Fun, games, and bankrupt airlines – Getting to Bolivia (part 1)…

Posted: May 28, 2012 by Ben Weber in English, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It all started off so well. A great day to travel on; everything packed and organized; hotel booked for first few nights; saying our goodbyes to everyone and then Natalia’s brother giving us a lift to the airport, and arriving there two hours before the flight…

Things began to look a little strange when we couldn’t find the check-in desk for our airline in the terminal wing. We asked around and people said that we were in the right place, so we should go round the back where the offices of the airline companies are located. We found the office for our company, Aerosur, though the second bad indication came with the fact that this office was locked with no staff in sight. Bemused and slightly worried we went around to find an information desk… On the way there, I looked up at the flights board and… third bad sign: our flight was not listed. I double checked the dates and we were definitely on time and on the right date. And things began to look even worse when we spoke to the person at the information desk who, when we mentioned the name Aerosur, gave a sigh and said we should go an speak to the Airline Regulatory Authority, ANAC. In doing just this, we were told about how the airline was no longer operating.


The lady told us to speak with people at BOA – another Bolivian airline – who were taking Aerosur passengers. Unfortunately their flight had left earlier in the afternoon and they didn’t have another flight until Tuesday… and they couldn’t guarantee we would be fitted on to it. Extremely difficult to keep the temper in check; after all the time, energy and investment we have put into organizing this training expedition to Bolivia, the thought of it not happening just was not really appealing to either of us. At all. The only alternatives we could think of would be going by bus, which, if we had longer before the expedition started would have been a decent alternative, or getting another ticket with another airline – which is what we did with in getting tickets with LAN. Fortunately they had a flight this Monday morning (via Santiago). Unfortunately, they cost a minor fortune.

So we bit the bullet. We will have to work out how to get our money back from the initial ticket when we get back to São Paulo (though I suppose we can start making in-roads with that in the next couple of days as we need to relax with the high altitude here in La Paz).

The new flight left São Paulo at 7am, so we got to the airport for 5am. Check-in was fine; grab a coffee and a bite to eat… fine… withdraw some extra cash (we had already withdrawn some on the preceding day, but I wanted some more just in case of emergency)… and, inexplicably, the card is blocked. Won’t even let me put a PIN number in. Call my bank, Itau; get asked a hundred security questions and again trying not to let my temper get the better of me… then once I have convinced them that I am really me, the attendant can’t answer my question and has to put me through to another sector. Couldn’t be more clichéd if we had tried. Oh, and then the line went dead. Call again, and apparently I need to go to a bank branch to unblock the card. Problem is that nothing is open that time of morning and there certainly won’t be a branch in Bolivia. Bite my lip and hang up. By now am just tired and want to get on the plane.

Fortunately, everything else (in São Paulo at least) was nice and smooth. Straight through immigration; great sunrise as we headed to our plane on a bus, and no delays. In spite of everything, we were off!

  1. Glenn & Sandra McMahon says:

    Behind every dark cloud is a silver lining journey and may all future experiences be less eventful!

  2. saskia says:

    just consider this part of your training.. flexibility, creativity, out of the box thinking and keeping tempers in check will come in handy I am sure!

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