We arrived over two hours before our scheduled departure time for Rapa Nui. Armed with passports, vaccine cards, Pase Mobilidads (vaccine validations), PCR negative test results within 48 hours, and our Delta Skymiles American Express, we strolled to the line to get our boarding passes.
At the first line, a lady told us in Spanish we were in the wrong line. There was a pre-line for a health screening.
No big deal. We switched lines and wound our way to a health screener. It was now about 1:45 until our flight. We expected this to pass smoothly, as we had already been permitted into Chile, had our Pase Mobilidads, and took an extra precaution of getting PCR tests.
Not so, Katie and the kids checked out fine, but I had a problem. I’m still not sure the issue, though I think it was my booster, dated Feb 2022, which is more than six months old. No one explained it to me, but after several supervisor discussions in rapid Spanish, they issue all of us white slips approving our health.
Back to the first line, we made it through this time. Halfway through the line, an agent stopped us, asking if we had filled out the form. The form? No, what form. The senorita disappeared for another supervisor discussion or two. We were holding up the line. She returned and pulled us out of line.
Que es problema? Tu necesitas un formulario nuevo para cuatro personas.
A new form? For all four of us? It had somehow missed our preparation. A Rapa Nui agent helped us complete the form in a schizophrenic mobile application that failed again, and again, and again for various reasons. Katie thinking quickly managed to complete the forms for herself and the kids. We’re still outside of the line, trying to complete the process. Everything spoken and written is happening in Spanish.
A LATAM airlines agent approaches and speaks in Spanish. My boss has said that checkin is now closed. One hour until takeoff.
Cerrado?! I said.
Katie said no, no, no.
The Rapa Nui person stated our case, and the LATAM agent allowed us to get in line. If the forms weren’t complete by the time we were called, we could check-in.
Our fingers flew on the keyboard,and finally, the forms were complete.
Donde esta tu email confirmation? The emails never arrived. Esta bien. We took photos of the completed form.
We received our boarding pass. Still haven’t reached security. About one hour until flight departure.
Down the elevator two flights to a subterranean security area. We’re diverted into the line for Rapa Nui. We’re near the back. Many of the folks we saw at checkin are nowhere to be seen, already through security and at the plane.
The line creeps forward. It’s hot. We’re in our winter clothes, and we’re sweating. No water since we’re not through security. Wilson loses his patience. He flops o the floor. 45 minutes to departure. 30 minutes to departure. 15 minutes to departure. The line starts to push from behind us a few anxious stragglers inch forward.
Our turn at the police (like TSA). I’m prepared. All the papers and forms collated and tucked into passports. Ready to roll.
The policeman says no, we can’t travel with only a photo of the form. We must have the completed form. Katie waves down the Rapa Nui ambassador, “Senorita.” She brings a supervisor. Whatever was said in Spanish, we’re not sure, but we were cleared to pass through.
The flight is departing. Last call. We’re still going through security. We grab our bags and clothes on the other side. On to gate 12.
We’re hot, thirsty, loaded with luggage, and now hustling through the terminal. Gate 12 is at the end of the terminal, at least a quarter mile indoors. Rapa Nui ambassadors are stationed every few hundred yards.
One says, the gate is closing in Spanish. We accelerate to a sprint. Wilson dragging. Jane clopping. Katie pulling a roller suitcase across tile floors.
I reach the gate first and hold it for a moment while the others catch up, trying to speak in Spanish to the gate agents. They want our boarding passes and our passports (again.). We shuffle down the bridge to the waiting plane. Board the plane to see hundreds of faces staring at our sweaty, panting family.
We made it. Found our seats, stripped off our winter clothes, drank some agua. Rapa Nui here we come.
And we once thought domestic flights would be a breeze.