Saturday, August 28, 2010

14 Hours in Santiago: Or How I made $1600 without any effort...

Sushi, Champagne and FlyerTalk tag
The night started like many other nights, waiting at the airport for my next flight, I was flying back home to New York from Buenos Aires via Santiago de Chile on LAN Chile. After an uneventful, EZE-SCL flight I sat down , found myself some nice Champagne and started waiting for my flight to board, my flight was delayed so I started talking to a group of tourists who had just come from Mendoza and were on there way to Miami. I ask them if they want some more Champagne, since I was gonna serve myself my forth or fifth glass... they said sure, and I grabbed the bottle, since it would be easier to serve that way... another hour passes by, and the flight is still delayed... I ask the staff for another bottle, and I was shocked at their response... they ran out! It was official, together with my new friends we had left the lounge champagne-less... Now we aren't lightweights when it comes to Champagne, so I realized we had probably slightly hit the LAN Chile financials with our consumption levels... still that alone would have been a cool story... Finishing off a lounge supply of Champagne... and this was some decent French stuff, forgot the brand but later found it online for some $65-70 a bottle...
It's finally time to board and I grab my nice exit row seat, then I hear the flight attendant announce over the PA that they ONE volunteer to give up their seat in exchange for $500 in cash, plus hotel or hotel and $1600 in LAN credits... faster than you can say, chug it, I got up, pressed the call bottom, and after confirming the terms of the deal got off the plane... now it was paperwork time... It was already 2 AM , so the one hotel night became 2 nights so I wouldn't have to check out at 10 AM, they wanted to give me an airport shuttle, but I asked, anything downtown? they said, we have a Crowne Plaza...  I said, that will work! got my voucher and waited for my taxi... Checked into my hotel at 4.30 AM, slept till 10 AM and was off to explore the city till my cab would pick me up at 6.30 PM...

SALSOTECA??? Never heard that word...

Off to explore Santiago, a lovely city, I had been there once a few years ago, so I grabbed a city map and started visiting the main sites..

One of the main Pedestrian streets in Santiago

They call this building the Cell Phone building, wonder why?

I tried calling a friend who lives in town, but she had some University exams, so I was stuck Ridin Solo, so to say... It's OK, I only had a few hours, so I had to hurry up and check the main sites... after a few hours I headed back to my hotel, showered and headed to the Airport... this time they had restocked the Champagne, so another time to enjoy another bottle, I think one of the sweetest sounds is the sounds of a bottle poppin!, especially when you didn't pay for it... that combined with pretty good (for a lounge) sushi left me ready for my flight... I wasn't able to do a double dip and get more money, but I had my exit row and couldn't complain... $1600 in LAN credit plus a mini-vacation just for giving up my seat! :)

Moral of the story: When you check in at the airport, always ask, even if you have no status, is this flight oversold/overbooked? (there is a difference between the two, but that's another story), Do you need volunteers?, etc. You never know when you will get an upgrade or be asked to give up your seat, VDB or Voluntary Denied Boarding. $1600 for a few hours work... hehehe :)

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