LAN Dreamliner, we cleared up the issue firsthand with LAN's flight attendants. Their answer:

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Follow Along on the First Boeing 787 Dreamliner Flight from LAX

January 2, 2013 at 3:18 PM | by | Comments (0)

Hello from LAX! Today we're off to Santiago, Chile (our 2012 Destination of the Year), though this time it's not the city we're checking out; we're flying 10-ish hours each way simply for the airplane taking us there. That's right—it's the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and this is yet another huge entry on its history timeline as LAN inaugurates a fresh route with their spanking new wings.

LAN Airlines was the fourth carrier to receive a Dreamliner, but first in the Americas. Today they tack on a few more records, as this inaugural flight—LAN 603 LAX - SCL—is...
· The first 787 scheduled service from LAX
· LAN's first 787 route to North America
· The first 787 service overall between North and South America
· The first non-stop service from LAX to Santiago, Chile (a new route that'll operate 3x/week, Wednesday-Friday-Sunday)

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Airline News Round-up: 787s and an A380 for Everyone!

October 5, 2012 at 11:36 AM | by | Comments (0)

Too much awesome aviation news came down the pipeline this week, so we'll just wrap it up neatly for you with some bullet points:

· LAN's first 787 Dreamliner hit the South American skies: Well, it's official; South America's first Dreamliner is running its first regularly scheduled service, flying 22x week between Santiago (SCL) and Buenos Aires (EZE). The inaugural happened on October 1 after the plane got some fresh ink (check out the 787 underneath the cockpit windows). Wanna see more? LAN's Facebook page has an entire gallery from the event and our own photos and video of the delivery event are still hot and fresh.

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Photos and Video: Inside and All Around LAN's Very First Boeing 787 Dreamliner

September 4, 2012 at 1:21 PM | by | Comments (3)

New airplane alert! On Saturday, September 1, LAN Airlines picked up its very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, becoming the first in the Americas to operate the aircraft. From the factory to the runway at Boeing's Paine Field in Everett, WA, we were there to kick the tires, put the seats back and get a feel for her. Stay tuned the next couple days for more Dreamliner dispatches.

It's been nearly one year since the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner flew off into the blue skies above Boeing's factory on its way into commercial service. And, in that year, not one airline in the Americas has gotten their hands on the American-made aircraft. Until now. Until Chile's LAN Airlines signed on the dotted line, picked up the (ceremonial) key and said hasta luego before heading down to Santiago with a shiny new 787-8.

Why's it such a big deal anyway? Oh, well, aside from years of hard work and billions of dollars behind it, the 787 has some nifty features passengers will notice right away. For one, there's ginormous auto-dimming windows made possible by the plane's construction of composite materials. Another: the 30% increase in overhead bag storage space. Yet more: less engine noise, less CO2 emissions, the addition of humidity to that horribly dry cabin air, and the ability to pressurize the cabin at a lower altitude to cut down on headaches and fatigue. Enough—let's go inside already!

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