Do you know the way to San…tiago?

17 Feb

“Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.”

~ Al Gore

When flying direct from Sydney to Santiago the last thing you want to see on your inflight map is a picture like this:

Unexpected flight plan<a

A medical emergency on board meant doing an unscheduled stop in New Zealand. A passenger became very ill and it was decided that she was too sick to continue the journey to Santiago. The closest airport was Christchurch so the pilot had to turn around.

It’s the first time that I’ve been on a flight and heard an announcement requesting that any doctor on board report to the crew. It was just like in the movies! Luckily for the patient we had not one, but three doctors on board.

I hope the lady is ok. Assuming she was conscious, it must have been awful to be that sick on a plane. For privacy reasons they couldn’t tell us much. All I know is that they had an ambulance waiting for her at the airport so she could be whisked off to the local hospital.

We then had to wait on board for the aircraft to be refuelled. Apparently Christchurch doesn’t get many 747s so this took a little longer than expected. Three tankers were needed to refill the plane with what I think I remember the pilot saying was 20 tonnes of fuel.

I imagine it would have been a costly exercise for Qantas because we had to jettison all our fuel before we landed in Christchurch. Planes can’t land if they’re too heavy. I happened to have the best seat in the house to watch this happen. Here’s a photo:


The entire detour took 5 hours so my 12 and a half hour flight ended up being 17 and a half hours instead. That’s a long time to be stuck inside a plane.

The upside was that while we were waiting in NZ lots of people stood up in the aisles to stretch their legs. We had an impromptu aisle party of sorts. All the passengers in my section of the plane started mingling and chatting, so I got to know all my ‘plane neighbours’ reasonably well.

We landed in Santiago 3pm local time and then it took me another two and a half hours to make my way through immigration, customs and catch the bus to my hotel in the centre of town. Before our diversion to NZ I had been thinking of heading out and about that afternoon/evening to explore the city a little, but I was so exhausted all I could manage was a room service dinner before going straight to bed.

The next day was definitely a better day, although it too involved a travel adventure/mishap, but I’ll save that for the next post. I feel wide awake, but I should probably put myself to bed. I need to get used to the time change. Night night folks.


4 Responses to “Do you know the way to San…tiago?”

  1. chris dolahenty February 17, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    Glad you got there safely. have a great time. Look forward to reading about your adventures. Dee and Bertie xo

    • honduranhiatus February 19, 2013 at 2:15 am #

      Thanks Dee and Bertie. Am having a brilliant time. It’s been great to catch up with all my Mexican friends. Nice to know you’re following the blog. It’s a little self-indulgent but I think it will make a great record of my trip. xo

  2. Alex February 19, 2013 at 2:27 am #

    Loving your blog Em! It’s like I’m there, but with less jetlag 😉 x

    • honduranhiatus February 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      Thanks Alex! I’m enjoying writing it, although finding it hard to find the time to do so. The jet lag is slowly decreasing though which should make things a bit easier. xo

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