The domestic and international airline of Chile is LAN. I only flew with them on a domestic flight from Santiago via Puerto Mont to Punta Arenas. Coming from Iberia - where the service was frankly said disgusting - LAN was a pleasure. Friendly staff, punctual departure and arrival, stunning wines - I can only recommend flying with them.
I flew from Santiago to Punta Arenas because it's easiest way otherwise you have to come by ship or overland through Argentina as there are no direct route within Chile,and travel by ferries is very expensive cuz they include the stop at the tourist site during the way too.I booked this plane ticket altogether with intercontinental flight(from Europe) and some other domestic flights from Lan Chile.All together were very cheap compare to buying separate ticket each destination.I'll tell you again about the ticket insome other tip later.I'd rather forgot about it ,let me recall my memory first : )
We've checked many ways to get cheap plane ticket for Chile trip.We've mix this with that ,try everything ,until final price for the whole trip to Chile was only 1,700 Euro. (2008) We've booked through website Lan Chile.This price include :
1.Inter Continental flight from Brussels to Santiago (via Madrid)
2.Santiago - Punta Arenas
3.Punta Arenas -Puerto Montt
4.Puerto Montt -Santiago
5.Santiago -Easter island
6.Easter island - Santiago
8.Calama - Santiago
9.Santiago -Brussels ( via Madrid)
Intercontinal flight ,operated by Iberia,(sorry to say, but the service was not good at all,it seemed that every staff were upset all the time both the ground staff and the crew.)
For Number 2,3,5 and 6 operated by Lan chile and the service was pleasant,the crew were nice and friendly.
Number 4,7 and 8 flown with Sky airline.
Just some story about airplane ticket I've booked to tell..When I was in airport Santiago to fly Punta Arenas ,after check-in by self check-in machine ,I still have time left before boarding so I was looking for the Aerolineas Del Sur airline counter to confirm my 3 domestic flights that I'd booked but didn't pay yet,I need to confrim and pay now.There were nobody there at the counter so I asked around from some other airline counter ,all said "no no ..we don't know " I started to feel suspicious and insist to ask again from a group of some other airline staff ,I showed them my e-ticket booking and ask them for some help.Their faces seemed to show something that made me feel "Oh.. no...trouble! "
One of them came out of counter toward us and start to act so sympathy to us like a friend,and said "You know ..this airline just ceased operation because of bankrupt just 4 days ago."
"____ ! " that's what our exclamation in our mind.He asked if we'd paid or not,luckily we didn't pay yet.Just before travelling I still checked their website to reconfirm and pay, but it seemed some trouble and they must already plan to ceaseoperation months before, because their website kind of block the way of any payment online,so I couldn't pay anything.It's still lucky for me then.The staff brought me back to Sky airline counter whom I just asked for help few minutes ago and now this nice staff still help to explain our situation(in spanish cuz nobody there speak english! and our spanish was not that fluently) and ask those Sky airline staffs to help us about some other new tickets according to our plan.He was so nice and helpful,thank him again.
I expected to pay something very expensive for the new 3 tickets,cuz it's the walk in,but those lady staffs were aslo very helpful,they tried to make it almost the same price as we'd booked from Aerolineas Del Sur,how nice.. so...finally I paid only little more ,on the other hand I think it's kind of an experience,to make me have some exciting feeing and some story to remember and to tell.
Those 3 tickets I mentioned was :
1.Puerto Montt - Satiago
2.Santiago - Antofogasta
3.Calama - Santiago
All together price for 1 person was about 250 euro.(2008)
On 31 of October ,the day they ceased operation was the day I start my journey ,already flew out from home to Brussels,so it mean that travelling must go on,no time for computer or such a thing to check if an airline I booked will be bankrupt or not. Luckily ..this situation was just like a hiccup,and recover very quicky.
At Santiago airport,there's not many people use the self check-in machine probably it's still new and many tourists were in group ,they prefered to be in team with their leader with lots of baggages and questions to ask from ground staff.We headed to those line too but a ground staff asked us to go to self check-in instead.We can choose the seat by ourselves but unluckily that moment not much good seats to choose.I planed to sit on the left side of the plane cuz it's better view ,we can see the Andes mountains and glaciers better from that side.It seemed that everybody know that,so no more left side seats.Not only that,there's only 1 window seat left on the list ,I chose it anyway, so my mate have to sit some where separately.After machine check-in,we have to be in line for baggage check-in anyway. When on board we just simply asked a nice lady next to me if she could change seat with my mate so we can sit together.She was very kind,immediately said "no problem". So...another problem....solved!
Flying with Lan Chile ...service was slow but ok ,aircrew were friendly.Flight time was 3 hours 11 minutes,served a snack box,filled with 3 kinds of very sweet biscuits and 1 soft drink or tea, coffee.The aircraft is Airbus A 319 ,it's quite new, seats are leather,the first 3 rows that supposed to be business class but I noticed that they operated with all economy service.
The view along the way on right side was beautiful too,just only some time that I asked other passenger permission to just take a glimpse of the Andes from left side.It's beautiful...
Punta Arenas airoprt is just a small airport.The arrival baggage claim area is very small, separate from main area by glass partition wall,can see people who are waiting impetiently in the other room.My backpack was considered by airline "odd luggage" may be because of this reason,made my backpack came out very last.When my bag arrived ,everybody already gone.Everything was so quick.
There were 2 taxi drivers came to us,but not pushing much like in Santiago.Accroding to 2 Travel guide books said that there are transfer "Sandy point" mini bus to town,1,500 p.per person.(that time it's 800 p/1 euro)I asked around ,..nothing..I saw only some other company with 3,000 p./person ,too expensive so I denied.After seeing how to get to town cheapest way,the lady who we asked for change seat came to us and ask to share the taxi.We asked some price from few drivers around,we got cheapest at 7,000 p.So we willing to pay 2,500 each ,let her pay only 2,000 p.She is a lively woman from Canada,age around 50s travelling on her own for 3 months to Argentina and chile.She came here for horse riding.It's nice talking with her.We talked all the way 20 km.to town.
If you are flying from Santiago or Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas, try to get a seat on the left hand side of the plane. On a nice day, you'll be able to get a full view of the Torres del Paine. For me, it was the only time I actually got to see the peaks.
When you get to the airport, you can take the official taxis to town for 7,000 CLP. If you are going to Puerto Natales, try to arrange to get on the bus from the airport instead of downtown Punta Arenas. The process is a bit involved (at least when we were there) - see my transportation tip under the Puerto Natales page for more details.
Colectivos are a cheap way to get around Punta Arenas and costs 350 CLP per person. The bus is slightly cheaper - I think it cost around 250 CLP.
For those who had never seen colectivos before, basically they looked like taxis but each of them has a sign on top that shows the route number and the stops it makes. You need to flag down a collectivo at the designated stops. (It has the word Parada and a picture of a taxi on it.) You can find the stops along Magellanes, but probably the earlier stop the better. We were attempting to get to the Tres Puentes pier and could not find a single colectivo that had room for 2 people.
The main stops on the bus routes are also listed on the windshield of the bus. The stops look similar to the colectivo stop but replace the picture of a taxi with a bus.
You can arrive to Torres del Paine National Park by boat from Puerto Natales, and previously Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales by coach.
If you are arriving at Punta Arenas airport, you don't need to go downtown Punta Arenas. You can catch the bus to Puerto Natales in the airport.
Buses Fernandez make a first stop at Punta Arenas airport about 15 minutes later than departure time, and then they go on toward Puerto Natales.
You can buy the ticket at the information desk in the airport.
Travel time from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales is 3 hours.
From Puerto Natales, you can go to Torres del Paine National Park:
a) by bus
b) rent a car
c) sailing through the fiord " Seno Ultima Esperanza" - that's the most expensive (about 130$ as 11/2008) but if you cann afford it, it's worth the while.
The only company that operates that cruise is "Turismo 21 de mayo", their offices
are on a side street from Puerto Natales main square 'Plaza de Armas'.
Don't worry because of your luggage in the sailing: the first boat is a big one, and while you travel in the Zodiac your luggage will be transferred by van to your destination point.
Or if you are returning to the same hotel in Puerto Natales, you could leave
part of your not needed lugagge at the hotel's locked baggage room.
Puerto Natales lives from tourism, so any hotel or travel agency will be glad to help you in designing your route and making your bookings in Torres del Paine.
Here you can find lots of info about the park, how to get there, acommodation, etc
Lan Chile is very comgortable , and food is nice : )
Visit Chile Airpass ?
If flying Iberia/LanChile internationally:
1 to 3 Coupons (excluding Easter Island): US$ 285.00+TAX...
Puerto Montt (PMC) 10:40am - Punta Arenas (PUQ)
$ 169.54 ~ $ 253.54
one way :(Economy-B)